The Kansas City Chiefs offensive line has received the majority of the headlines, and rightfully so. However, there are still other pressing needs that are worth addressing on the roster. But today, we will be focusing on the defensive side of the football. The spots worth addressing that we will be focusing on today, are EDGE defender or defensive end and cornerback.
There are free agent options that still remain on the open market. Notably, former Chargers defender Melvin Ingram recently visited the Chiefs. We will be plainly emphasizing the options in the NFL Draft today, though. The question for today’s edition of This Or That is as follows. Should Kansas City address the EDGE position or cornerback spot first in the NFL Draft? To help us make our pick, we will be looking into the depth of each position. Plus, what does history tell us, both on and off the field, regarding how the team handles these positions?
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Spencer Brown
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Janarius Robinson
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Ben Cleveland
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Nico Collins
- 2021 Chiefs Draft Prospect: Aaron Robinson
Current Depth Chart
Let’s begin, by looking at the depth chart for Kansas City, as things stands right now.
All in all, this is a much weaker spot on the Chiefs roster. Frank Clark is the big name that stands out. He could be entering a make or break season, however. The production in the playoffs has been solid. Nonetheless, Kansas City needs to get a bit more out of him in 2021. Elsewhere, Mike Danna grew as his rookie season went on in 2020. His development will be key in year two, and he is a bit different stylistically, than most defensive ends that have played for Steve Spagnuolo. Meanwhile, the rest of the depth chart includes the following players, according to Ourlads: Taco Charlton (who re-signed), Demone Harris, Tim Ward, Austin Edwards.
The team also lost Tanoh Kpassagnon and Alex Okafor to free agency. Surely, they can play around with guys like Tershawn Wharton and move them around the defensive line. But, this unit needs an upgrade in a major way. The more you think about it, the Chiefs could legitimately have a case to go EDGE in round one, depending on how the board shakes out.
L’Jarius Sneed arguably had one of the top five best seasons of any defensive rookie last season. His speed and confident coverage skills stand out on each rep. Despite missing time with a collarbone injury, the Louisiana Tech product still recorded seven pass deflections, three interceptions, three quarterback hits and two sacks. Additionally, Sneed managed to only allow a 54.2 rating when targeted and his completion percentage allowed was 59.6%. He is potentially a true blue chip player found in last year’s draft.
On the other hand, Kansas City could stand to add another body to vie for the CB2 role. Charvarius Ward has been up and down overall. The good moments have come against tough competition. And the bad moments, can leave the team in a bind with what they are wanting to do. The rest of the depth chart includes the likes of Rashad Fenton, BoPete Keyes and Deandre Baker. The warm and fuzzies are certainly there with this trio. They each have physicality and length to play man coverage. Yet, there are still ceilings with them as well.
Can these guys thrive while playing on the outside, besides Sneed? Ward certainly has had some success. Yet, the team should not pass at the opportunity to add a true lockdown option that can play outside cornerback, if it presents itself in the draft.
Under the direction of general manager Brett Veach, Kansas City has attempted to make more splash moves at EDGE than cornerback. The Clark trade with Seattle was the first major move he made after receiving the GM title. Furthermore, the cornerback position has usually been made up of day three draft picks or cheaply signed players. For example, the Chiefs rank as paying the seventh fewest amount of money to the cornerback position in 2021, per OverTheCap. Only the running back position is slated to make less money combined out of all the positions on the Kansas City roster in 2021.
Their recent transactions at these two spots also have a clear bottom line. The team is hoping to bank on consistent production more often up front, than in the defensive backfield. One move that stands out in particular was a trade acquisition of Emmanuel Ogbah. Veach and his staff bought low, only having to move replaceable safety Eric Murray in return to Cleveland. And even though it was a short lived run in Kansas City, Ogbah was one of the top producers at the EDGE position in 2019. He was able to cash in afterwards on the open market with the Miami Dolphins last offseason.
For the most part, the Chiefs have been able to survive without a true number one playmaker or ballhawk at cornerback. The odds are that it is highly likely they do not move off of that, unless they are presented with a surprising gift. Say somebody like a Caleb Farley or a Jaycee Horn somehow fell to the end of round one come April. I do not see it happening, but there are truly no absolutes in the NFL Draft. Finally, Veach has stated this offseason that he believes the cornerback class is “three to four rounds deep.”
The aspect that is rather interesting, is that both positions provide some value and solid options for day two and even day three of the 2021 NFL Draft. There is a difference that is evident. Largely, the cornerback class has more proven commodities that could likely start right away. Whereas the EDGE class, has a larger number of raw, developmental players. These guys more than likely have their best football left ahead of them.
It is not entirely impossible for Kansas City to address one of these two positions on day one. But it is uncertain at this point, when they could first attack those spots. As a result, let’s list the top options and scheme fits that could be had on day two and day three for both EDGE and cornerback.
Day Two EDGEs
Here are some of the top names that I could see the Chiefs selecting in either round two or three: Miami’s Quincy Roche, Oklahoma’s Ronnie Perkins, UAB’s Jordan Smith, Oregon State’s Hamilcar Rashed Jr., Houston’s Payton Turner and Florida State’s Janarius Robinson.
Day Three EDGEs
Here are some of the top names that I could see the Chiefs selecting on day three: Notre Dame’s Adetokunbo Ogundeji, Notre Dame’s Daelin Hayes, Northern Iowa’s Elerson Smith, Coastal Carolina’s Tarron Jackson, Baylor’s William Bradley-King and Iowa’s Chauncey Golston.
Day Two Cornerbacks
Here are some of the top names that I could see the Chiefs selecting in either round two or three: Stanford’s Paulson Adebo, Syracuse’s Trill Williams, South Carolina’s Israel Mukuamu, Minnesota’s Benjamin St-Juste and Georgia’s Tyson Campbell.
Day Three Cornerbacks
Here are some of the top names that I could see the Chiefs selecting on day three: Oklahoma State’s Rodarius Williams, Oklahoma’s Tre Norwood, Central Arkansas’ Robert Rochell, Oregon’s Thomas Graham Jr., Cal’s Camryn Bynum, Tennessee’s Bryce Thompson and North Carolina Central’s Bryan Mills.
Go to the poll to cast your vote for today’s edition of This Or That: Address the EDGE position or the cornerback position first in the 2021 NFL Draft?
I would say the answer here is pretty easy. The Chiefs have a legitimate gaping hole at EDGE2 on the depth chart. Last season, Clark was not as consistent of a finisher during the home stretch, like he was in 2019. The team cannot rely solely on Chris Jones to carry the load with the pass rush. Kansas City also ranked 19th in sacks last season (32). The natural pressure has to get home more often. Plus, the cornerback class likely has more talented sleepers available later on, compared to the EDGE class. Whether it is someone with a physical presence, or speed and explosiveness, the Chiefs need to add some juice up front.
Be on the lookout for more FPC Chiefs This Or That hypothetical articles throughout this 2021 offseason. We will post them on Tuesday and Thursday. For more great sports and NFL content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.