On the Wednesday episode of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory, we placed the linebacker position under the microscope. We looked at the 2019 performance for the position and discussed free agent and draft targets that make sense for the Chiefs.
Every week, we’ll go position by position leading up to draft weekend. Here are who we think are the best fits in free agency and the draft:
Free Agency: Haason Reddick
We’re cheating a little bit here.
Haason Reddick is not a free agent (for now) but is a prime cut or trade candidate for the Arizona Cardinals. The Chiefs need to be looking at cost-controlled options at linebacker in order to manage major roster decisions with limited cap space.
When the Chiefs were rumored to be trading up in the 2017 NFL Draft, the initial report was that it was for a linebacker. When that came out, I thought it could be Reddick. The former Temple Owl was taken three picks after Patrick Mahomes. Since then, he’s played for three different head coaches in three different defensive schemes. Amidst the turmoil, Reddick has yet to find success in the NFL. He started five of the first six games of last season for the Cardinals but didn’t the rest of the year.
With the Chiefs needing to add athleticism to the linebacker position, Reddick would be an intriguing buy-low on a strong athletic profile and a pass-rush background. The Chiefs should be able to gain insight on Reddick, as Chiefs coach Britt Reid was at Temple for part of his time there. Brett Veach has been known to acquire former round-one players at their lowest value. This would be a continuation of that trend.
Draft: Zack Baun, Wisconsin
It’s quite likely at this juncture that linebackers like Patrick Queen and Kenneth Murray will not be available at 32 when the Chiefs finally select in the first round. A fantastic consolation — if the Chiefs are to invest early at linebacker — would be Zach Baun from Wisconsin.
Baun spent most of his time at the Senior Bowl playing as an off-ball linebacker. If you’ve heard any of our podcasts from Mobile to now, you’re probably familiar with what we think of him, hence labeling him a perfect fit.
Baun improved every single day and displayed enough athleticism to improve the coverage at the linebacker level for the Chiefs. He is a smart player and should have no problem picking up Steve Spagnuolo’s defense if he was selected. What’s more is Baun can rush the passer, amassing 12.5 sacks his final season with the Badgers, playing primarily as an outside linebacker. Adding the Baun’s versatility to the front seven of the defense would improve the athleticism and cover skills of a position group that desperately needs it. The pass-rush juice is an added bonus.
KC Draft Guide
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