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What roles on the 2022 Chiefs have improved from last season?

On Monday’s ‘Out of Structure’ podcast, we identified roles that have improved this offseason.

NFL Combine Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images

On the first episode of the offseason, Arrowhead Pride’s “Out of Structure” podcast zoomed out on the offseason and tried to look at the big picture in terms of how much better or worse the Kansas City Chiefs are at this point compared to the 2021 season.

(Listen to the podcast above or by clicking here. It is also available on Spotify.)

We looked at both offensive and defensive roles, singling out the ones we believe have gotten better — and pointing out a few that have gotten worse. We summed up our thoughts on a few here:

Starting cornerback

Trent McDuffie replacing Charvarius Ward

Ron: Cornerback is a tough position to come in and play well right away. That said, McDuffie’s strengths as a more athletic, pure coverage player can give the cornerback group a type of player they haven’t had recently. They can get more creative with coverages, knowing McDuffie can be stickier in coverage and more versatile.

Matt: The Chiefs went up and got their guy, someone they didn’t think they could get, and I think that will be an upgrade. With all the concern over the pass rush, they got a lot more pressures than sacks, indicating QBs were finding receivers open too quickly. I’m optimistic that McDuffie is a No. 1 corner you pencil in for his career, and you don’t have to worry about that position.

Specific wide receiver roles

Juju Smith-Schuster replacing Byron Pringle, Marquez Valdes-Scantling replacing Demarcus Robinson

Matt: You can consider JuJu Smith-Schuster an upgrade over Byron Pringle, they’re both physical players, great run blockers, strong hands. Also, in very similar roles, you can slot MVS in over Demarcus Robinson — deep threats that are also good blockers, you can say that MVS is a step forward as compared to what Robinson did in KC. I think there is something to be said for a room full of competent receivers that get to where they are supposed to be and don’t drop passes.

Ron: In the ways Pringle succeeded last year, Smith-Schuster plays a similar style with good athleticism at that size — but I believe he’s even more of a playmaker before and after the catch. Robinson had been cornered into a very seldom-used deep threat towards the end of his Chiefs tenure, so Valdes-Scantling projects to fill that role but give much more than just that.

MIKE and SAM linebacker

Nick Bolton replacing Anthony Hitchens, Leo Chenal replacing Nick Bolton

Ron: This linebacker group has become one of the most exciting — or even best — linebacker groups in the NFL? If you’re talking about a trio of linebackers. The addition of Chenal completes the position, and it’s because of what he can do. He was a dominant run defender in college, but he’s shown some skills that could make him a unique, change-of-pace edge rusher as that SAM linebacker.

Matt: I’m really excited to see Leo Chenal in that role. It’s a very specific spot, but knowing what you have in Bolton (MIKE) and Gay (WILL), it’s a nice upgrade. You can bring some violence with Garlaftis Karlaftis on the strong side and Chenal outside of him, and send both guys after a tackle and tight end, it won’t be fun for them, but I’m looking forward to it.

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