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2020 KC Chiefs Roster Analysis - The Linebackers

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The final batch!

An Overview:

The Chiefs invested heavily into this unit in recent years. A big free agent signing in Hitchens, trades for Ragland and Lee, a draft pick in O'Daniel and Eligwe. However, the results did not really show so far. So it seems we will see another shake-up here - despite improved play towards the end of the season. This may even be more important if Jones walks or is traded off.

The Players:

Anthony Hitchens was the big acquistion here. A huge contract paired with high expectations. He badly disappointed early on but seemed to improve towards season's end. Most expected him to play outside, at least to me it came as a surprise when the Chiefs moved him to the inside. Looking back I just wonder if the outside would have been the better position for him with ...

Reggie Ragland manning the middle. His playing time was limited, and seemed to drop even further during the Super Bowl run. As a free agent I think there's a limited very limited possibility of him returning - and if so it better be in a backup role.

Damien Wilson may have been flying under the radar but I consider him one of the better acquisitions this year. He'll be back - and will probably man the stron side again.

Darron Lee was expected to be the coverage guy due to his speed. Well, that trade flopped mightly. He wasn't even an afterthought during the final weeks of the season.

Ben Niemann to the contrary earned more playing time on defense towards the end of the year. He may be someone to watch taking on a bigger role next year. At this stage of his career I consider him a suitable backup on the inside at minimum - if not more. 

Dorian O'Daniel entered the team with high expectations. His speed was considered a strength, especially in coverage. However, so far he didn't see much playing time on defense. He'd be an afterthought for the unit during offseason.

Darius Harris went on IR early on. As an unproven undrafted rookie last year .. well, he's probably a name on the roster for now. Same is true for Practice Squad player Emmanuel Smith.

Terrell Suggs as another big name signing for the final stretch should be out. He really helped, but is up there in age and nevertheless probably too pricey to keep during the regular season.

The Outlook:

I think we wil see significant change here. The only fix I see right now is Wilson at SLB. I don't expect Ragland, Lee, and Suggs to be back. (On second thought: each of them could net the team a comp pick in 2021 ...). Hitchens ... I'm not siure where to line him up to maximize his potential. Niemann could be an (not optimal) option in the middle.

What I would like to see here is someone who brings the same swagger to the unit the Honeybadger did to the DBs (or as DJ did a while ago). Someone to kick a*s*s. I don't think the team will be able to find a player like that in FA due to cap limitations. So this should be a high priority unit during the draft. I expect a pick somewhere between round 1 and 3.

How about something like:

WLB - Hitchens, O'Daniel
MLB - draft pick, Niemann
SLB - WilsonDar. Harris


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We could benefit greatly from finding a starting quality MLB in the draft this year or next. Spotrac says Hitchens has 12M in dead cap this season and 8M next, so we're unfortunately stuck with that contract for 2 more years. Next year might be a better time to draft his replacement.

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Niemann is the thinking man's LB in the middle. He was excellent in the Super Bowl. Some here think we need to draft a starting LB. I don't.

Wilson, Niemann and Hichens will do well enough. O'Daniel will definitely be back. He and Niemann are anchors of the ST. If Niemann takes on a bigger role in the regular defense, Do'D will likely get more responsibility on ST. He may be on our roster for another decade. Ragland has value as a situational player and could be back if cheap. Lee, in contrast, looks toasty. 

Fortunately, history has shown that very good MLB are available on the second and third day. Look closely, but no rush.


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Posted (edited)

I liked Niemann. He's a lunchpail kinda guy. He really laid a lick on Garrapalo in the SB, under the helmet.  On the other hand, i'd be please if we drafted Zach Baun. I think our LB's could rally around him

Edited by mayanfootball

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