Name: Malik Jefferson
While watching the tape, Jefferson was a lot more aggressive at hitting the hole in 2017, compared to 2016. Jefferson has the smarts as well, to know when to fill the hole. Against, teams that ran the option, Jefferson did well on knowing when to attack the ball or stay home. Along with knowing when to attack or stay home, Jefferson has the ability to run well sideline to sideline to catch runners out on the edge. Sometimes, linebackers can almost be too aggressive, but Jefferson seems to know what he is and isn’t able to do on the defensive side of the ball.
Jefferson seems to read the pass well and is able to run with running backs or slot receivers in the middle. When he’s not covering a receiver and sitting in a zone, Jefferson does a good job of eventually aborting his coverage and rushing the quarterback if he has an open lane. Some of Jefferson’s sacks have come from plays like this. Another plus from Jefferson here is how he plays the ball. Jefferson does a good job of reading the receiver, and getting his head around to find the ball in there.
Jefferson’s tackling is exceptional and really fun to watch. When he hits the hole and has an open lane to fill, Jefferson does a good job of getting low and taking down the defender. This is something that is good for Jefferson in the draft process, as he is a little bit of a smaller prospect at linebacker. But, his size isn’t terrible and he also has shown some nice tackles when chasing down runners on the edge.
Chiefs Fit: As much of a fan favorite that Derrick Johnson is, will the Chiefs risk bringing him back in 2018? Johnson would make $8 million in 2018, and he is now 35 years old. The Chiefs already got a mini start at replacing Johnson in the future, when they acquired Reggie Ragland via trade from the Bills in August 2017. Ragland arguably had the most consistent season on the Chiefs defense last season and he only started 10 games. Also, Ramik Wilson looked much more polished in 2017, after a so-so 2016. But, Wilson was injured for much of the 2017 season.
Besides Ragland and Wilson, the Chiefs are pretty lean at inside linebacker if they decide to move on from Johnson. Malik Jefferson would complement both Ragland and Wilson’s style of play very well. Jefferson could also become more of a blitzer, which Chiefs fans know how much defensive coordinator Bob Sutton likes to dial up. This would allow Ragland and Wilson to become more polished in run defense.