KC Chiefs: Defensive line could still benefit from adding a veteran

The Chiefs are still in need of some outside help on the edges of their defensive line.
Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles
Super Bowl LVII - Kansas City Chiefs v Philadelphia Eagles / Cooper Neill/GettyImages

Amidst Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones's holdout, we've gotten an opportunity to see what this defensive line is able to do without him this preseason. And for better or worse, we've gotten to see what life is like without Jones' presence on not only the defensive line but the defense as a whole.

So far, the returns are somewhat underwhelming. The first team defense had a performance to forget against the New Orleans Saints in preseason Week 1 and the team overall struggled to get pressure with their front four as the game progressed. The only defensive lineman that had a sack against New Orleans was Danny Shelton. The other two sacks came from safety Chamarri Conner and linebacker Drue Tranquill on blitzes.

The Chiefs were able to muster two sacks versus the Arizona Cardinals as outside linebacker B.J. Thompson was the only defensive lineman to collect one, but only in the fourth quarter. The first-team defense seemed able to provide a bit of pressure, but they still struggled to close on quarterbacks like Colt McCoy. For example, rookie pass-rusher Felix Anudike-Uzomah in particular was able to beat his man once early in the game, but could not finish the sack.

Though the preseason should be taken with a grain of salt, the Chiefs are middle of the pack in sacks with just five this preseason, but we already mentioned how a good number of those did not come from their front four and that's a reason to have some doubts about this defensive line.

The Chiefs are still in need of some outside help on the edges of their defensive line.

throughAll in all, the Chiefs defensive line has ho-hummed their way though the preseason. While they haven't been bad necessarily, nobody has really stepped up in a way that makes you feel great if this team doesn't have Chris Jones.

Pass-rushers George Karlaftis and Felix Anudike-Uzomah are an exciting young duo that many are anticipating will be a factor this year, but the lack of experience between the two stands out. If you take out free agent signing Charles Omenihu, who will miss the first six games of 2023 due to suspension, your most experienced edge rusher and the only one with over 1,000 snaps becomes Mike Danna.

Sure, Chris Jones is expected back by the regular season, but crazier things have happened before. It is only realistic to say there is concern that the Chiefs may not have enough on the defensive line. Even if Jones is to return for week one, there is still a hole at edge.

That's why adding another veteran pass-rusher would benefit the Chiefs immensely. There are still a few guys out there that can help. The first name that comes to mind is, of course, Carlos Dunlap who played an impactful role last year as the veteran presence who provided some serviceable pass-rush on a team that finished second in the NFL in sacks.

Former Miami Dolphins pass-rusher and familiar face Melvin Ingram also remains a free agent. Ingram was in this defense not that long ago and would be a similar move to Dunlap. Ingram may be incentivized to return to Kansas City for cheap, a place where he was just inches away from a Super Bowl appearance two seasons ago. Additionally, Ingram still may have some juice left in the tank as he won an AFC Defensive Player of the Month just last season with Miami.

Ultimately, neither Ingram or Dunlap are world-beaters, but they would provide at least someone with experience and pass-rush prowess to a position group that currently lacks that. Even if age or injuries are a concern, you would only really need either of them to fill a spot for six weeks until Omenihu returns and the young guys get their legs under them during the regular season. Anything they give you after that would be a bonus and some useful depth.

Having options on top of options is what allows a team to have a healthy pass rush. The Philadelphia Eagles were able to break the NFL sack record last year because of the sheer amount of capable players they had, and four players had double-digit sack totals. That's a model the Chiefs should try to emulate and what the goal should be of adding a veteran.

Almost everyone can agree that there's a lot of talent and a lot to be excited about on this defensive line group for Kansas City. Yet, It's easy to see how quickly they could get thin and how the lack of experienced depth could hurt them. Chris Jones' contract extension is still priority No. 1, but finding a veteran pass-rusher should be something that Brett Veach and company are looking into heavily.