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Let’s Argue: The Chiefs will have a top-10 defense

Our Mark Gunnels takes on all your hot takes, wacky predictions and unpopular opinions.

NFL: FEB 15 Kansas City Chiefs Super Bowl LVII Victory Parade Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to this week's edition of Let's Argue! Let's Argue is a recurring series that looks at hot takes, unpopular opinions, wacky predictions and more from Kansas City Chiefs fans.

It won't be a repeat of last season when it comes to rookie production.

This would be a complete 180 after what the Chiefs experienced a season ago. The 2022 rookie class got significant contributions from all except Darian Kinnard and Nazeeh Johnson.

Running back Isiah Pacheco, defensive end George Karlaftis, cornerback Trent McDuffie and Skyy Moore highlighted the production.

It will be difficult to duplicate this, but that's always the goal for general manager Brett Veach. It's only May, but I think it's safe to assume rookies Felix Anudike-Uzomah and Rashee Rice will have every opportunity to showcase their abilities.

I also believe there are pathways for Chamarri Conner and Keondre Coburn to be contributors immediately.

Don't forget about Clyde Edwards-Helaire just yet.

This shouldn't be a hot take — and that's understanding that Pacheco is the No. 1 running back.

After that, it will be done by committee. Jerick McKinnon is back in the fold, but considering he is 31, it would be wise for the Chiefs to keep his load light so he's fresh when it comes time for the playoffs.

This is where Clyde Edwards-Helaire factors in.

Before his latest injury, Edwards-Helaire was very productive, not only on the ground but also in the passing game. He finished the 2022 campaign with six total touchdowns (and three receiving).

The contract year is undefeated, another reason why utilizing Edwards-Healire makes a ton of sense.

Richie James can do things for the Chiefs' offense.

This, on the other hand, qualifies as a true hot take. Are we sure Richie James makes the team?

If you look at the wide receiver room right now, there appear to be five locks. Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, Justin Watson and Rashee Rice.

The Chiefs started the 2022 season with five receivers, but it looks like they won't carry a fullback this go around, which could open the door for a sixth receiver.

When you get down to your fifth and sixth receiver, your expecting to get special teams contributions from those guys. James matches that profile.

During his time with the San Francisco 49ers and New York Giants, he took turns as the kick and punt return specialist.

Steve Spagnuolo will present a top-10 defense in 2023.

If the Chiefs' defense becomes a top-10 unit, this team may go 20-0. I'm obviously saying that tongue and cheek, but Patrick Mahomes hasn't experienced this yet.

The defense this past season was middle of the road, but it was able to make timely stops — especially in the postseason.

However, with guys like Karlaftis, McDuffie, Jaylen Watson, Leo Chenal and Joshua Williams entering their sophomore campaigns, it's fair to expect the unit only to get better.

There's no reason to believe why All-Pro defensive lineman Chris Jones won't play at a high level again this season. Then, in the middle of the defense, you have linebacker Nick Bolton, who seems more locked in than ever.

"Our defense is definitely going to be hungry," Bolton told the media this week. "We don't really get the respect that we deserve. Over the years, the three, four years I've been here, and I've been watching from Mizzou, the Chiefs defense doesn't get the recognition it deserves, myself included. So, there is a hungry aspect of it. I can tell you say that I'm hungry as ever."

The floor for this defense is middle of the pack like last season, but it has a top-10 ceiling. If it reaches that ceiling, you might as well hand the Chiefs their third Lombardi trophy in the Patrick Mahomes era.

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