KC Chiefs have solid candidates for Defensive Rookie of the Year

Mar 5, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chenal (LB09) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 5, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chenal (LB09) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Kansas City Chiefs focused on the defensive unit during the 2022 NFL Draft. Will any rookies be named the team’s fourth Defensive Rookie of the Year?

With several defensive rookies, the Kansas City Chiefs have abundant options for Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2022.  The Chiefs’ defense went from historically awful to mediocre during the 2021 season. With several former starters moving on and multiple positions lacking depth, Kansas City rightfully needed to make some changes.s

The team focused much of their offseason capital on defensive players, in the draft and free agency. Five of the Chiefs’ first six selections in the 2022 NFL Draft were defensive players, bringing young, hungry, and cheap talent to Kansas City.

Unlike the Offensive Rookie of the Year award, the Chiefs actually have a long history with successful defensive rookies. Four Kansas City players have won the award since 1984, the most from a single team in that span. Cornerback Marcus Peters won the award in 2015, the most recent Kansas City rookie to do so. Pass rusher Derrick Thomas is by far Kansas City’s most notable previous winner, winning in 1989.

After drafting seven defensive rookies, the Chiefs’ defense will certainly be younger in 2022. The question remains, who has the best odds to win Defensive Rookie of the Year?

Cornerback Trent McDuffie: +1550

As Kansas City’s highest draft pick, cornerback Trent McDuffie leading the team’s odds is no surprise. But, McDuffie’s rookie performance will affect more than individual awards. The Chief’s championship aspirations may well hinge on his development.

The Washington product enters the 2022 season as one of Kansas City’s top cornerbacks. His film is impressive, being a reliable, near-shutdown quality pas defender in college. However, McDuffie’s abnormal lack of length concerned Chiefs fans, before and after the draft.

How his physical shortcomings affect his ability at the NFL level remains to be seen. The 21st overall selection is naturally going to be a preseason contender for Defensive Rookie of the Year. McDuffie will likely get plenty of opportunities to establish his individual award resume in 2022.

Defensive end George Karlaftis: +1750

Kansas City drafted another defensive player in the draft’s first round, picking defensive end George Karlaftis at 30th overall. Whether fans liked him in the pre-draft process or not, Karlaftis could now be the solution to Kansas City’s woeful pass-rushing corps.

The former Purdue Boilermaker entered the 2022 draft season as a popular top-10 selection, with his strength and relentless rushing approach. However, some athletic testing and other concerns hurt Karlaftis’ draft stock, seeing him fall to the Chiefs.

Karlaftis will certainly see opportunities in 2022, with the Chiefs lacking dangerous defenders off the edge. His mentality and high-motor highlights will hopefully translate to the NFL sooner rather than later.

Linebacker Leo Chenal: +5000

A surprise on this list, linebacker Leo Chenal is a very long shot for Defensive Rookie of the Year. But, if they had an award for most physical player, Chenal would be the favorite.

The Wisconsin product was Kansas City’s first pick outside the top-100 selections, at 103rd overall. He quickly set a hard-hitting tone with Chiefs fans, a welcome culture change to the fan base.

"“Violence and physicality man, that’s it” Chenal said. “I’m addicted to hitting people. I love it. I can’t get enough.”"

Chenal will likely start the year as a defensive substitute and special teams player, but his addictive energy and approach to the game already have fans cheering for him.

Next. Ranking the Chiefs top 15 draft picks ever. dark