Leo Chenal, Linebacker (Round 3, Pick 103)
Linebacker Leo Chenal played more of a role on special teams than on defense in Week 11, but he still had a quality night against the Chargers. In 13 defensive snaps, he played on 9 running plays, 2 in coverage, and he also blitzed on two plays, recording a hit on quarterback Justin Herbert. He recorded two assisted tackles on Austin Ekeler and was not targeted in coverage.
After a less-than-ideal start to the season, the Chiefs seemed to have found a role that works for Leo Chenal. He’s been great over the past two games as he’s recorded a sack and QB hit as well as not missing a single tackle as he did over the previous four games. He will not pass Nick Bolton or Willie Gay on the depth chart anytime soon, but he could very well earn meaningful snaps in important games down the road this season.
Isiah Pacheco, Running Back (Round 7, Pick 251)
After saying the same thing last week, this was the best game that Isiah Pacheco has played so far this season. He had 15 carries in total for 107 yards, including a long 28. He botched a kickoff return late in the first half in which he fielded a kickoff just in bounds, instead of letting the ball land out of bounds or at least catching the ball while having one foot on the white. If Pacheco would have let the ball land out of bounds, the Chiefs would have started at their own 40, but instead began the drive at their own 6. In the grand scheme of things, that mistake isn’t a huge problem, but forgetting basic NFL rules can not happen in a meaningful game going forward.
According to Pro Football Focus ($), 48 of Pacheco’s 107 rushing yards came after contact for an average of 3.20 YAC/attempt. He also forced a missed tackle and two runs of 10+ yards. 7 of his 15 rushing attempts were zone runs and 8 were on gap runs.
Pacheco should be the primary running back moving forward. He has a great blend of power, speed, and vision that Clyde Edwards-Helaire seems to lack. He is a non-factor in the receiving game and has struggled greatly in pass protection so he won’t be the bell cow anytime soon but Andy Reid and Co. need to maintain his role on offense if they want to make a deep playoff run this season.
George Karlaftis, Defensive End (Round 1, Pick 30)
Rookie pass rusher George Karlaftis had a similar performance this past week versus the Chargers that he had last week against the Jaguars. He was solid, but not elite, in every facet of the game. He recorded one pressure in 21 pass-rushing snaps but played better than what that statistic may indicate. He did not record a tackle, but he didn’t miss a tackle either, which was a problem for him up until last week.
After a strong performance in Week 1, George Karlaftis had a rough couple of months until the Jaguars game. He wasn’t generating enough pressure consistently, was getting overwhelmed in the running game, and was consistently missing tackles. Not every rookie is a day-one starter, but many get better as the season goes on Karlaftis appears to be one of those players.
One of the Chiefs’ biggest concerns heading into the season was their pass rush, and he was expected to be one of the solutions. Although that wasn’t the case early in the season, he seems to have figured it out, so hopefully, he is better able to turn pressure into sacks better than he has to date this year.