2022 Yardage Ranking: 11th
2022 Points-Allowed Ranking: 16th
Key Additions: Edge Charles Omenihu, S Mike Edwards, LB Drue Tranquill, Edge Felix Anudike-Uzomah
Key Losses: S Juan Thornhill, DT Khalen Saunders, Edge Frank Clark
The Chiefs defense is far from perfect, but it perfectly complements Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City’s high-powered offense.
The strength of the Kansas City defense is the pass rush, led by Chris Jones and George Karlaftis. The Chiefs replace Frank Clark with Charles Omenihu in free agency and added Felix Anudike-Uzomah to the mix on the draft’s opening night.
As long as Mahomes and Co. can keep opponents in passing mode, the defense can generate enough disruption to be functional. The problem is that Kansas City isn’t particularly stout against the run and ranked a modest 15th in yards per carry allowed (4.4) last season.
The Chiefs also didn’t do quite enough to generate turnovers (minus-3 in turnover differential) and were simply awful in the red zone. Only the Colts allowed a higher touchdown rate than Kansas City’s (67.3 percent) in 2022.
The Chiefs’ goal is to get an early lead and allow the defense to pin its ears back, a tactic the Colts used during the prime years of Peyton Manning. It’s a strategy that has gotten Kansas City to three Super Bowls and five consecutive AFC title games since Mahomes became the starter.
Make no mistake, though, the Chiefs defense is more good than great.
Kansas City Chiefs
They’ve earned the benefit of the doubt with their roster moves.
The Chiefs’ success has been because of their offense—so much so that in the offseason, their leading wide receiver (JuJu Smith-Schuster) and both starting tackles (Orlando Brown Jr. and Andrew Wylie) from their Super Bowl championship team left in free agency, and no one seems to care. There’s a reason Patrick Mahomes is Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid is Andy Reid. That quarterback-coach pairing alone will usually be enough to make up for other deficiencies on the roster.
Kansas City is taking a “We’ll figure it out” approach on the offensive line. The Chiefs gave right tackle Jawaan Taylor a four-year, $80 million deal in free agency and could ask him to move to the left side. They also signed veteran left tackle Donovan Smith to a one-year deal. They could call on third-year player Lucas Niang to start. Or the Chiefs could throw third-round pick Wanya Morris into the mix.
If this were another team, it’d be fair to question the O-line shuffle. But with the Chiefs, you just trust that their dart throws will work out.
At wide receiver, the projected starters are Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Skyy Moore. It’s not the most reliable group, but tight end Travis Kelce will continue to be their top option in the passing game, and Mahomes will make the other receivers look good.
Bottom line: With Mahomes and Reid, the Chiefs will almost certainly produce a top-five offense. And the defending champs are once again the team to beat.
Patrick Mahomes (+650 at FOX Bet) — Kansas City Chiefs
Mahomes is the current favorite at FOX Bet to win next year’s MVP, and that’s understandable because is there anything Mahomes can’t do? So far, it looks like the answer is no.
K.C.’s leading man has won two Super Bowls in four years, is a two-time Super Bowl MVP and two-time regular season MVP. And that’s barely scratching the surface of his long list of accomplishments since he became the Chiefs starting QB in 2017.
The Chiefs also added WR Rashee Rice in the draft, giving the star signal caller another weapon.
Betting on Mahomes to run it back next year sounds like a solid proposition.
Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes’ group workouts in Texas loomed large in the Chiefs’ evaluation of draft-eligible wideouts. Details are scarce, but apparently Mahomes, during his workouts with current NFL players, invited draft prospects to come by, too. So many players came in and out that even the Chiefs might have had a hard time keeping track. First-round picks Zay Flowers and Quentin Johnston made it, and both were gone by the time the Chiefs picked 31st overall. But SMU’s Rashee Rice also attended, and word is he formed a nice connection with Mahomes. Credit to these receivers for getting to Mahomes — in some cases on their own dime, in a setting not sanctioned by NFL teams — to make an impression (and, in Rice’s case, gaining the coveted Mahomes stamp of approval).
This the dumbest shit ever said excuse my language https://t.co/ZgW2wmr37G— Mecole Hardman Jr. (@MecoleHardman4) May 8, 2023
1. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Biggest impact player from the draft: EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah
Pre-Draft Ranking: 1
The Chiefs released Frank Clark and lost starting offensive tackles Orlando Brown Jr. and Andrew Wylie in free agency. However, their signings of tackle Jawaan Taylor and edge defender Charles Omenihu mitigate those departures.
The Chiefs had a solid draft, adding an elite edge defender and other targets for quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Anudike-Uzomah produced PFF grades of 74.0 or better in each of his past two seasons, and 21 of his 89 pressures over the past two seasons resulted in a sack.
66 - Frank Clark
Edge · Age: 30
Clark played a lot for the Chiefs — perhaps too much. That helped him rack up more than 50 pressures in each of the last two years, but he’d be better used as a rotational pass rusher at this stage in his career.
Around the NFL
Impactful rookies: WR Quentin Johnston, LB Daiyan Henley, EDGE Tuli Tuipulotu, WR Derius Davis
Johnston is the YAC weapon the Chargers needed offensively. And to not ask him to be the de facto No. 1 out of the gate will work wonders for his development and allow him to work at optimal efficiency as a rookie. Henley was one of the older prospects at the linebacker spot in the 2023 class, and he plays with knowledge that only comes with more time on the field. Super intelligent diagnosing play designs, and he’s a blur in coverage.
Tuipulotu is a flexible inside-out rusher with karate-master hand work and adequate power. Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack could use another capable rusher to take some attention away from them, or at least the Chargers defense would benefit from someone taking advantage of all the offensive-line attention Bosa and Mack get every week. Davis’ ridiculous feet and return ability make him feel like a rookie who’ll hit some splash plays in Year 1 in the NFL.
Texans owner Cal McNair said Monday that neither he nor his wife Hannah forced his team’s front office to draft Ohio State quarterback C.J. Stroud.
“Hannah and I don’t make the picks. We’ll make it clear there,” McNair said during the 20th Annual Houston Texans Charity Golf Classic. “We have a great group of scouts led by Nick [Caserio] and James Lippert, and they did a lot of work on the draft board, and then they followed that on draft day, and they moved up when they saw the value was there and moved back.”
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
The Chiefs signed offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor in March. Team messaging had suggested that the club would move him to the left side after playing right tackle for Jacksonville Jaguars over the last four seasons. Would Smith and Taylor swap positions in Kansas City?
In short... no.
Head coach Andy Reid put the debate to rest following the final session of rookie minicamp on Monday.
“He’s been a left tackle at a high level,” said Reid of Smith. “Last year (2022), he was hurt. The year before that (2021), he was one of the top-graded left tackles in the league, and we’ve had a chance to play against him a couple of times. I’ve seen him firsthand there. Good football player.”
Reid was asked directly if Smith would be the first-team left tackle at the start of organized team activities (OTAs) later this month.
“He’ll be [on] the left side, yes,” said Reid, “probably with the ones... we would move [Taylor] over to the right.”
A tweet to make you think
And 2023 NFL International Games schedule announcement coming Wednesday at 7am ET/12pm UK time/1pm Germany. https://t.co/GEYT85HnJj— Henry Hodgson (@nflukhank) May 8, 2023