The NFL season starts in just over two months, and there are still some glaring concern in regards to one particular aspect of the Kansas City Chiefs roster: the defensive line.
While the Chiefs’ interior is likely set, the free agent market for defensive ends thinned out quickly in this historic offseason. Most of the remaining available players are well into the back end of their careers, or failed to earn second contracts from the teams who drafted them. The list is highlighted by the likes of Everson Griffen, who has struggled mightily with health; Justin Houston, who Chiefs Kingdom is all too familiar with; and Alex Okafor, who has proven to be—at best—a rotational asset in this unit.
The competition among the players in the room right now provides a rather thin rotation, and it’s likely that the Chiefs will add at least one more edge rusher, but that player may well not come from the free agent pool.
The inaugural season of the USFL will be completed with its championship game on Sunday. The Birmingham Stallions and Philadelphia Stars will face off for the title. Following the championship, players in the USFL will be allowed to join NFL teams, as long as their current USFL team will agree to release them.
Any players who earn legitimate interest from an NFL team are not likely be held back by their current team, as the USFL is widely regarded as a developmental league. That said, here are four players who the Chiefs should target to round out their roster.
Chris Odom, defensive end, Houston Gamblers
Chris Odom won the 2022 USFL Defensive Player of the Year, and will all but certainly have an opportunity in the NFL this the upcoming season.
He finished his USFL debut season leading the league with 12.5 sacks and a total of 41 tackles. The 2017 undrafted free agent from the University of Arkansas was originally in the NFL playing for the Atlanta Falcons, and bounced around from the AAF, CFL, NFL, and now the USFL. He made NFL appearances with the Green Bay Packers in 2017, the Falcons again in 2019, as well as the Washington Commanders in ‘19. Re-emerging as a considerable pass rushing talent in the USFL this season will likely lead to his return to the NFL in ‘22.
The Chiefs make for a perfect suitor. Whether or not his sack numbers from this season with the Houston Gamblers will translate directly to success in the NFL is, of course, yet to be seen, but anybody who can help the Chiefs get after the quarterback more efficiently is worth consideration.
In his senior campaign with the Razorbacks, he recorded 53 tackles and 12.5 sacks, but it was the only season of his college career that entered him into potential draft consideration. He didn’t stick out on draft boards in 2017, and flamed out rather quickly in his first two stints in the NFL, but there is something to be said about a player who won’t quit.
Six years of varietal professional football pursuits and a USFL DPOY later, Odom has as real of an opportunity to break out in the NFL as he ever has. At 6’4” and 256 pounds, he fits the mold—size wise—of a professional edge rusher. While his 2017 pre-draft workouts didn’t produce head turning results, he has continued to develop his craft, and if nothing else, could improve the competition and/or rotation in the Chiefs defensive line room.