Historically, the stock market was simply a physical location in New York City, where market makers and movers got together to bid and ask, shouting across the floor at one another.
The market would shut down when the closing bell rang and nothing would happen until the next day, when the opening bell sounded. Over the past couple of decades, however, investment markets have evolved to include multiple electronic exchanges, after-hours trading and a host of other innovations that essentially mean that the markets can operate in a continuous manner beyond the closing bell.
The NFL season is no different, in that it’s never really over. When the clock ran out on the Chiefs season and the Super Bowl two weeks later, teams were already beginning preparations for the next phase of the yearly cycle. Self-evaluation (self-scouting) is a big part of the process, and you’ll see plenty of upcoming content on evaluating where the Chiefs stand at this point.
We’ll take a brief look back at the 2018 season as a whole and discuss which members of the Chiefs helped or hurt their stock the most. Then, in an upcoming piece, we’ll look at the strengths and weaknesses of the roster going into 2019.
As draft season and pending free agency swing into action, the AP Nerd Squad will help find options all along the way to address the roster needs. Also, keep this link handy to be aware of the important dates coming up.
Chris Jones- For an interior defensive lineman to end up with over 15 sacks is insane. The 11 straight games with at least one sack show a level of consistency that points to it not being a fluke.
Jones was a disruptive force week in and week out, and he deserves a substantial contract offer this offseason. Brett Veach was clear about the fact that Jones can play anywhere and in any system, so we expect him to continue to shine next season in the 4-3.
Patrick Mahomes- It’s absolutely incredible how the season played out for the MVP, offensive player of the year, first-team All-Pro, etc. Even those of us who were confident in his abilities prior to the draft couldn’t have predicted a 50-touchdown, 5,000-yard season with spectacularly unprecedented plays every week. We’ve run out of superlatives to describe the kid, but he appears to be far from running out of ways to impress.
Damien Williams- The season started off slow for this particular Williams. Buried on the depth chart behind last season’s NFL rushing leader, Damien wasn’t involved in the offense (at all) until mid-December. Who would have guessed he’d score three touchdowns in the fourth quarter of the AFC Championship game? Damien earned his new contract and a longer look in 2019.
Charvarius Ward- Ward was also eased into the Chiefs lineup as the season went on, but he eventually made believers out of all of us. He’s got the size and ability to hold down a starting cornerback job going into next season. He was very active in the final two regular-season games and in the postseason. If only his last interception would have counted...
Mitchell Schwartz- Long under-appreciated, especially by Pro Bowl voters, Schwartz had arguably his best season in 2018. His impressive consecutive snap streak passed over 7,000 plays. Schwartz is the most consistent, reliable offensive lineman and he’s still in the prime of his career.
Travis Kelce- Kelce went from an excellent tight end to the record-breaking, best tight end in football this season. He might have been the best in 2017, but he removed all doubt in 2018. The level of trust between him and Mahomes bailed the Chiefs offense out of numerous tough situations over the course of the season. Outside of Mahomes, Kelce is arguably the most valuable player on the Chiefs offense.
Dorian O’Daniel- It took a while for the 2018 draft pick to even see the field. When he did, there were flashes of an impact player. All signs point to him being allowed to run around and make plays as the Will linebacker in Spagnoulo’s defense next year, so the arrow is pointed up for O’Daniel, he might just be a core part of the re-imagined Chiefs defense.
Tyreek Hill- Hill had a tremendous 2018 season, following up his 2017 campaign by improving in every statistical category. Hill worked on his route running and technique, which was evident on the field. Hill is among the elite receivers in the NFL, and he doesn’t have much left to prove. Tyreek, like Chris Jones, has earned a new contract.
Andy Reid- Big Red took the creativity on offense to a new level this year, or at least it appeared that way because of Mahomes. Elite quarterback play can take the same play-calls that fail with other QBs and turn them into big plays, but the way Reid molded the offense around his signal-caller is undeniably a positive.
The combination of Reid and Mahomes should give the Chiefs the advantage over nearly every opponent they face. We should also appreciate the job Reid has done replacing offensive coaches and continuing to improve even as the branches on his coaching tree break off to take on head-coaching jobs of their own. This season, Reid is rebuilding the defensive coaching staff, and it has the makings of a stellar group. Credit to Reid for being able to adapt and grow and for attracting top talent in players and coaches.
Others who trended in a bullish direction in 2018: Darrel Williams, Derrick Nnadi, Andrew Wylie, Austin Reiter, Jordan Lucas, Tremon Smith, Allen Bailey, Dee Ford
Anthony Hitchens- Hitchens was acquired and paid like a three-down linebacker that could do it all. He’s young, stayed relatively healthy and was given every opportunity to lead this defense. Those who didn’t watch many Chiefs games will point to his lofty tackle total (135) and say he had a good season. Unfortunately, he looked tentative and slow. His contract and past success mean that he’ll start the 2019 season as a fixture of the defense.
