Some might be surprised to see him on this list. They shouldn’t be. As a rookie, he was outstanding in coverage for the Chiefs. In his second season, he will be a Pro Bowl player.
DT · 25 years old
As measured by how many yards an opposing rusher gained when running within 3 yards of a defensive player, Nnadi was king last season, shutting down ball carriers at the highest rate among all interior defenders. PFF gave him a 81.7 grade in run defense, one of the best marks among interior defenders. The fit between Nnadi and Chris Jones is pretty masterful, which lends credence to the thought that Chiefs GM Brett Veach is underrated. Jones earned PFF’s second-highest pass-rush grade among interior defenders (93.1 — only Aaron Donald posted a higher figure at 93.6). This DT duo is even more productive than the sum of the parts because Nnadi and Jones complement each other so well.
No. 3: Tom Brady — Bucs
Brady is past the point where he’ll be a stat-stuffing God, but until someone else proves it he’s still the best pure winner at the position in football. With the support around him in Tampa Bay, there’s nothing preventing him from having another great season, perhaps even taking the Buccaneers back to the Super Bowl.
No. 2: Patrick Mahomes — Chiefs
It’s Pat Mahomes. Nuff said, really. Seriously though, crushing Super Bowl loss aside, the Chiefs have made moves to get Mahomes more protection, which feels like the only thing holding him back from throwing for 5,000 yards a season like it’s nothing.
4. T Martinas Rankins
A year ago, the Chiefs showed why it was important that a team not only have a strong offensive line but depth as well. In 2019, the club obtained Martinas Rankin from the Houston Texans in exchange for running back Carlos Hyde. He started five games at guard later that year and in Kansas City’s 2020 regular-season finale he opened at left tackle in place of Eric Fisher.
Of course, the latter is no longer with the club along with starting right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. This offseason, the organization swung a deal with the Ravens for Orlando Brown Jr. and he’s take over on the left side. Rankin has appeared in just seven regular-season contests in two years with the club.
Around the NFL
Typical of a Patriots running back in the last decade or so, Burkhead filled a role in a committee-like backfield, and he heads to a team with more than a handful of options in its own running backs room. Burkhead’s addition brings Houston’s total to seven at the position, and it’s a group headlined by a few runners (David Johnson, Mark Ingram, Phillip Lindsay) trying to create new magic at various stages of their respective individual careers.
The 36-year-old TE began his career in San Francisco, spending seven years in the Bay Area after he was selected in the sixth round of the 2006 draft. Playing alongside draft-mate Vernon Davis, Walker compiled 1,465 yards and eight touchdowns from 2006-2012 with the Niners.
When Walker left San Francisco for Tennessee in 2013, his production ballooned. The athletic pass-catcher made three Pro Bowls in seven seasons with the Titans, compiling 4,423 yards and 28 TDs on 381 receptions. A weapon on every area of the field, Walker earned a 1,000-plus yard season and three years over the 800-yard mark in Tennessee.
Diggs was slated to make roughly $12.7 million in base salary in 2021; that figure is now down to $990,000. Buffalo, meanwhile, now has $11,084,995 in cap space, per Spotrac.
The timing of Diggs’ restructured deal comes as teams can take on less dead cap money after a June 1 trade or release — and will generate some curiosity as multiple players, including Philadelphia’s Zach Ertz and Atlanta’s Julio Jones, are expected to be moved from their current teams. It also creates more breathing room for the Bills, who have yet to sign first-round pick Greg Rousseau or third-round pick Spencer Brown.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
I started my professional career at 610 Sports Radio in November of 2014 — just as the Kansas City Royals were entering a World Series against the San Francisco Giants. I’ll always remember the last game of that series, as I was at a concert in Kansas City, and they stopped the show so everyone could watch the final inning of the game. Sadly, the Royals fell short that year only to pull it off the following season during my first year as an intern and part-time employee at 610. Covering a World Series team right out of the gate — and the long hours that came with it — prepared me for what was to come.
That was covering a highly competitive Kansas City Chiefs team that would eventually draft Patrick Mahomes and win a Super Bowl. I’ll always cherish the Alex Smith years because the Chiefs were finally interesting enough to consistently be near the top of the AFC. They were always competitive during my time at 610, and that’s all anyone can ask for in sports.
I was in the Arrowhead Stadium tunnel when the New England Patriots scored the game-winning touchdown in the 2018 AFC championship game. My 610 assignment for the day was covering the Patriots locker room. It was not a good day for Chiefs fans, but it was a time that reminded me about the why of the sports media grind.
I started down this path because of my love for football — and managing to cover my hometown team at a time when they drafted the best player in the league has been something that I have been so fortunate to experience... and I am thrilled to continue that experience here with you at Arrowhead Pride.
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