KC Chiefs’ biggest positional concerns after the draft

Melvin Ingram, KC Chiefs. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images)
Melvin Ingram, KC Chiefs. (Photo by Chris Unger/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Chiefs had a handful of major holes in their roster coming into the offseason. After losing a number of major impact players, general manager Brett Veach & Co. had a lot of work to do to keep this team in the conversation of Super Bowl contenders. So far this offseason, I would say they have done about as good of a job as anyone could have expected.

The three biggest question marks on the roster were at the cornerback, edge rusher, and wide receiver positions. Not so coincidentally, those are the three positions that the Chiefs chose to attack first in the draft. With four picks in the first two rounds, the Chiefs had plenty of firepower to address their needs.

Their first two picks, both in the first round, addressed what were probably the two biggest needs on the roster. Cornerback Trent McDuffie and edge rusher George Karlaftis will bring much-needed support to both of their respective position groups. Consequently, they will likely be day-one starters, barring some sort of setback.

Receiver Skyy Moore and safety Bryan Cook were the next two selections by the Chiefs, both of which also filled needs for the Chiefs. Usually, when teams are able to add so many high-end players at positions of need, it involves either massive trades or reaching on value. Besides the trade-up for McDuffie, the Chiefs used the picks they had and drafted the value that fell to them. After that, the Chiefs took shots on high upside players like lineman Darian Kinnard and cornerback Joshua Williams.

When all was said and done, the Chiefs solidified most of their needs. Wide receiver, cornerback, and safety are probably good to go now unless Rashad Fenton’s injury becomes more of an issue than it currently is. The offensive line, quarterback, and running back rooms are also likely set for the most part. That leaves us with the defensive line, which has become the biggest concern for the rest of the offseason.

Frank Clark and Chris Jones lead a group that is fairly unproven on the production front. Karlaftis and Derrick Nnadi figure to be the starters alongside Clark and Jones, while Mike Danna, Tershawn Wharton, Khalen Saunders, and Joshua Kaindoh make up the second unit. Those last four combined for just five sacks and 63 total tackles last season. While the front four, when healthy, can be a solid group, defensive line is a position that is nearly impossible to play every down. That is why I think Kansas City should be looking toward the free agent pool to help supplement this group (click here for a full list of available free agents).

Defensive end

Defensive end was their first target, as they placed the UFA tender on free agent Melvin Ingram, who was last year’s spark plug. This meant that they offered Ingram a one-year contract worth 110% of his previous contract, which would total $4.4 million dollars. If Ingram were to sign elsewhere, the Chiefs would receive a compensatory pick in return. If he hadn’t signed anywhere by the beginning of training camp, he would be returning to the Chiefs on their offered contract. Unfortunately, Ingram chose to sign with the Miami Dolphins. While it would have been nice to have him back, the Chiefs will have to look elsewhere to supplement their pass rush group.

Other options at edge include the likes of Jadeveon Clowney and Justin Houston. Clowney falls on the “more production but probably much more expensive” side, while Houston would cost slightly less than Ingram, as the Ravens also placed the UFA tender on him. Given that we probably need to add a couple more pieces, Clowney may be out of our price range. Houston would be a fun reunion, but I’m not sure he has the same punch as he did when he left the Chiefs. If I were to choose between the two, I would rather pay up at this position and look for cheaper options elsewhere.

Interior d-line

Speaking of elsewhere, the other position on the roster that needs the biggest upgrade is the interior defensive line. K.C. has a top-three player at the position, as Chris Jones continues to play at an All-Pro level. Behind him are a few guys who are serviceable, but nothing special. Nnadi, Wharton, and Saunders have all shown flashes of productivity at times, but none have been able to put it together for a sustained amount of time. I think one more piece in that rotation would turn the unit into a much more formidable group.

Of the available free agents at the position, a couple of them stand out. Eddie Goldman has made a living off of simply not getting moved off his spot. He won’t get you a lot of sacks or tackles, but he will make life much easier for those around him. If he is able to eat up one or two blockers, that will open up holes for guys like Nick Bolton and Leo Chanel to make plays.

The other option I like is his former teammate Akiem Hicks. Hicks shows up a lot more on the stat sheet, as he plays a bit more up the field than Goldman does. He and Jones could form a deadly pass rush combo up the middle. I would imagine that both of these guys will get a contract somewhere in the $6-8 million dollars a year range. That is definitely a number I could live with for guys of their stature.

At this point, I can only assume that you are asking the same question I asked myself, “What about cornerback?” I went back and forth on whether or not this team needs another option at corner, and I’m still not 100 percent sold on my answer. For now, I will say no. I think the group of McDuffie, Fenton, L’Jarius Sneed, Deandre Baker, and Lonnie Johnson can put together a good enough season for us to get by. However, if Fenton’s shoulder injury lingers and ends up being a bigger issue than originally thought, we could be in trouble. Therefore, I wouldn’t be upset if we did sign another veteran cornerback.

As it stands, I think the Chiefs’ roster is in a good spot considering where they were prior to the draft. They lost a handful of talented players and replaced them well in the draft. With a couple more additions via free agency, I think this team has a chance to be even more dangerous than it has been the past couple of years.

Next. Predicting game-by-game results for the Chiefs season. dark