LG: Joe Thuney, Kansas City Chiefs
Joe Thuney has been a stalwart of consistency throughout his career, and he has elevated his game to new heights since arriving in Kansas City in 2021. Last season, Thuney was instrumental in keeping Mahomes upright, allowing only one sack and 15 total pressures. That kind of consistency up front makes it easy for a freelancer like Mahomes to create big-play opportunities.
C: Creed Humphrey, Kansas City Chiefs
Creed Humphrey is the most consistently dominant young center in this league. Full stop. Humphrey is a complete mauler as a run-blocker, producing an elite 91.1 run-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus, and a stonewall in pass protection, where he didn’t allow a single sack last season, with just one surrendered through the first two seasons of his career. Maybe more impressive than the fact that Humphrey allowed just 21, quarterback hits is that he was flagged for only 4 penalties in 1,138 snaps in 2022. Humphrey is an ascending talent and perhaps next in line to be a permanent All-Pro fixture.
Interior defender Chris Jones is one of the best defensive players in the entire league and has earned a top-10 PFF grade in each of the last six seasons, including a league-leading 92.3 grade last year.
However, there are way too many question marks on the defensive line around him to place the Chiefs any higher. While free agent addition Charles Omenihu has a chance to be an upgrade from Frank Clark at edge defender, he has yet to play more than 660 snaps in a season in his career.
By winning his second Super Bowl and winning another MVP, he is putting himself in the conversation with the all-time greats. And he’s still young at 27.
6. Travis Kelce
He caught 110 passes with 12 touchdown catches to solidify his position as the top tight end and one of the best weapons in the league. Can he be covered with one man? No way.
On Friday, NFL Insider Michael Lombardi was on The Pat McAfee show and made a rather surprising claim that it was not Leslie Frazier but in fact, it was Sean McDermott who called the defense on that final drive.
“”13 seconds in Kansas City, [Sean] McDermott took over the play calls on that drive that ended in a field goal. That did not sit well with Leslie Frazier. The next year he kept calling the defense. This year Sean McDermott wanted to call the defense and Leslie for whatever reason said no.””
Original pick (by Baltimore via trade): Odafe Oweh, Edge, Penn State
One also could make the case here for Christian Barmore, but I’m going with Odighizuwa as my DT1 in the 2021 do-over. His 38 pressures last season ranked top 15 across all NFL defensive tackles. He’s been a steady hand for Dallas since he showed up and can provide disruptive value to the defense on any down or in any situation. He’s an ex-star wrestler with 34-inch arms. What’s not to like?
Around the NFL
It never seems like a team “volunteers” to be on the series. So the league set guidelines around the eligibility for teams to essentially be forced to participate. Here are the requirements not to be on the show:
Teams with a first-year head coach.
Teams that have secured a playoff berth in the past two seasons.
Teams that have appeared on “Hard Knocks” within the past 10 years.
One prospect, Purdue wide receiver Milton Wright, has been confirmed to teams as eligible as of now.
The original supplemental draft, held in 1977, was created to serve prospects who were not eligible for the annual spring draft for various reasons.
The last player picked in a supplemental draft was safety Jalen Thompson, who was selected with a fifth-round pick by the Arizona Cardinals. He was the only selection that year. Thompson has been a starter for the Cardinals since his rookie year, recording 110 tackles last season.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
So in 2022, the Chiefs were smarter about using Jones that way. They aligned him outside when he had an effective matchup against a weaker tackle — in in those situations, he played well. Jones also refined his game, adding more countermoves and utilizing his hand quickness and length. That made him more effective at a position he loves to play.
We should expect that in certain situations during the 2023 season, Kansas City will continue to align Jones to the outside. With the addition of defensive lineman Charles Omenihu — who can be effective on the inside — the Chiefs will also gain flexibility in their matchups. That is always important in big playoff games.