Hopefully, we see more of the 2017 version of Anthony Hitchens than the 2018 version.
Reggie Ragland- Hitchens didn’t live up to expectations because he performed more like what we expected from Reggie Ragland. Unfortunately, Ragland’s level of play dropped off from the trend he started in 2017. No player’s stock was presumably hurt more by the Steve Spagnuolo hire than Ragland. In today’s NFL, it’s difficult to hide a limited, two-down run-stopping inside linebacker in the 3-4. It’s basically impossible in the 4-3. There is a decent chance Ragland is on his third NFL team when training camp starts.
Orlando Scandrick- Early in the season, Scandrick was the Chiefs best cornerback. His feisty style of play and knowledge of the game brought respectable results for a while. But, as the season wore on, it was clear that Scandrick was declining. By the time the playoffs came around, he had been entirely replaced by Charvarius Ward.
Tanoh Kpassagnon- He looked poised for a breakout year, or at least one in which he was a rotational contributor. But, any playing time Kpassagnon earned wained by the end of the season, when he ended up a healthy scratch. He’ll get another Kpass at finding his place, now that there is an entirely new coaching staff and defensive scheme for 2019, but the former second-round pick certainly didn’t help his stock in 2018.
Eric Berry- It’s painful to put Berry on this list, given all that he’s been through and all he’s accomplished in his career. But, really, he had one good half this season, after not playing since the 2017 opener. His contract is officially as big of a problem as his heel, and his future is now uncertain in Kansas City. We can only hope that things turn around for a guy that should be an all-time great.
Others who trended in a bearish direction in 2018: Eric Murray, Ron Parker, Frank Zombo, Spencer Ware
Kendall Fuller- Fuller had a solid season, as the best cornerback on the Chiefs roster. But, unfortunately, that distinction was not a particularly high honor in 2018. His toughness and tackling ability were more consistent than his coverage or his ball skills. But, there’s no question that Fuller is part of the solution in 2019.
Cameron Erving- A volatile stock in 2018, Erving was terrible at first, rose to prominence at left guard, received a contract extension and a demotion, then missed time with injury, was a healthy scratch when he returned and struggled at times when he was on the field. His most notable stat was that he led the league in penalties with 15. I believe the Chiefs like Erving, and he’ll be in the mix in 2019, but his 2018 was just that... mixed.
Eric Fisher- Fisher received a Pro Bowl nod for the first time in his career, but his season certainly had its ups and downs. He’s become a solid left tackle, but he still has those inexplicable stretches where he gets beat far more often than we’d like.
Mitch Morse- Morse is one of the more interesting free-agent decisions for the Chiefs this offseason. He’s been a very good player for KC but has also struggled to stay healthy. The Chiefs love his ability to get out and block in space, but they also gave a contract extension to Austin Reiter, who filled in well when Morse was injured. If I had to guess, I’d say that Morse is allowed to find a new home in free agency, but it won’t be because he failed in KC.
Breeland Speaks- We wondered aloud where Speaks fit into the Chiefs 3-4 defense, and speculated that it wasn’t his best fit to be a linebacker. The Chiefs seem excited about Speaks returning to the 4-3 defense he played in college, and it’s pretty clear he’ll get the first shot at a starting job as the strong side defensive end. In 2018, Speaks had his moments, but was a bit of an afterthought behind Houston and Ford. In 2019, Speaks will still have a lot to prove. Hopefully, his play speaks for itself.
Sammy Watkins- Watkins’ stock was generally up this year, as he proved his worth to the Chiefs offense. Everyone was more productive when Watkins was in the lineup. The problem with Watkins is the same as it’s always been—availability. He missed most of November and December with nagging injuries. Watkins is here to stay, and still very young, so there’s every reason to believe that he’ll be a contributor going forward, when available...
Justin Houston- Houston had a good season. Not his best, but solid and at times spectacular. He rallied to make plays to help win the Ravens game after a pep talk from his DL. Then, he reasserted himself as a veteran leader down the stretch. Houston’s contract is a tough one for the Chiefs to carry, even though I’m sure they’d like to find a way. All options are seemingly on the table for Houston this offseason: he could restructure his contract and stay, he could be traded, or he could be cut. Either way, he’s one to watch.
Others who are who we thought they were: Harrison Butker, Demetrius Harris, Demarcus Robinson, LDT, Chris Conley, Daniel Sorensen, Anthony Sherman, Steven Nelson