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KC_Guy

2020 KC Chiefs Roster Analysis - The Defensive Line

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An Overview:

You may not agree, but I think the DL really is a position of strength for the Chiefs moving forward. The guys came together over the course of the season, and as much patchwork was required, they seemed to really gel during the final Superbowl run. Just remember: Breeland Speaks, Alex Okafor, Emmanuel Ogbah, Xavier Williams, Tim Ward - they all ended up on IR or NFI. Chris Jones was seriously hobbled in postseason. Frank Clark played through some kind of neck issue early on. But other guys stepped up - and finding Mike Pennel was pure gold. A lot of course depends on what is going to happen with Chris Jones.

The Players:

Chris Jones obviously is the elephant in the room. His impact on the defense cannot be overstated. His presence alone requires the opposing offense to adjust. And it's not only his pass rush ability and his long arms to deflect passes. I firmly believe he also has a massive impact on the opponents running game. Having him splitting a double team disrupts ANY play in the backfield or at least redirects it. Of course his aggressiveness can be exploited, but that's a risk worth taking , however needs to be mitigated by disciplined LB play as we have seen especially during the postseason. Getting him back will be a defining factor for the future of the unit.

Derrick Nnadi, and to a somewhat lesser extend Mike Pennel (what a find he was!), provide the anchor next to Jones. Just as the whole unit, their play improved significantly over the season - and especially they outplayed Xavier Williams. Both will never be a serious threat for the QB, but their ability to hold their spot provides Jones the freedom to roam the green pastures beyond the line.

Xavier Williams, after returning from IR, only was an afterthought. Him not seeing a snap during Superbowl may be telling. Khalen Saunders I don't know what to think about. The most impressive moves I've seen from him this far was him dancing on the street during the Superbowl parade. He'll definitely have to step up his game to have a long term role on the team.

Frank Clark. Yes, the Clark the shark. What a disappointment he was early on. A bounty of draft picks, a lot of cap invested in him - and not much in return. And then his neck got ok and off he went. Just at the right time to get the Chiefs over the hump. His relentlessness was more than impressive, hunting down the QB three times on a single play ... just wow. I'll always remember the mic'd up Superbowl video: "There's blood in the water. I can smell it. There's blood in the water!" Here's to happy hunting in 2020!

Tanoh Kpassagnon had a lot of doubters prior to this season. And again, he started the season slow. But with injuries striking and getting more playing time he did a significant step forward and was a permanent presence in opposing teams' backfield. With one more year under contract he will be back, but already now I would not be opposed to a moderate extension.

Breeland Speaks, similar to Khalen Saunders, still has to provide proof he belongs on this team. So far his peformance has been disappointing, and spending the whole season on IR certainly did not help his progress. Neither did a suspension for PED.

Emmanuel Ogbah and Alex Okafor were absolute unknowns for me when they signed with the Chiefs. But they hit the field running. Especially Ogbah provided some real pass rush opposite to Frank Clark. Too bad both suffered a torn pectoral in week 10 and went to IR. While Okafor is under contract for another two years, I seriously hope the Chiefs bring back Ogbah for camp and more.

Terrell Suggs was a spontaneous signing to beef up the DE position after injuries struck. He definitely brought some additional capability for a limited cap hit, but he's up there in space and should not be in the Chiefs' plans for the future. The Chiefs can do better with 10 years younger Okafor and Ogbah.

Demone Harris, even if he saw a bit of game action, Tim Ward (NFI), Braxton Hoyett (PS), Devaroe Lawrence (PS), and Anthony Lanier (new signing) are unknowns to me which I consider training camp candidates with limited chances of making the initial 2020 team.

The Outlook:

As stated up front - a lot depends on what's going to happen with re-signings. I think it is possible to bring back Chris Jones without busting the cap situation. Beyond that I would seriously try to bring back Emmanuel Ogbah and Mike Pennel. About Xavier Williams I'm not so sure. But with Jones, Pennel, and Ogbah coming back, plus those from IR, the Chiefs may even have an overload of capable players which may, after camp, make the likes of Breeland Speaks expendable, even if that admits draft failure. For the draft I only see marginal importance here. A couple of UDFA or cheap street signings, mainly on the inside, to round out the crew for training camp should suffice. If Jones walks I'm not sure an inside DL with Nnadi, Williams, Saunders, and Pennel would be able to produce a similar kind of pressure from the front four the Chiefs managed to create this year. Not having his disruptive force inside could create the necessity of beefing up the outside pass rush from the OLB position.

Edited by KC_Guy
Added Demone Harris, who the Chiefs now list as a DE

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If Chris Jones Ogbah re-sign, the DL is pretty stacked.

Ogbah and Okafor were both effective before their injuries and Breeland Speaks never had a chance to show in the new system. Jones, Nnadi and Pennel were an effective rotation, and DE will sometimes move inside. Still, another body would not be unwelcome and that assumes Chris Jones is back. He was a monster in the playoffs and SB. He won't be cheap. 

One nice thing is that we can use what other teams consider tweeners.

