The Kansas City Chiefs followed up their championship-winning season with a consecutive Super Bowl appearance. Unfortunately, this Super Bowl trip ended in utter disaster as the offensive line had a complete breakdown and the defense failed to do much.
For a team coming off consecutive Super Bowls appearances, the Kansas City Chiefs have a surprising number of holes. The linebacker group has been lacking for years, the cornerback position is thin, the defensive line cannot create pressure outside of Chris Jones, the offensive line needs a facelift, and the wide receivers are incredibly lackluster after Tyreek Hill. With a bevy of holes and lack of depth, what are the three biggest needs the team needs to address in the 2021 NFL draft?
2021 NFL Draft: Top 3 Needs For The Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs’ days of Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, and Justin Houston are long gone. The Chiefs have completely failed at replacing the linebackers that carried the franchise for years. Last year, the team drafted Willie Gay Jr. in the second round and his rookie season was filled with promise but outside of him, the team is lacking any linebacker with potential.
The Chiefs chose not to address the unit in free agency. They lost Damien Wilson to free agency. They currently have five linebackers on the roster; Anthony Hitchens, Willie Gay Jr, Ben Niemann, Dorian O’Daniel, and Darius Harris. That’s a problem. Ben Niemann was the 58th ranked linebacker by PFF and Hitchens was the 60th. Outside of Gay, the team desperately needs an infusion of talent, youth, and speed.
Luckily, the 2021 NFL draft is loaded with talent, including at linebacker. The amount of talent could cause high-caliber prospects to fall. If Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah happens to be one of those players, he would be a home run pick for the Kansas City Chiefs. A sneaky pick the team could make would be Jamin Davis. Davis is an incredible athlete and can be a do it all defender for the team; something they desperately need. Matt House recruited Davis to Kentucky which is an important tidbit considering Matt House is now the linebacker coach for the Chiefs. The team could also look to players such as Nick Bolton, Chazz Surratt, and Dylan Moses.
The team addressed some of their offensive line issues during free agency. They were able to sign former All-Pro Joe Thuney and former pro bowler Kyle Long. They’ll also be getting Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Lucas Niang back from the Covid opt-out list. The left tackle remains a question mark, however, the team still has plenty of options.
Teven Jenkins, Samuel Cosmi, and Alex Leatherwood are all enticing first-round prospects the team could target with their first pick. Dillon Radunz could fall into that group as well. There are some intriguing later-round options as well. Walker Little was on his way to becoming a top left tackle prospect before he hurt his knee in 2019 and opted out in 2020. The tackle class for the 2021 NFL draft is incredibly deep but this is a position the Kansas City Chiefs needs to address with one of their first two picks.
The argument for a wide receiver could be made here. However, Andy Reid and Patrick Mahomes can work with just about anyone at receiver. Not just anyone can be an effective pass rusher though. Frank Clark is supposed to be a premier edge rusher for the Chiefs yet he only had nine quarterback hurries (51st), 25 pressures (44th), and ten quarterback knockdowns (35th). Clark is the fourth highest-paid defensive end in the NFL, yet based on his play you wouldn’t know it. He fails to consistently and effectively get to the quarterback.
The depth behind Clark isn’t great either. It’s cause for concern when former first-round bust Taco Charlton is your second-best defensive end. The team signed Jarran Reed which is peculiar given the fact that he plays defensive tackle and that’s a position that the team is strong at. The team could envision Chris Jones sliding out to the edge which would significantly help the team but it isn’t a long-term answer. If Clark has yet another disappointing season, the team could move on from him after 2021 which makes the edge situation even more pressing for Kansas City.
If the Chiefs want to add an edge rusher early on, players such as Jayson Oweh and Joe Tryon. Both are very athletic and have an abundance of speed. If the team decides to wait until later in the draft, Dayo Odeyingbo would be a perfect fit for Steve Spagnuolo‘s 4-3 scheme. Odeyingbo has the measurables that Spagnuolo covets in his defensive lineman and he also has the versatility to play any position along the line. Odeyingbo is also incredibly stout against the run which is another aspect the Chiefs must improve on.
Thanks for reading my article on the 2021 NFL Draft: 3 Big Needs for the Chiefs Heading into the Draft. Follow me on Twitter @Hobby_Connect for more content and NFL talk!