clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Arrowheadlines: Some are overlooking the Chiefs’ young defensive players

Chiefs headlines for Tuesday, July 12

NFL: JUN 02 Kansas City Chiefs OTA Offseason Workouts Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The latest

State of the 2022 Kansas City Chiefs: Even without Tyreek Hill, it’s title or bust for Patrick Mahomes | NFL.com

One storyline ...

... people are overlooking: The infusion of youth on defense. I hesitate to say the unit got better because Tyrann Mathieu left for New Orleans. So let’s not get crazy. But Veach spent four of Kansas City’s first five draft picks on defense, nabbing CB Trent McDuffie and DE George Karlaftis in Round 1. Steve Spagnuolo’s group has been good over the past three seasons, ranking top 10 in scoring D each year. But Kansas City finished bottom five in sacks last year. That’s where Karlaftis could be a factor. Drafted 30th overall, the powerful edge rusher was a force of nature at Purdue. In fact, he recorded 36 quarterback hits from 2019 through 2021, the highest total in the Power 5, per Pro Football Focus. And McDuffie, who came off the board at No. 21 overall, provides a versatile coverage skill set that is sure to boost K.C.’s 27th-ranked pass defense.

Free-Agent Contracts Chiefs Must Consider Before Training Camp | Bleacher Report

Julio Jones, WR

Smith-Schuster and Valdes-Scantling are high-potential wide receivers who could potentially put up career-best numbers while catching passes from quarterback Patrick Mahomes during their first season in Kansas City. Plus, the Chiefs have rookie Skyy Moore, a second-round draft pick who could quickly make an impact in the NFL.

But there’s quite a bit more uncertainty surrounding Kansas City’s receiving corps than when Hill was atop the depth chart. Tight end Travis Kelce will continue to be one of Mahomes’ favorite (and best) targets, but the Chiefs may not have any top-tier playmakers on the outside, especially if Smith-Schuster doesn’t have a bounce-back year.

So why not take a chance on Julio Jones, who was once among the NFL’s top wide receivers? The 33-year-old didn’t make much of an impact in his lone season with the Tennessee Titans in 2021, recording 31 catches for 434 yards and one touchdown in 10 games. But he may still have some left in the tank, which he’ll be looking to prove in 2022.

There seems like no better way to potentially get Jones back on track than to pair him with an elite quarterback like Mahomes. And at this point, Kansas City could potentially sign Jones at a low price. It’s a low-risk, high-reward chance the Chiefs should be willing to take.

Ranking NFL’s top 5 rookie cornerbacks of 2022 by expected production: First-round picks will flourish | CBS Sports

5. Trent McDuffie, Chiefs

The Chiefs were 23rd in Football Outsiders pass defense DVOA in 2021 and lost Tyrann Mathieu and underrated outside corner Charvarius Ward in free agency. They know the secondary needed vast renovations and spent five picked on defensive backs in April.

McDuffie was the first, and he was selected after Kansas City traded up in Round 1 to get him. The Chiefs defensive backfield reconstruction revolves around McDuffie playing a versatile, inside-out role in Steve Spagnuolo’s defense. He can be penciled in as the full-time nickel corner because of his size and feather-light feet, but the former Washington star primarily played on the perimeter in college.

Mostly deployed in zone, McDuffie will have more man duties in Kansas City. Regardless of the type of coverage, McDuffie will be relied upon to be a major contributor in Year 1, and because of assignment-sound play, high-caliber athleticism, and extensive experience in college, he’ll immediately be a core defender on the Chiefs.

Ranking the NFL’s top 10 quarterbacks for 2022: Execs, coaches, players make their picks for the best passers | ESPN

2. Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs

Highest ranking: 1 | Lowest ranking: 5

Age: 26 | Last year’s ranking: 1

“I’m not worried about Patrick,” an NFC exec said. “He’s proven himself. When you have an elite quarterback, you can lose pieces around you and still make it work. [Hill] is just a receiver.”

