Filed under "Great minds think alike", I noticed that ESPN's Adam Teicher predicted what the Chiefs 2015 starting defense will look like. I've been keep track of the same thing so we'll do that here too, as well as the offense in another post.
The Chiefs defense, unlike the offense, is fairly straight forward. We might have a few disagreement on who starts at cornerback (Jamell Fleming or Phillip Gaines) and perhaps outside linebacker (Tamba Hali or Dee Ford) but there probably won't be a lot of disagreement here. I'm pretty much in agreement with Teicher's assessment.
One thing to remember is that this almost certainly won't be the lineup in Week 1. Injuries will happen, other players will emerge and some players will disappoint. Something will happen.
DE: Mike DeVito
NT: Dontari Poe
DE: Allen Bailey
Jaye Howard was the starter last season when DeVito went down. He figures in here as well from a depth standpoint. Howard did well but the Chiefs probably aren't bringing DeVito back unless they think he can be a starter. So he starts. Poe is obviously the man and Bailey got a four-year extension during last season.
OLB: Justin Houston
ILB: Derrick Johnson
ILB: Josh Mauga
OLB: Tamba Hali
We're assuming Houston, whose rookie contract was worth less than $3 million, would like to collect on his $13 million franchise tag so he will be there. When he shows up, he is the unquestioned starter at outside linebacker and the best player on the defense. On the other side, I'm giving the early season starting nod to Tamba Hali over Dee Ford. Tie goes to the veteran but there's an argument here that Ford needs to be the featured player with Tamba spotting him.
The inside linebackers make sense on paper but there's more to it than that. DJ is coming off an Achilles and no matter how much we think he really is Superman that's a tough injury to come back from. Josh Mauga was signed to a three-year extension this offseason so that feels like he's got the leg up there. I would guess more competition is coming here.
CB: Phillip Gaines
CB: Sean Smith
S: Ron Parker
S: Husain Abdullah
I really like Phililp Gaines and thought he was the Chiefs best rookie. Gaines is better at sliding inside on the subpackgaes so I could see the argument that Fleming should be here but this is my prediction and I predict Gaines, who needs to be the man if Sean Smith leaves, will be the man. I could see another cornerback being added to this mix but I think it's only a matter of time until Gaines locks down that outside corner spot. The rest of the positions are fairly straight forward and not surprising.
Tyvon Branch is not mentioned here. I need to see some practices and how the Chiefs line him up before making any more guesses but I will note that he was the Raiders starting nickel at one point. He has some versatility.