Brett Veach’s first NFL Draft as the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs is widely regarded as a miss. Breeland Speaks was as big of a bust in recent memory for Kansas City and Dorian O’Daniel never established himself as a starting defender. However, there was one selection that has paid some dividends for the Chiefs: defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi, who is the only remaining player from that class still on the team.
While Nnadi was not a home-run of a draft pick, the Chiefs probably don’t look back with much regret after taking him with the 75th overall pick, since he has been a consistent player for them in terms of snaps. According to Pro Football Focus ($), Nnadi has played between 500 and 700 defensive snaps every year of his career, peaking at 698 in 2019. His play has been a little up and down, earning PFF overall defensive grades of 69.2, 59.8, 74.8, and 51.3 (with 60.0 considered “average”) across his first four seasons, respectively.
It is fair to say that Derrick Nnadi is more of a run-stuffer than a pass-rusher. That’s why he and Chris Jones complement each other decently well. One is a player who excels more in passing situations while the other is better on running downs. Over his NFL career, Nnadi has only amassed four sacks in 75 regular season and playoff games. He’s also never had a season with a PFF pass-rushing grade of 60.0 or better.
Derrick Nnadi is entering his fifth season with the Chiefs. He’s never been a huge factor in pass-rushing situations. Will he step up in 2022?
Though Nnadi has lacked production in pass-rushing situations, he has been a decent run-stuffer throughout his career. His PFF run-defense grades ($) from 2018 through 2021 have been 80.0, 63.9, 81.3, and 50.8, respectively. Up and down, yes, but he has shown that he is worthy of playing NFL snaps.
Currently, the Chiefs’ most significant weakness is their pass rush. Outside of Chris Jones, the Chiefs have zero established, quality pass rushers on their defensive line. Frank Clark has been a disappointment, and George Karlaftis is a rookie. Nnadi is also not a pass rusher, and other names are simply unproven.
Nnadi will likely be the same guy he’s always been this season, but if he can take that next step as a disruptor, it will go a long way in aiding a depleted defensive line as well as keeping third-year lineman Tershawn Wharton off the field when the opposing offense will likely pass.
In the end, I don’t think Nnadi will suddenly improve as a pass rusher at this point in his career. He will likely be taken off the field on obvious throwing downs in favor of Wharton. But if he can beat his previous career-high in sacks of three, then the Chiefs will be one step closer to having a respectable pass rush again.
What do you think of Derrick Nnadi? Do you think he will see a decrease in playing time this season? Feel free to let me know in the comment section or on Twitter (@StrozinskyLucas).