Defense wins championships, at least that has been evident when looking at past Super Bowl champions. We now shift our roster projections to the defensive side of the ball, where Kansas City has a ton of new bodies in some important roles. Without delay, let’s start up front with the Chiefs defensive line.
The Big Hogs
The starting line combination is filled with some of the biggest athletes that the Chiefs have. Chris Jones is in tremendous shape following a breakout season. What is impressive is how quickly he moves his 6’6” frame through the line of scrimmage. Jones’ lateral step is a big reason why his Tackles for Loss went up in 2017. On the other end, Allen Bailey continued to be an unsung hero in the Chiefs maligned run defense over the last few years. Bailey dealt with some injuries throughout his career, but his presence remains important for Kansas City.
Next, we look to the middle of the line where we find newly acquired Xavier Williams. He grew up in Kansas City and is now getting a chance to live out his dream. Williams has performed well in the first two preseason games, and a big cog in the middle like him is something the Chiefs needed after losing Dontari Poe.
When it comes to the starters, the Chiefs defensive line can arguably do it all. This is what the Kansas City needed going into the season. Above all, a line that can provide a strong push up front throughout the entirety of a game while being able to play fast.
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With the three starters seeing most of the snaps, most of the rotation is likely to come at defensive tackle. That leaves the Chiefs likely keeping more linebackers and defensive backs. I project that the Chiefs will only go with six total defensive linemen, therefore leaving three other guys to make the cut.
First, we will look at Jarvis Jenkins who has done well in his limited role for the Chiefs. His contributions are more in the run game than in pass defense, but his ability to close down on a play is what really matters. Jenkins really showed this in the final month of last season, particularly against Marshawn Lynch when the Raiders came to Kansas City.
Next, there’s the rookie from Florida State, Derrick Nnadi. Nnadi slips through blocks as if the offensive linemen were covered in butter. That is something that Nnadi has shown, not only during camp and preseason games but in his college days as well. The power that Nnadi generates up front will be a nice boost when coming in for Williams on the inside. Nnadi took a big jump in the last preseason game against Atlanta, compared to the first game against Houston. He was getting to the ball on most plays, and his awareness to find the ball carrier was quite apparent.
Finally, we have Justin Hamilton. Hamilton is not as fast as most of these other defensive linemen, but he fills his gap and causes ball carriers to get eaten up. He is built a lot like a Haloti Ngata. Hamilton will be needed in moments where the Chiefs have seven or eight defensive backs on the field, in games where the other team is trying to claw back.
Final depth chart:
LE: 1) Chris Jones 2) Justin Hamilton
DT: 1) Xavier Williams 2) Derrick Nnadi
RE: 1) Allen Bailey 2) Jarvis Jenkins
That will do it for the Chiefs defensive line. Next time we will look at the linebackers, who might be the biggest factor in the Kansas City defense this season. As always, stayed tuned to Full Press Coverage for great sports content!