With training camp underway, let’s continue our Kansas City Cheifs roster preview with a look at the interior defensive linemen.
One of the most underrated areas of competition on this year’s Kansas City Chiefs roster is the rotational defensive tackle position. Chris Jones and Derrick Nnadi will almost certainly be the two starters, but below there is a competition between three athletic tackles for the key rotational spot.
Who will be the player to step up after Jerran Reed’s departure? Who are the guys competing for his position? Let’s discuss.
#95 Chris Jones
College: Mississippi State
Years Pro: 7 (28 years old)
Chance of Making the Roster: Lock
Both the longest-tenured and most explosive defensive lineman is back for their 7th season with the Chiefs. Chris Jones returns with a new understanding of the defense and clean bill of health. Jones spent much of last season with a wrist injury and out of position. Now, Jones will have the opportunity to showcase his dominance again. The alarm has been sounded over the Chiefs lack of prominent pass-rushers. Jones has a chance in 2022-2023 to silence all of his and the rest of his teammate’s critics.
#91 Derrick Nnadi
College: Florida State=
Years Pro: 5 (26 years old)
Chance of Making the Roster: Near Lock
After a few weeks of uncertainty, Derrick Nnadi ultimately re-signed with the Chiefs on a one-year deal. Nnadi is known around Kansas City as a key part of the defense. While he is not a flashy player that racks up a lot of stats, he is a very effective run-stuffing lineman. Nnadi consistently eats up double teams and occupies blockers. In what may be his last chance to get a lucrative contract, Nnadi will be playing this season on a “prove it” deal.
#99 Khalen Saunders
College: Western Illinois
Years Pro: 4 (25 years old)
Chance of Making the Roster: On the bubble
Khalen Saunders was one of the players that fans were most intrigued by when he was drafted by the Chiefs in the 3rd round of the 2019 draft. With tremendous athleticism, Saunders wowed scouts with his ability to move in a 324-pound frame. Now, entering year four, Saunders has another opportunity to get his career on track. He has struggled with injury so far but will have a real opportunity to take over a real role on the defense this season. Keep a close eye on where Saunders receives the majority of his reps during camp.