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Arrowheadlines: Chiefs had the 4th best rookie class according to analyst

Chiefs headlines for Friday, February 24

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NFL: AFC Championship-Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The latest

2022 NFL rookie grades: Ranking the classes, 1 to 32 |

4 - Kansas City Chiefs

Class grade: B+

Round 1:

(No. 21) Trent McDuffie, CB, 11 games/11 starts

(30) George Karlaftis, DE, 17 games/17 starts

Round 2:

(54) Skyy Moore, WR, 16 games/3 starts

(62) Bryan Cook, S, 16 games/1 start

Round 3:

(103) Leo Chenal, LB, 17 games/8 starts

Round 4:

(135) Joshua Williams, CB, 17 games/4 starts

Round 5:

(145) Darian Kinnard, OG, 1 game/0 starts

Round 7:

(243) Jaylen Watson, CB, 16 games/6 starts

(251) Isiah Pacheco, RB, 17 games/11 starts

(259) Nazeeh Johnson, CB, 11 games/0 starts

EDHOLM: It’s rare to see a Super Bowl champion be so rookie-dependent, but Kansas City identified its depth issues last offseason and showered the defense with draftees — especially in the secondary, with five selections, including four who contributed in major ways in Year 1. Trent McDuffie, Jaylen Watson, Joshua Williams and Bryan Cook all cracked the rotation this season, and each of them played at least 10 snaps on defense in Super Bowl LVII. They all endured some rough patches, but each contributed something significant along the way. Even with some potential veteran DB departures this offseason, the future of the Chiefs’ secondary appears to be bright thanks to this crew.

Defensive end George Karlaftis started all season, but really made his impact down the stretch, with 5.5 of his six sacks, seven of his eight tackles for loss and both of his fumble recoveries coming in the final seven regular-season games. After some humbling snaps early on, Karlaftis started to show his true impact potential.

Isiah Pacheco was one of the 2022 NFL Draft’s great finds, coming off the board in the back end of the seventh round. Despite some issues taking care of the football, the hard-charging back was a revelation in Year 1, supplanting former first-rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire as K.C.’s lead back and averaging 5.0 yards per carry from Week 7 (his first start) through the Super Bowl. Skyy Moore also experienced ball-security problems — muffing three punts as a returner — but he was still able to carve out a role of 25-to-30 snaps on offense and special teams. And he actually provided a massive 29-yard punt return with under a minute left in the AFC Championship Game, helping set up Harrison Butker’s game-winning field goal.

Kansas City Chiefs’ Guard Trey Smith Says Urban Meyer, Jacksonville Jaguars Wanted To Sign Him as an UDFA | Sports Illustrated

As Smith tells it, though, there is a chance he could have been a Jacksonville Jaguar had the Chiefs not stepped in at the final hour.

“I get a call. Ring, ring, it’s Urban Meyer from the Jaguars,” Smith said on the Trey Wallace Podcast. “He’s like ‘Okay, we’re going to take you as an undrafted free agent guy. We’re going to fly you and your dad in tomorrow.

“That was really cool because I had a really good relationship with him when he was at Ohio State. So I was thinking in mind, ‘Boom, free agent, I’m going to Jacksonville.’ It is what it is. Can’t cry, can’t complain.”

Smith, obviously, wouldn’t last to undrafted free agency. Instead, he ended up with the Chiefs and the rest is history. He has started the last two seasons at right guard, including starting in the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LVII win over the Philadelphia Eagles.

Eagles safety fined for hit on Chiefs player in Super Bowl | The Kansas City Star

That hit only kept Pacheco out for one play before he gouged the Eagles for a 10-yard gain on a third-and-1 play.

But the tackle proved costly for Gardner-Johnson. Although no penalty flag was thrown,

Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network reported Gardner-Johnson was fined $14,111 “for lowering the head to initiate contact with the helmet.” Pelissero said Gardner-Johnson intends to appeal.

Gardner-Johnson wrote on Twitter that he was baffled by the league’s fine.

2023 NFL free agency rankings: The 100 best free agents, from Lamar Jackson to Saquon Barkley and more | CBS Sports

7 - Orlando Brown


He’s been consistently a good player at left tackle. He played on the franchise tag last season, so it will be interesting to see what the Chiefs do. He turns 27 in May, so he is in his prime, but how do you pay good but not great? Tag him again?

Dream Offseason Trade Scenario for Every NFL Team | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors | Bleacher Report

Kansas City Chiefs Trade Frank Clark

The Kansas City Chiefs are currently projected to have less than $1 million in cap space and have several key impending free agents, including wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster, running back Jerick McKinnon and offensive tackle Orlando Brown Jr. According to The Athletic’s Nate Taylor, they’re expected to franchise-tag Brown for the second straight offseason.

To do so, the Chiefs need to clear cap space. They could save $21.1 million off the cap by releasing or trading veteran pass-rusher Frank Clark.

