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Film review: Taylor Stallworth adds energy to the Chiefs’ defensive line

The former Colts’ defensive tackle can be an asset for the defensive line rotation in Kansas City

New York Jets v Indianapolis Colts Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Kansas City Chiefs’ offseason has followed a theme of the roster becoming younger and cheaper in the short term. That theme held true with the signing of former Indianapolis Colts defensive tackle Taylor Stallworth to a one-year deal.

Stallworth has played for the Colts and the New Orleans Saints in his four career seasons, initially entering the league as an undrafted signing by New Orleans. The 26-year-old is coming to Kansas City fresh off his most productive season in the NFL.

Here’s what to know about the newest Chiefs’ defensive lineman:

The basics

Stallworth played his college years at South Carolina, totaling 87 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, one sack and five passes defended in four seasons.

At the 2018 NFL Combine, Stallworth weighed in at 6 feet 2 and 312 pounds — with 73rd-percentile hand size but only 25th percentile in arm length and wingspan. None of his testing numbers registered as a percentile higher than the 28th and likely led to him going undrafted.

In his first three seasons, Stallworth averaged only 250 snaps — and only totaled 10 pressures in all. In 2021, he stepped up in 331 total snaps to record 22 pressures and three sacks. His playing time increased as the season progressed, indicating Stallworth was earning more and more snaps.

Film evaluation

Stallworth is an interior defensive lineman but comes on the field to get after the quarterback more than he does to help against the run.

In 2021, 76% of his snaps came from a B-gap alignment; only 10% of his snaps came in the A-gap. That signifies that Stallworth was used to penetrating from a three-technique alignment rather than taking on double teams in more of a nose-tackle position.

When he is getting after the quarterback, you notice how strong his hands are. On this sack, Stallworth slow plays the rush at first — then swiftly hammers the guard’s outside shoulder with a powerful club, knocking him to the ground on his way to sacking the quarterback.

Stallworth combines the powerful hands with a quick first step, which also translates to a pretty quick lateral step when jumping from one gap to the other. Once he’s in the process of blowing past the blocker he just beat, Stallworth seems to have a knack for getting on a beeline straight towards the quarterback. He’s very aware of his pass-rush path.

Stallworth is also cognizant of how to use the powerful hands, showing it with a smooth forklift move here — quickly lifting the lineman’s arms and ripping through in one motion.

His highlights definitely come against the pass. Against the run, he can create penetration by firing off the line — but he doesn’t have the mass or anchor to hold up consistently in the middle of a run play. He relies on leverage, but once he’s in a disadvantageous position, he really struggles to overcome.

How he fits with the Chiefs

NFL: NOV 14 Jaguars at Colts Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Stallworth joins a group of Chiefs defensive tackles that boast high-end talent and quality depth.

Joining four other players with multiple years of NFL experience, Stallworth can fight for rotational snaps behind the starters — which project to be Chris Jones and Derrick Nnadi currently.

That said, any other additions to the room could push a member of this five-man group out. Stallworth isn’t guaranteed to make the 2022 roster, so he’ll compete with players like Tershawn Wharton and Khalen Saunders to secure a spot.

The bottom line

Stallworth raises the floor of the Chiefs’ defensive tackle position. The group got deeper, with a fifth player that has some juice as a pass rusher. He’s also an ascending player, so we could see further development in his age-27 season.

He will play on the fringe of the roster, meaning there’s no guarantee he makes the team — but he has the talent to contribute in a rotation. If he becomes the odd man out eventually, it’s because the rest of the group shows to be impressive overall.

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