The Chiefs quietly overhauled their defense this offseason. As the final roster cuts come down, its time to ask if KC is better off with their new defense.
The Kansas City Chiefs have officially finished their 2022 preseason slate and we have entered the final stretch before the start of the regular season. As you are reading this, most Chiefs fans are either anticipating the final roster cuts or the names of the players cut may have started trickling out already. Regardless, we know who the main players on this team are going to be and it’s time to predict just how good this roster is one last time before the real games begin.
If I can pull back the writer’s curtain for a second and be honest with you, it’s a little tricky to write something relevant when you know it’s going to go up around the same time roster cuts may be announced. I can’t write about who officially made the team because it hasn’t been announced as of me writing this, but if I write about who should make the team it could be completely irrelevant by the time you’re reading this. So today I’m focusing on the main defensive roster for this season because I feel confident that we know who those players will be. There may be a few places where I speculate on their depth at the position and if final roster cuts prove those speculations wrong, you’ll have to forgive me.
There has been a lot of attention this offseason on the loss of Tyreek Hill and the multiple pass catchers that will collectively replace him. Because of that, the dramatic overhaul of the defense has flown a little under the radar. In one offseason the Chiefs are replacing a starting safety and the vocal/emotional leader of their defense, their best starting outside cornerback, their starting middle linebacker, one of their starting defensive ends, a starting defensive tackle, and several rotational depth players that got a lot of defensive snaps. At the end of the day, there were 18 players that got significant snaps on defense last season and exactly half of them are not back this season. Those nine players that aren’t back accounted for a combined 5,634 defensive snaps last season that now must be replaced. There is no way you can spin that as anything other than a major overhaul.
Now you can certainly argue that the overhaul was much needed, but just because the defense last year needed to be overhauled doesn’t guarantee that the new guys you brought in will be better than the guys they are replacing. So this week I thought I’d take a closer look at all three levels of the Chiefs’ defense (defensive line, linebackers, and secondary) and look at who the Chiefs lost and who they gained and try to come away with a reasonable prediction of if that group will be better, worse, or about the same this season.
Let’s kick things off up front with the defensive line.