Predicting the Kansas City Chiefs defensive stat leaders – Arrowhead Addict

After an offseason of significant change, let’s look at who we believe will be the Kansas City Chiefs’ statistical leaders on defense in 2022.

With the season set to kick off for the Chiefs, who are going to be the top producers on defense? Predicting the Kansas City Chiefs defensive stat leaders can be broken down to 4 categories. Tackles, sacks, interceptions, and forced fumbles.

Tackles (Total Combined)

Anthony Hitchens and Daniel Sorenson have been atop this category in recent years. Both have since moved on to different teams. Nick Bolton in his rookie season had a team-high 112 total combined tackles. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo often schemes top cornerback L’Jarius Sneed where the ball seems to be going. Even though he led Kansas City in postseason stops in 2021, leading a team for an entire season is unlikely for that position.  Consequently it’d be fitting to see Bolton’s numbers increase due to assuming a bigger role in the defense.

Our prediction for the Chiefs’ tackles leader in 2022:

  • Tackles (Total Combined) – Nick Bolton: 147     (2021) Bolton: 112

Sacks

By far Chris Jones remains the best player on this defensive line. He’s had the most sacks 4 years in a row. Bringing down opposing quarterbacks is a team effort.  It starts with coaching as well as each player on the field. Will there be exotic blitz packages? Who steps up to provide pressure alongside Jones? Frank Clark has slimmed down which should give his pass rush a much needed lift. 1st round draft pick George Karlaftis and free agent addition Carlos Dunlap bring depth at defensive end. Jones therefore should be mostly an interior force where he’s been dominant throughout his career. Seeing less double teams bumps up his sack total from last season.

Our prediction for the Chiefs’ sack leader in 2022:

  • Sacks – Chris Jones: 10.5     (2021) Jones: 9

Interceptions

Predicting who will lead in this statistic is more of a gamble. Tyrann Mathieu no longer being in a Chiefs uniform leaves a host of players yearning to fill a void. Safeties Juan Thornhill and Justin Reid will get the majority of those reps now. Thornhill’s reputation as a ball hawk coming out of college has thus far been stalled. Cornerbacks L’Jarius Sneed, Rashad Fenton, and Trent McDuffie may see plenty of opportunities to come away with interceptions. Outside of those in the secondary, Willie Gay will attempt to capitalize on his 2 from last season. However, during the offseason Chiefs fans heard Thornhill’s confidence to play at an All-Pro level.  To do so he will have to make his presence felt in this category.

Our prediction for the Chiefs’ interceptions leader in 2022:

  • Interceptions – Juan Thornhill: 4     (2021) Tyrann Mathieu: 3

Forced Fumbles

Relying on your secondary to do everything typically is an indicator of a sub-par defense. In 2021, Mike Hughes jarred out 4 fumbles from ball carriers. Sneed, Thornhill, McDuffie, and Reid certainly will make plays. If this defense is going to improve, a change is mandatory here. Linemen usually don’t get quite as many chances to hit ball carriers. Hopefully, there is a significant impact from Willie Gay and Nick Bolton creating turnovers. Both have the capability to blow up plays. Flying around using youth and athleticism can create a disaster for teams who aren’t careful. The dynamic duo now possess experience to cause game changing plays in crucial moments.

Our predictions for the Chiefs’ forced fumbles leaders in 2022:

  • Forced Fumbles – Nick Bolton: 2   Willie Gay: 2    (2021) Mike Hughes: 4

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