It’s been a dizzying offseason for the Chiefs’ franchise with cuts, trades, a full draft class and a solid group of undrafted free agents.
UDFAs Brett Veach highlighted Monday:— Arrowhead Pride (@ArrowheadPride) April 29, 2019
- Texas LB Gary Johnson
- MTSU LB Darius Harris
- Washington State RB James Williams
- Toledo WR Cody Thompson
- Princeton QB/TE/HB John Lovett
- Clemson CB Mark Fields
- Old Dominion DE Tim Ward
Here’s where we think the Chiefs stand on some of the roster needs we identified:
EDGE players: The Chiefs needed at least two ends to replace Justin Houston and Dee Ford. They added Alex Okafor in free agency, traded for Emmanuel Ogbah and Frank Clark. This was a total remake of the defensive end position. With the new players, plus Breeland Speaks and Tanoh Kpassagnon, they have depth and competition that fit the preferences of new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
Defensive line: The Chiefs needed a 3-technique to backup Chris Jones and complete a nasty rotation. They appear to have gotten a good one in rookie Khalen Saunders, and the coaches are now doing backflips over their defensive line depth.
Center: Mitch Morse departed in free agency, and his replacement Austin Reiter signed a new deal, but we figured the Chiefs would look to add depth and insurance. They did so in the seventh round by drafting Nick Allegretti, who appears to be a good fit for what they like in offensive linemen. Let’s hope this late-round pick ends up being as successful as Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
Linebacker: With the switch to the 4-3 defense, the linebacker responsibilities are now quite different. There is still some disagreement on how the existing linebackers fit. I think it will be Anthony Hitchens at the MIKE (middle linebacker) and Dorian O’Daniel at the WILL (weak-side outside linebacker). At the SAM (strong-side outside linebacker), there wasn’t a great fit on the roster, so they added Damien Wilson and Jeremiah Attoachu to give a rotation with Wilson as the early-down guy and Attoachu as the extra pass rusher. We still thought they would address speed in the draft to make up for what is lacking, and they did add Gary Johnson and Darius Harris as undrafted free agents who could compete for a job.
Safety: General manager Brett Veach wasn’t messing around in addressing this need. He won the bidding war for Tyrann Mathieu and almost landed Earl Thomas. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been surprised that one of the second-round picks was used to further solidify the safety position with Juan Thornhill. With Jordan Lucas, Armani Watts and Daniel Sorensen likely competing for depth, this position is in good hands now.
Running back: We debated whether this was truly a need or not, given the ability Damien Williams showed at the end of the season, and the promise Darrel Williams showed in the preseason. The team then added veteran Carlos Hyde, a guy similar to the others on the roster. If there were a need, it was for a dynamic pass-catcher who could mix in the rotation. They got just that in Darwin Thompson in the sixth round and James Williams as an undrafted free agent. This will make for fun competition in camp, and great depth this season.
THE FOUR NEEDS STILL OUTSTANDING
1. No. 2 tight end
The Chiefs Blake Bell and lost Demetrius Harris in free agency but didn’t get another tight end in the draft even though it was a strong draft. They need a second tight end that can consistently block and catch a pass here and there. There is also a need for a backup in case Travis Kelce gets hurt or in the event that he leaves in free agency one day. This certainly is a spot in which the Chiefs could add competition unless the team is as excited as these three guys likely are.
They lost Steven Nelson, replacing him (at least for one year) with Bashaud Breeland. We all expected an early pick at this position, but the Chiefs waited until round six to add Rashad Fenton. If there is a big move brewing, it’s to add a front-line player. I think there is little chance the Chiefs start the season with this existing depth chart.
3. Wide receiver
This was a need before the Tyreek Hill drama, and it remains a need after the draft. The Chiefs were aggressive in going up to get Mecole Hardman, who has the speed and burst to do some of the things Hill has done for the Chiefs. Even with him on board, the position still appears lacking and could use a veteran addition or some youth to step up. Speaking of youth, they do have some intriguing options, including Byron Pringle, Gehrig Dieter, Sammie Coates, Jamal Custis and Cody Thompson. There are a lot of snaps up for grabs with Chris Conley and likely Hill being gone, and I’m not sold on these guys taking them all in 2019.
4. Swing tackle
The Chiefs don’t have a third offensive tackle on the roster as it stands. They have plenty of bodies at guard, some of which could play tackle in a pinch, including Cam Erving, but we’d like to see a true tackle added. Eric Fisher’s large contract is up after next season, and the team would be wise to protect against injury and cap issues with a developmental backup.