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Arrowhead Pride Bye Week Awards: Most Improved Player

The fourth-year defensive tackle is having his best season to date.

There are seven games in the books — and 10 more to go. While we may not be right at the halfway mark of the 2021 regular season, the Kansas City Chiefs are taking their bye week in Week 8, so it's a good time to dish out some midseason awards.

The Arrowhead Pride writing staff members each had one vote for our seven midseason awards. There are 11 contributors, so there will be 11 votes tallied for each award. In this post, we'll reveal our most improved player to this point of the season.


DT KHALEN SAUNDERS

Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images

VOTING: DT Khalen Saunders (5), LB Darius Harris (2), S Juan Thornhill (2), CB L'Jarius Sneed (1), P Tommy Townsend (1)

At the beginning of training camp, there was a fair amount of speculation that Khalen Saunders might be a roster casualty. The Kansas City Chiefs brought back defensive tackle Derek Nnadi and signed Taylor Stallworth and Danny Shelton as competition as well.

Additionally, having Chris Jones paying full-time on the inside again created a scenario in which Saunders could be the odd man out. After a strong preseason performance, Saunders made the roster. Now, seven games into the season, it's easy to say Saunders is the second-best interior lineman the Chiefs have.

As a person, it's hard not to love Saunders.

His personality is as big as his physical stature. He brings tremendous energy to the team and has always had a great sense of humor about himself on social media.

When it comes to Saunders, the athleticism has always popped every now and then. The larger issue for him in past seasons had been consistency and health. This season, he's been able to consistently make impact plays in the run, fighting off double teams while remaining gap-sound.

Another element that Saunders has added this season is his ability to get to the ball carrier and finish the tackle — a spot where many Chiefs defensive linemen have struggled in the past.

The Chiefs getting long-term development out of later-round players such as Saunders has been crucial to their defensive success. It's also great to see his development progress over the years.

Player development is a huge edge in roster construction — and if the Chiefs can continue to improve their own talent on their roster, the future will remain bright for the Chiefs' defense.

Poll

Who is your most improved player so far?

This poll is closed

  • 43%
    Khalen Saunders
    (487 votes)
  • 22%
    Darius Harris
    (256 votes)
  • 12%
    Juan Thornhill
    (143 votes)
  • 9%
    L’Jarius Sneed
    (112 votes)
  • 8%
    Tommy Townsend
    (92 votes)
  • 3%
    Someone else
    (38 votes)
1128 votes total Vote Now

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