Arrowhead Pride’s own Ron Kopp Jr. wrote about his top 20 Kansas City Chiefs here. We can (and will — on next week’s Out of Structure podcast) debate where each player ranks, but it’s also time to check in on the “market movers” this offseason — to see who is trending heading into training camp.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire: Everyone should be bullish on Edwards-Helaire at this point, and it’s easy to see why. After a solid rookie season (1,100 total yards, five touchdowns), the Chiefs went out and built a more powerful and competent offensive line in front of their former first-round pick. He’s working on his receiving skills and expects to show the dual-threat ability that made him a first-round selection in the first place. This preseason, Edwards-Helaire can establish himself as a cornerstone of the offense.
Willie Gay Jr.: Success is where preparation, talent and opportunity intersect. By all accounts so far, these three things are lining up for the second-year linebacker. He should have every chance to shine as the WILL this season and show off his athletic ability, now that Damien Wilson is no longer on the team, and Gay has an entire preseason to work as the starter.
L’Jarius Sneed: After a stellar rookie campaign, the Chiefs are showing a ton of faith in the former fourth-round pick. He’ll likely play on the outside on early downs and slide inside on sub-packages. Assuming he stays healthy, he’ll be a factor in coverage, forcing turnovers and blitzing. Sneed looks like the type of player that’s poised to go from “very good for a day-three pick” to being in the conversation for the best player on the defense.
Frank Clark: We’ll see what happens with Clark’s legal situation and his status with the team. But, regardless of the outcome, this isn’t the offseason you would want one of the leaders of the Chiefs defense to have. Clark talked about re-dedicating himself to his craft, focusing on football and being healthy and more productive for the coming season. The Chiefs also let some of the depth and help at the EDGE position walk this offseason (Alex Okafor, Tanoh Kpassagnon). They are counting on Clark more than ever, and he’s got a massive distraction hanging over him as they enter camp.
Armani Watts: The Chiefs added a versatile defender this offseason in Will Parks, which might mean competition for Watts’ roster spot. Both make a similar salary, both are great special teams players, but Parks has had more NFL success as a defender. The depth chart at safety includes two top-end starters (Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill) and a versatile coaches’ favorite (Daniel Sorensen), so it’s getting more difficult to see the path for Watts to remain on the 53.
Austin Blythe: It’s strange to list a player just acquired and hasn’t played a single game with the Chiefs as a bear, but Blythe might be an unusual case. When signed, he was the presumed starter at the center position. Then the Chiefs used one of their early-round picks on Creed Humphrey and plugged him in from day one of OTAs as the starter. So, you’d assume that Blythe is now the first interior offensive lineman off the bench at the three interior positions. But Blythe was conspicuously absent from reports out of minicamp, and you have to wonder if his roster spot is already in question. He should have a shot at winning a job in camp, but it’s certainly less likely than it was before the draft.
Value (sleeper) picks
Rashad Fenton: We’ve started talking about Fenton as one of the more underrated Chiefs going into this season. As mentioned above on Sneed, the Chiefs have shown some confidence in their cornerback room, and it may also be because of Fenton. The former sixth-round pick had an interception and seven passes defended in 2020, playing in all 16 games. He can play inside or outside and does contribute on special teams. Watch to see what role Fenton carves out for himself in St. Joseph; he might be a more significant part of the team’s plans than expected.
Mecole Hardman: If Fenton is underrated, Hardman might be criminally so. For all of his shortcomings, Hardman hasn’t missed a game in the last two seasons, averaging 550 yards and 6.5 touchdowns as a WR3/gadget player. That’s actually pretty good production before you even consider his Pro Bowl-level return game with a touchdown each season. Hardman has reportedly had a strong offseason and looks poised to deliver some of the production Sammy Watkins brought to the team, but he’ll do it in his way. Don’t expect Hardman to be an “X” type No. 2 wide receiver who wins on jump balls — he doesn’t need to be that. Expect the Chiefs to let Hardman do more of what he does best — and use his dynamic speed to continue to punish teams who don’t focus on him.
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif: The ESPYS Sports Humanitarian of the Year is easing his way back into the Chiefs offseason, but there’s reason to believe he could be the starter again when the team gets to St. Joseph. Duvernay-Tardif could provide some veteran presence and stability on the right side for a line going through a lot of turnover and may feature a couple of rookies. Many fans and pundits are sleeping on the “Canadian Doctor,” but the coaches might give him the first right of refusal at the right guard spot for the beginning of the season.
For a look behind the curtain, you can access the Market Movers database here.