How does the Kansas City Chiefs pass rush stack up against the rest of the AFC West?
Next up in our series comparing the defenses of the AFC West, we turn our attention to the division’s pass rushers. This is a much more interesting position to evaluate because they put up so many more numbers than interior defensive linemen.
There have been some changes in pass rushers over the last season in this division. For the Broncos, Von Miller has been replaced by Randy Gregory. The Chargers added Khalil Mack. The Raiders replaced Yannick Ngakoue with Chandler Jones. And, the Chiefs are likely set to replace Melvin Ingram with George Karlaftis. It’s an interesting field of players that may get even more interesting if the Chiefs decide to make a major move for the likes of Robert Quinn.
DENVER BRONCOS (BASE 3-4)
Bradley Chubb (ROLB) — PFF EDGE RANK: N/A
Chubb used to be a household name. He did well in 2018, and regressed in 2019, but came back swinging in 2020. However, he did next to nothing in 2021. He didn’t play in Week 1 and was injured from Weeks 3-11. But, in the weeks he did play (2, 12-18), he put up very few numbers. 17 tackles and 4 assists. In eight weeks. That’s it.
Randy Gregory (LOLB) — PFF EDGE RANK: 46/108
Gregory will be doing the heavy lifting for the Broncos’ pass rush this season. He’s entering his 5th NFL season and his first for Denver. He’s not an outstanding outside linebacker, but he gets the job done. In the 2021 regular season, he only recorded 11 solo tackles, 3 assists, 6 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. Disappointing numbers.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS (BASE 3-4)
Joey Bosa (ROLB) — PFF EDGE RANK: 9/108
Joey Bosa is one of the best active pass rushers in the league. He eats quarterbacks. He’s been consistently listed as (aside from 2017) one of the best in the league since he got drafted. In 2021, he recorded 31 solo tackles, 11 assists, 10 sacks, and 6 forced fumbles. He’s just ridiculously good.
Khalil Mack (LOLB) — PFF EDGE RANK: 29/108
Now, put Khalil Mack on the same line as Joey Bosa and you have a recipe for one of the best pass rushes in football. Mack regressed in 2021, but this was more due to injury than just normal regression. In 2020, Mack was ranked 1st in the league and recorded 27 solo tackles, 8 assists, 10 sacks, and 3 forced fumbles. in 2021, he only recorded 10 solo tackles, 3 assists, and 6 sacks. All of that was in the first seven weeks (and for the Bears), however.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS (BASE 4-3)
Chandler Jones (RDE) — PFF EDGE RANK: 49/108
Chandler Jones has had ups and downs in his career, as many players have. However, he is still a household name, and that’s due to his 2016 and 2019 seasons. However, I’m more concerned about what he’s done in the last two seasons. He only played in 5 games in 2020 due to a bicep tear. In those 5 weeks, he recorded 8 solo tackles and 1 sack. In 2021, he bounced back and recorded 22 solo tackles, 7 assists, 11 sacks, and 6 forced fumbles.
Maxx Crosby (LDE) — PFF EDGE RANK: 2/108
Maxx Crosby is an elite defensive end. He really had a breakout season in 2021, recording 39 solo tackles, 12 assists, and 10 sacks. I’m sure he’ll continue trending upward in the coming seasons—especially with Chandler Jones on the same line.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (BASE 4-3)
Frank Clark (RDE) — PFF EDGE RANK: 90/108
Clark was a pretty good defensive end, prior to 2019. But, since then, it has been a downward trend for him. In 2020, he recorded 18 solo tackles, 2 assists, and 6 sacks. In 2021, he recorded 13 solo tackles, 4 assists, 5 sacks, and 2 forced fumbles. I don’t predict that it will be any better for him in this upcoming season.
George Karlaftis (LDE) — NCAA PFF EDGE RANK: 42/441
I have high hopes for George Karlaftis. He has the heart of a lion and the will to get the job done. However, I cannot in good faith say that my hope for him to be good puts him above proven veterans.
The Best: Chargers
The Raiders were in this fight simply because Crosby is so freaking good and Chandler Jones is also well above average. However, if you put Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack on the same line, even Zeus himself will shake in fear.
As for the Chiefs. I have high hopes for Karlaftis, but he hasn’t proven enough yet to get the weight of the corpse of Frank Clark off of the Chiefs’ back. Therefore, I actually have to rank them last in the West. As our own Matt Conner said, the Chiefs’ pass rush is among the NFL’s biggest roster holes.
After two positions, the rankings are as follows:
- Chargers (6)
- Chiefs (5-T)
- Broncos (5-T)
- Raiders (4)