J

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I think the DL is definitely a strenght too. Doesn't need a big investment in the draft or FA. I'm waiting to see how much Jones wants, but I'm leaning towards cashing in on him. The draft capital and cap space could prove invaluable in the coming years. Really depends on how much he wants and what return we could get for him. Any speculation as to what we could expect to get in a tag and trade for him?

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2 hours ago, onejayhawk said:

So did the Chiefs. Harris didn't play a down in the SB.

J

True but he did play quite a bit this year

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10 hours ago, kingseanjohn said:

@KC_Guy

You forgot Demone Harris. He's under contract for one more year.

The team lists him as a Linebacker

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There are not a lot of 270 pound LB in 4-3 defenses. Harris is young. He likely makes the team and provides depth, but 2020 will be a prove it season.

Most likely, DH did not play down the stretch because we were focusing on the playoff rotations. That being the case, the amount of play Fenton and Thompson had in the playoffs and SB is telling. 

J

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On 2/9/2020 at 9:34 AM, onejayhawk said:

There are not a lot of 270 pound LB in 4-3 defenses. Harris is young. He likely makes the team and provides depth, but 2020 will be a prove it season.

Most likely, DH did not play down the stretch because we were focusing on the playoff rotations. That being the case, the amount of play Fenton and Thompson had in the playoffs and SB is telling. 

J

Keep in mind, this is a Spags 4-3. He used to love standing up a DE, calling them a LB, and just having them crash the line anyways. It's what got Mathias Kiwanuka's career going. They called him a LB, positioned him on the field like a LB, and then told him to play like a DE anyway. Did that with Damien Wilson a bit this year, and Ragland at times, just having them crash into the line no matter what happened. Could be the appeal of Harris.

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On 2/15/2020 at 6:14 AM, Jakuvious said:

Keep in mind, this is a Spags 4-3. He used to love standing up a DE, calling them a LB, and just having them crash the line anyways. It's what got Mathias Kiwanuka's career going. They called him a LB, positioned him on the field like a LB, and then told him to play like a DE anyway. Did that with Damien Wilson a bit this year, and Ragland at times, just having them crash into the line no matter what happened. Could be the appeal of Harris.

I believe you are referencing Spags defense with the Giants.  Spags has a had mutliple stints and the only time I remember him standing up a DE at LB with the Giants and that was because of how they were stacked with pass rushers.  I have heard this reference multiple times and I believe it is misleading. 

Spags defense with the Chiefs is more of what he ran with Andy Reid under his seven year mentor Joe Johnson from 1999-2006.  A truly aggressive but prototypical 4-3 with a lot of zone blitz packages.  I don't think we will see any LB that isn't a true 4-3 LB like Ragland and Wilson who are more in the Jeremiah Trotter mold.  

Look for us to strengthen the LB core again this year, I could see us trying to retain Jones with the emphasis that the Eagles put on the DT position from 2000-2006 when they drafted a DT in the first round 3/7 times. 

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With Chris Jones in limbo, is DT a draft priority? 

It's a good draft for them and we have basically the same pick we used on Jones--#32 vs #33. Last year was a monster draft for DT, so a lot of teams have already restocked. We also re-signed Pennel, so we have a pair of run stuffing DT. Beyond that, we also have Breeland Speaks coming off injury. He has been mentioned as 3-tech player. We had some samples of TK in that role, so I give it credit. It was not that long ago that we drafted Raheem Nunez-Roches in the 6th round. He would be perfect. 

In the #25-#40 range, 3 players sit--Gallimore, Blacklock, Madubuike. Should we plan to take one of them, if available, and plan the rest of the draft around that?

J

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On 2/14/2020 at 9:14 PM, Jakuvious said:

Keep in mind, this is a Spags 4-3. He used to love standing up a DE, calling them a LB, and just having them crash the line anyways. It's what got Mathias Kiwanuka's career going. They called him a LB, positioned him on the field like a LB, and then told him to play like a DE anyway. Did that with Damien Wilson a bit this year, and Ragland at times, just having them crash into the line no matter what happened. Could be the appeal of Harris.

Exactly why I'd love to see us draft Zach Baun.

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2 hours ago, onejayhawk said:

With Chris Jones in limbo, is DT a draft priority? 

It's a good draft for them and we have basically the same pick we used on Jones--#32 vs #33. Last year was a monster draft for DT, so a lot of teams have already restocked. We also re-signed Pennel, so we have a pair of run stuffing DT. Beyond that, we also have Breeland Speaks coming off injury. He has been mentioned as 3-tech player. We had some samples of TK in that role, so I give it credit. It was not that long ago that we drafted Raheem Nunez-Roches in the 6th round. He would be perfect. 

In the #25-#40 range, 3 players sit--Gallimore, Blacklock, Madubuike. Should we plan to take one of them, if available, and plan the rest of the draft around that?

J

I don't think so. Even without Jones they are pretty well stocked there. Nnadi, Pennel, Saunders (and if necessary X. Williams) should hold down the fort. Jones of course would add a whole other dimension to the line.

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We are not well stocked at DT.

Nnadi, Pennel, Saunders are all pluggers. We need what Jones brings, penetration. Again, Speaks could be that guy but he isn't proven yet.

J

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