Projected PBWR: 61%
Projected offensive line: Orlando Brown Jr. (28th), Joe Thuney (29th), Austin Blythe (25th), Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (DNP), Mike Remmers (10th)
Kansas City’s remade offensive line — we project the Chiefs to have four new starters — should protect Patrick Mahomes well, beyond what the individual ranks above might suggest. In 2019, Thuney and Duvernay-Tardif ranked second and 21st among guards in PBWR, while Brown ranked sixth among tackles. The model considers performance in each of the past two seasons, so that’s a reason for optimism that’s factored in.
Kansas City Chiefs
OL Creed Humphrey
Impressive stat to know: Allowed a pressure on 2.3% of his pass-blocking snaps in his final three seasons at Oklahoma
Humphrey is the latest in a seemingly never-ending line of bruising Oklahoma blockers who enter the NFL ready to mash helmets. He started 37 games at center over three seasons for the Sooners, and his wrestling background was apparent in just about every outing. He plays with outstanding knee bend which helps him not get out-leveraged, and once he gets an angle advantage he uses his legs to drive his assignment out of the play.
The Chiefs smartly revamped what had become a patchwork offensive line, and Humphrey was one of the more NFL-ready pivots in the class. He can play guard too if Kansas City needs him there. And what better experience to block for the passing-proficient Chiefs than three seasons in Oklahoma’s “Air Raid” offense.
Sneed finished the year with 41 total tackles, two tackles for loss, two sacks, three interceptions and seven passes defended in the regular season. He posted the second-best passer rating allowed among rookie corners and the fifth-best completion percentage.
In Luke Easterling’s recent 2020 NFL re-draft, that performance from Sneed was good enough to land him just inside the top 10. He’s the first cornerback off the board going to the Jacksonville Jaguars at pick No. 9. For those keeping track, that’s 129 picks earlier than his original draft slot. It’s also one of the most significant rises of any player in this particular NFL re-draft.
With some different players on the board when the Chiefs come on the clock at pick No. 32, Easterling had the team going away from LSU RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who falls out of the first round entirely. Instead, he has them taking current Bears CB Jaylon Johnson, who was taken by Chicago at No. 50 overall in the second round. Johnson started 13 games last season, posting 44 total tackles, one tackle for loss and 15 passes defended. He’s certainly a solid consolation prize for missing out on Sneed.
4 - Mecole Hardman
Kansas City Chiefs · WR
With Sammy Watkins signing with Baltimore, Hardman has an opportunity to solidify a spot as the No. 2 receiver in Kansas City behind Tyreek Hill. His production dipped in Year 2 in the NFL (13.7 yards per catch vs. 20.7 in 2019), but there are reasons to think he could flourish with a bigger role in the offense. We know he can make big plays — even if that evidence is mostly based in what he’s done in the return game — and he did produce the third-best passer rating when targeted (116.3) of any player on the team with 50-plus targets, per Next Gen Stats. I know this selection is a bit of a projection, but I’m willing to bet on Hardman’s potential in Year 3 with Patrick Mahomes.
Kansas City Chiefs: The Pass Rush
Two years ago, on the way to a victory in Super Bowl LIV, the Kansas City Chiefs checked in 11th in the league in sacks, logging 45. In 2020, that number dropped to 32—19th in the NFL.
That’s not the sole reason the Chiefs got shelled in Super Bowl LV. Or even the biggest reason. But it’s a major concern for the two-time defending AFC champions entering 2021.
Even 32 sacks might be a hard number for the team to hit this year.
The Chiefs still have one of the league’s best 3-technique tackles in Chris Jones, who paced the team with 7.5 sacks in 2020.
But while Frank Clark made the Pro Bowl a year ago, his sack production has dipped from 13 in 2018 to eight in 2019 to six in 2020. Clark’s status for the season opener in Cleveland is also in doubt after he was arrested on two separate occasions on weapons charges in the offseason.
If Clark draws a lengthy suspension, the Kansas City pass rush could be in trouble.
