Grading the KC Chiefs position groups before the 2023 NFL Draft
Defensive line: B-
The interior defensive line, and the entire defense for that matter, is led by defensive tackle Chris Jones. Coming off the best season of his career while finishing third in Defensive Player of the Year voting, Jones is the beating heart of this defense and will continue to wreck games once again. Furthermore, fellow defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi was re-signed by the Chiefs as he enters his sixth season. While he isn’t the most explosive or dynamic player at the position Nnadi has proved to be a capable starter and run-stopper for the KC defensive front.
Tershawn Wharton will also remain in Kansas City for the following season after signing a one-year contract. Wharton had a strong start last year though saw his season cut short following an ACL tear in Week 5. Behind Wharton, the remaining depth at defensive tackle is rather thin, as Khalen Saunders who just had his best season yet was picked up by the Saints in free agency. The only remaining defensive tackles to speak of include Byron Cowart, Danny Shelton, Daniel Wise, and Phil Hoskins. Cowart was acquired in free agency and started 14 games for the Patriots making him the best option available to replace Saunders who is a bigger loss than some may realize. While the addition of further depth shouldn’t be viewed as a priority along the interior, it is certainly a position group that could benefit.
Kansas City’s defensive end room will see a new face this upcoming season as the Chiefs acquired Charles Omenihu via free agency. The former 49er is characterized by his versatility, athleticism, and inability to give up on plays making him a welcomed addition to the defensive line. Flanking him on the edge is the familiar face of George Karlaftis, who is expected to make another leap in his sophomore year. Following a rookie season in which he was second among all Chiefs in sacks with six, Karlaftis’ work with former Chiefs star Tamba Hali has many fans high on what he’ll bring to the table in the upcoming season.
The remaining defensive ends include Mike Danna, Malik Herring, and Joshua Kaindoh. While these players certainly provide some much-needed depth at the position, the losses of Frank Clark and Carlos Dunlap in free agency make KC’s defensive end group rather thin. Along with offensive tackle, attempting to sign a marque edge rusher should be a top priority for the Chiefs’ front office. Taking the attention away from Chris Jones in the trenches will greatly benefit the defense and allow them to follow up on a season in which they recorded the second-largest sack count of any team in the league.