8 late-season storylines that will shape the Chiefs' future

Even some of the smaller moves the Chiefs coaches decide to make in the next few weeks could yield significant returns or insights down the road for the Chiefs.

Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots
Kansas City Chiefs v New England Patriots / Kathryn Riley/GettyImages
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Leo Chenal makes his presence felt

The Chiefs have some serious decision-making to do in the heart of the defense. Drue Tranquill has been a one-year sensation in Kansas City and fans are clamoring to have him back. Willie Gay Jr is also ready to hit the open market and he's had an under-appreciated season himself in the wake of other linebackers. Then there's Nick Bolton, nearly eligible for a contract extension, who missed most of the regular season yet whose presence is vital for Steve Spagnuolo's schemes to work best.

Basically, Veach is going to have to answer this: Who is staying or leaving in the linebacking corps?

Some (or even much) of this is dependent upon a man named Leo Chenal, a former third-round choice who has been living in the shadows of those already mentioned in an overloaded linebacking corps for the Chiefs.

Last year, Chenal played in 23 percent of all defensive snaps as a rotational piece comfortable against the run with a real knack for getting after the passer on blitz calls. This year, he's upped that number to 41 percent with Bolton often out of the lineup and he's got 10 pressures and 3 sacks to his name.

Chenal is never going to be a plus asset in coverage, but he's turned heads as a downhill tackler in this league with a fitting nickname of "Death Row". Is he ready for more? Can he at least improve in coverage enough to avoid being consistently targeted? What other assets would be needed in the room if the team leaned on him more?

While the Chiefs have a lot of linebacking talent to employ on the field these days, we're hoping Chenal continues to grow and reveal a ceiling that will allow Veach to make educated decisions about the linebackers going forward.