3 defensive crushes for the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2024 NFL Draft

Draft week is upon us, but there's still time to take an 11th hour look at some of my favorite defensive options for the Kansas City Chiefs. Defense was the strength of Kansas City's championship campaign in 2023. Backfilling a few spots and adding depth to raise the overall floor of the defense will be key to sustaining one of the league's best young defenses.
NFL Combine
NFL Combine / Justin Casterline/GettyImages
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Last week, we took a look at a trio of offensive players who piqued my interest for the Kansas City Chiefs. With the 2024 NFL Draft just days away, let's focus in on three more players on the other side of the football.

Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has a talented core of players, but he could stand a few more horses in the stable to maintain an elite defensive unit. Kansas City already has the league's youngest defense and if it continues to infuse that side of the ball with inexpensive talent, the Chiefs will remain a perennial championship-caliber squad.

Kansas City's recent draft track record has fast-tracked the process of building one of the most gifted ensembles of defensive players in the National Football League. That unit took a hit with the departure of standout cornerback L'Jarius Sneed, but there aren't many glaring holes to be addressed this week.

There are three positions where I think the team should consider reinforcements: cornerback, defensive tackle, and defensive end. The following are players I believe the Chiefs could find great value in outside of the first round.

Johnny Dixon, Cornerback, Penn State

Draft Projection: Round 2-3

There's a case to be made that the Chiefs' front office has done its best work in evaluating talent at the cornerback position over the past four years. During that span, they've come away with L'Jarius Sneed, Trent McDuffie, Jaylen Watson, and Joshua Williams. Just one of those players was drafted in the Top 135 picks of the draft. I'd love to see that hit rate continue in 2024 and believe that's possible with Penn State cornerback Johnny Dixon.

The 5-11, 188-pound corner out of Tampa, Florida has a stature and play style reminiscent of the aforementioned McDuffie. In his senior season at Penn State, Dixon led all FBS cornerbacks with 4.5 sacks. He has good closing speed that pops on film when he needs to get downhill in a hurry. At the Senior Bowl in February, Dixon hit a top speed of 20.75 miles per hour (good for sixth-best of any player in Mobile, Alabama that week).

Dixon is supremely physical in coverage. He has great hand usage in coverage, but I noted that he's often a bit too grabby for his own good. He'll have to shore that up in the NFL, but with Dave Merritt as his position coach, he'll have a good shot to reform that part of his game. I also like his patience at the line of scrimmage. It can be deadly to overcommit and initiate contact too quickly in the NFL. He's rarely overly aggressive and that keeps him in phase with his man. Sometimes, to such an extent that Dixon often runs the route for the receiver.

Two Games to Watch:
Penn State vs. Ohio State
Penn State vs. West Virginia