Mahomes has averaged nearly 300 passing yards per game since 2019, good for second overall, and his 101 passing touchdowns during that span ranks third. But he also struggled at times in 2021. Early in the year, defenses dropped into coverage and forced Mahomes to stay patient with checkdowns and handoffs. After four straight seasons of 8-plus yards per attempt, Mahomes averaged just 7.4 per attempt in 2021. And his air yards per attempt fell from 8.2 in 2020 to 7.0 in 2021. Patience isn’t always his game.

“He’s had to evolve in that way, and I think long term it will be good for him,” a separate NFC exec said. “There did appear to be a hangover from the Super Bowl, and [the Buccaneers] showed you can get pressure on [the Chiefs] and make things difficult for him, make him scramble around and cover the deep ball. He doesn’t always want to check it down. But he’s good enough to overcome all of that and just has a special ability to make plays.”

Way-Too-Early 2023 NFL Mock Draft | Bleacher Report

30. Kansas City Chiefs: OT Blake Freeland, BYU

The Kansas City Chiefs have poured resources into their offensive line since watching Patrick Mahomes run for his life at Super Bowl LV.

They made a big trade for Orlando Brown Jr., signed Joe Thuney and used a second-round pick on Creed Humphrey. That selection might have been the most valuable as Humphrey has played at an elite level and will be on his rookie contract for three more years.

If the Chiefs are going to protect Mahomes for the foreseeable future and still be able to afford some veterans to help them contend, they will have to continue to draft offensive linemen.

That means the eventual replacement for Lucas Niang at right tackle should be found through the draft.

Picking up 6’8”, 305-pounder Blake Freeland could be the solution. The senior has experience on both the right and left side, so if the Chiefs can’t come to a long-term agreement with Brown, he would be a candidate to play on the blind side.

More likely is the scenario in which Freeland goes back to the right. Either way, he’s an elite pass-blocker. He only gave up five pressures all of last season, per PFF.

Around the NFL

Steelers’ home field renamed Acrisure Stadium | NFL.com

The Steelers announced Monday the new name of their home field will be Acrisure Stadium, ending a 21-year run as Heinz Field. The naming rights deal is set for the next 15 years.

“We are excited to partner with Acrisure for the naming rights to our stadium,” said Steelers president Art Rooney II, via the team’s website. “Acrisure provided us with an opportunity to ensure our stadium continues to be a valuable asset for our fans as well as keeping up with the market value of NFL stadiums. We are very appreciative to partner with Greg Williams and his company, and we look forward to a long, beneficial relationship for years to come.”

Acrisure is a global insurance broker based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Providing AI-driven solutions across insurance, real estate, cyber services and asset management to its clients, Acrisure has grown into a multi-billion dollar company over the past eight years.

Officials say former Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears running back Marion Barber III died of heat stroke | ESPN

Former Dallas Cowboys and Chicago Bears running back Marion Barber III died of heat stroke, police said Monday.

In a statement, police in the Dallas suburb of Frisco said the Collin County medical examiner had ruled Barber’s death an accident. A police spokesman provided no further elaboration on the circumstances of the 38-year-old’s death, and the medical examiner’s office did not immediately respond to a message from The Associated Press.

Police making a welfare check on June 1 found Barber dead at a Frisco apartment that he was believed to have been leasing.

In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride

Let’s Argue: the Chiefs will win Super Bowl LVII

The Chiefs will overpay Orlando Brown Jr.

When you have the best quarterback in the world, the No. 1 priority is keeping him clean in the pocket. And last season, the Chiefs’ Pro Bowl left tackle did exactly that.

Now, Kansas City looking to lock in a new contract with Brown before this Friday’s deadline. Considering that the Chiefs gave up a first-round pick to acquire him in the first place, I find it hard to believe they’re not extremely motivated to get a deal done.

To me, overpaying for Brown isn’t a thing, because we know he won’t get Trent Williams money. But you’re still probably looking at a deal in the range of $22-23 million per year — and for a top 10 left tackle who’s only 26 years old, you do that every single time.

For the Chiefs, protecting Patrick Mahomes’ blind side is the most important thing.

A tweet to make you think

Follow Arrowhead Pride on Social Media