While Clark was a valuable piece of the Super Bowl puzzle in 2022, the Chiefs are well-positioned to replace him. They drafted pass-rusher George Karlaftis in the first round of the 2022 draft, and 5.5 of his six sacks came in the final seven games of the regular season.

Clark logged five sacks and 24 quarterback pressures this past season, so Kansas City might be able to get a third- or fourth-round pick for him in a trade.

While a middle-round pick might not be viewed as a premium selection, it could be valuable to the Chiefs. General manager Brett Veach plucked key contributors like cornerback Jaylen Watson and running back Isiah Pacheco toward the end of Day 3 in last year’s draft.

Trading Clark would free up valuable cap space while providing Veach with another dart or two to throw at the 2023 draft.

The Chiefs Didn’t Need Analytics To Win Another Championship | FiveThirtyEight

In 2021, ESPN surveyed analytics staffers across the NFL and, when asked to name the top five teams in analytics, the Chiefs did not receive a single vote (16 teams did). To be fair, no one named them the least-analytically savvy team, either, but what analytics professional would want to name a perennial Super Bowl favorite like the Chiefs an analytically inept team?

They’d basically be admitting that it’s not enough to master all the little things, like the Eagles generally do and did (for the most part) during the Super Bowl. That it simply does not matter that the Chiefs are doing those things wrong in the eyes of the numbers. Because the big things in Kansas City, the playmaking genius of Mahomes and the offensive innovation of Reid, will always be right.

Chiefs 2023 mock draft: Emphasis on adding linemen before swings at safety, WR | The Athletic

Round 1 (pick No. 31): BJ Ojulari, Edge, LSU

Such a selection should make most Chiefs fans happy. The Chiefs can continue to build their defense by acquiring another young pass rusher to pair with George Karlaftis, who was the 30th pick in last year’s draft. Selecting Ojulari could benefit the Chiefs in the second half of the season if defensive end Carlos Dunlap, a 14-year veteran, doesn’t return for next season.

Last season, Ojulari ranked second in the SEC in pressures per game (4.75), and in 11 games, he recorded 5 1/2 sacks, 8 1/2 tackles for loss and one forced fumble. With Ojulari, the Chiefs could have a pass-rush rotation that includes star defensive tackle Chris Jones, Karlaftis and defensive ends Mike Danna and possibly Frank Clark as well if the nine-year veteran returns with a new contract that helps the team create salary-cap space.

Around the NFL

Lamar Jackson, the Baltimore Ravens and an awkward year in limbo | ESPN

Jackson — who has vowed not to speak publicly about his contract since the start of the 2022 regular season — wants a fully guaranteed deal in line with the five-year, $230 million contract the Cleveland Browns gave Deshaun Watson in March. The Ravens, meanwhile, are balking at guaranteeing the full amount, according to team sources. Jackson turned down a five-year, $250 million contract in September that included $133 million guaranteed — far less than Watson’s deal, but more than the guaranteed figures awarded to Russell Wilson ($124 million) and Kyler Murray ($103.3 million) last offseason.

According to a source with knowledge of Jackson’s contract negotiations, all of his counteroffers to the Ravens last year were for fully guaranteed contracts that exceeded that of Watson, who signed his deal with the Browns after being traded from the Houston Texans and before serving an 11-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy by committing sexual assault, as defined by the league, on massage therapists.

Former head coach Vance Joseph returns to Broncos as defensive coordinator |

The Denver Broncos are hiring Joseph as their defensive coordinator under new head coach Sean Payton, Good Morning Football’s Peter Schrager reported Thursday, per a source informed of the decision.

Joseph spent two seasons as the Broncos head coach from 2017-18, compiling an 11-21 record before being fired. He had been in Arizona as the Cardinals’ defensive coordinator for the past four seasons.

A seasoned coordinator, Joseph was highly sought-after as a DC during the coaching cycle, conducting a lengthy interview Tuesday with the Philadelphia Eagles.

In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride

How the Chiefs should address offensive tackles Orlando Brown Jr. and Andrew Wylie this season

Right tackle Andrew Wylie

In the Super Bowl, Wylie played the game of his life, capping a career year in which he started every game — and made tremendous strides. He did so under a one-year Veteran Salary Benefit (VSB) contract that paid him $2.5 million, but cost the Chiefs less than $1.2 million against the salary cap. This made him one of the league’s best values.

Before the season, bringing the versatile offensive lineman back on an inexpensive deal would have been a no-brainer. That, however, may no longer be possible. According to Spotrac, the five-year veteran — now 28 years old — should be worth aroound $4.7 million per year.

While this would be an incredible payday for the former undrafted free agent, it likely would not be in the team’s best interest. Wylie is well-liked in the locker room and has earned the trust of the coaching staff — but if we’re being honest, the team does not need him.

Given his ascending play, experience in big games and veteran leadership, it is likely that another team could pay him more than Kansas City can. He will probably play for another team in 2023.

A tweet to make you think

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