Check on potential interior help
At some positions (e.g. defensive end), the Chiefs have to make a move if they want to be responsible and follow through on their vision for Super Bowl glory. The need is just that obvious. At a position like the defensive interior, however, it’s not exactly clear that an upgrade is possible.
The Chiefs have an interesting group of players assembled along the defensive interior with one elite talent in Chris Jones. Jones is the anchor that frees up everyone else and is paid accordingly. From there, however, there are developmental talents and reliable role players, but there’s no one around who should keep the Chiefs from keeping an eye open.
Derrick Nnadi was re-signed to return up front with Jones, but it was a cheaper one-year deal which speaks to his usage. Nnadi only plays on 40 percent or so on snaps and, at this point, he’s a known quantity as a quality run-stopper who landed a few sacks last season for the first time. Turk Wharton is a great story as a former rookie free agent, but he’s also not pushing aside Nnadi for starter’s reps.
The Chiefs do have former third-round pick Khalen Saunders, whose blend of size, strength, and athleticism are ultra-rare, but injuries have kept him from putting it all together and the coaches have ridden the hot hand in the moment instead of allowing Saunders to experiment out there and gain experience with reps.
Taylor Stallworth is the new name here and makes this position a very deep one with solid options. Stallworth is another intriguing player who could grow into a more disruptive presence, but he signed an affordable one-year deal himself for a reason.
When you look at the assembly, it looks ready to go with some real competition ahead, but it’s also not an exciting corps that makes you confident that they can consistently win up front. It’s Jones & Co. and if something happens to the former—God forbid—things go south real fast.
Because of this, one more move the Chiefs should make following the draft is to honestly assess the talent collected versus what is available on the open market. Would it be worth looking closer at Akiem Hicks, formerly of the Chicago Bears, as a free agent? What about Larry Ogunjobi or Linval Joseph or Sheldon Richardson? If the selection doesn’t look great, then the Chiefs can feel good about going forward, but it’s worth kicking the tires on options if an upgrade is possible.