2. Andy Reid, Chiefs
Staff strength: 9
I’ve seen—and certainly respect—the argument that perhaps Reid is the best head coach in the NFL at this moment. My counter to this would be a story I relay often about Belichick. On a visit to a group of military black ops specialists, he gleaned the ability to truncate sleep so that coaches could get four hours’ worth of rest in about 45 minutes. There are coaches who are brilliant schematically like Reid, and then there is an absolutely, steadfastly devoted savant who will win at any cost. That, to me, is the thin sliver of a difference between Belichick and Reid right now. That doesn’t take away from Reid’s mastery of modern offenses and perhaps his most important contribution to the NFL—a willingness to ignore convention and sample from all levels of football. This set off a cascade of copycat operations across the league that we are better for as a sport.
The Chiefs obviously have some advantages. Reid is just entering his quarterback halcyon days and has a staff that, conservatively, contains at least two coaches who will be head coaches in the very near future (Eric Bieniemy and Mike Kafka) and possibly a third in Steve Spagnuolo if the tide turns on the desire to hire coaches who are a bit older and defensive-minded.
Around the NFL
Free-agent cornerback Richard Sherman, who earlier Friday said he was “deeply remorseful for my actions,” has pleaded not guilty to five misdemeanor charges stemming from his arrest at his in-laws’ home northeast of Seattle earlier this week.
According to documents filed by the King County prosecuting attorney’s office on Friday, the charges include two domestic violence counts — criminal trespass in the second degree and malicious mischief in the third degree — along with resisting arrest, driving while under the influence and reckless endangerment of roadway workers.
The charges are all misdemeanors, punishable by up to 90 days in jail, or gross misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year.
The 2019 NFL MVP is a unique athlete with the speed, quickness and agility to shine at any skill position on the field. The football world has already seen Lamar revolutionize the quarterback position, as the first NFL signal-caller to post back-to-back 1,000-yard rushing seasons. Considering he also boasts a 30-7 record with a 68:18 TD-to-INT ratio and 102.6 career passer rating, Jackson is clearly established as a blue-chip playmaker at the position. That said, I believe Jackson could’ve been a Pro Bowl wide receiver or defensive back if he’d opted to play one of those positions in the NFL. Video clips of the Ravens’ QB1 playing sandlot football likely make team officials cringe with fear of injury, but they showcase the tools he could use to become an explosive wide receiver or lockdown corner. In a league that covets speed and athleticism, Jackson’s five-star ability would make him a star anywhere on the field.
With most teams reporting to training camp in 11 days, additional clubs have met the player COVID-19 vaccination threshold rate, bringing freedoms once camp starts.
NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported Friday that 13 teams have crossed the 85 percent threshold for player vaccinations, per a source informed of the situation.
The teams getting to the target percentage have nearly doubled since Monday, when there were just seven. In addition, 73.8 percent of players have had at least one shot.
It’s a positive trend as clubs head towards training camp, which opens on July 27 for the majority of teams.
On the negative side, two teams remain below a 50 percent vaccination rate, per Pelissero.
The restrictions for non-vaccinated players are significant, including daily testing (even during byes), masks, limits on in-person meetings, being barred from eating in the cafeteria, etc.
In case you missed it at Arrowhead Pride
LB Dorian O’Daniel
Very little more needs to be said about Kansas City’s infamous 2018 NFL Draft. Despite a dwindling role on defense, 2018’s third-round pick Dorian O’Daniel has managed to stay on the roster.
After playing 302 defensive snaps for former defensive coordinator Bob Sutton during his rookie season, O’Daniel has had only 15 defensive snaps in two seasons under Steve Spagnuolo. But during his three years, he has racked up almost 800 special-teams snaps — and will likely play out the final season of his rookie contract in a similar role.
Unlike other players on this list, O’Daniel is not in a crowded position room; only four linebackers are ahead of him on the depth chart. But one thing that may go against him is that his salary is slightly higher at the end of his rookie deal. The Chiefs could save as much as $288,000 by cutting him and going with a cheaper back-of-the-roster player for a special-teams role.
In the grand scheme of things, $288,000 may seem minuscule, but even minor differences in cap space could matter when the team is making its final roster decisions.
A tweet to make you think
Down by 4 with 2:00 left from the 20 yard line.— PFF (@PFF) July 16, 2021
Is this AFC offense scoring
Is this NFC defense holding
❤️ AFC pic.twitter.com/mRHb8XUnqD
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