The Chiefs news story dominating the headlines right now is without a question the trade of Tyreek Hill. But when Chiefs Focus broke the news of the deal with Ronald Jones it took some of the sting away. However, as much as losing Chavarius Ward hurts, we’ve got the 27th ranked defense to improve on. Sure we gave up the 8th fewest points in the NFL so you can make a “bend but don’t break” argument, but it still needs to be improved.
So far, we have already added Justin Reid from the Texans. Reid brings in more youth to the secondary being only 25 years old combined with 26-year-old Juan Thornhill and 25-year-old L’Jarius Sneed. Reid recorded 2 interceptions playing in 13 games in 2021, but interceptions aren’t the only thing he brings. Reid is a Stanford alum, and even to be an athlete at Stanford, you have to be extremely intelligent. Intelligence is a trait that is vastly underrated in a football player, especially for a defensive back. He can play the run and can line up in the box well. We will likely use him similar to how we used Mathieu. He brings toughness to the team as well, also similar to what Mathieu does/did. Outside of signing Justin Reid, the Chiefs have remained silent on defense for the most part. The only other signing the Chiefs have had on defense is Deon Bush, who is likely to become a backup and primarily play on special teams.
The Chiefs have also lost a few pieces of the defense as well. did sign with the 49ers, Jarran Reed, who only played for the Chiefs for a single season, signed with the Packers, and Mike Hughes signed with the Vikings. The Chiefs also released Anthony Hitchens. Tyrann Mathieu remains unsigned, and it’s looking like him coming back is possible. Melvin Ingram is also unsigned still as well so him coming back is a possibility as well. With Frank Clark and Joe Thuney’s restructures, that has saved some cap room. Trading Tyreek Hill and him signing a new contract also freed up cap space as well.
This is all that they have done so far, but the question is, what else can they do? Trae Waynes was recently released by the Bengals, Stephon Gilmore, Calais Campbell, Jason Pierre-Paul, Akeim Hicks, Joe Haden, Jerry Hughes, Chris Harris, Carl Nassib, Patrick Peterson, among many many others are still available in free agency as well. Edge rusher is definitely an important need. If we can resign Melvin Ingram, he’ll do fine, but if we can’t, we’ll need a free agent pick up. An old friend is still a free agent, Justin Houston. If we’re looking for youthful edge rushers, the selection is rather limited at this point. Solomon Thomas was a highly touted prospect coming into the draft but has had a pretty unremarkable career so far. Our new defensive line coach is a heck of a defensive line coach so maybe with the right coach, he meets the potential he had coming into the draft. Tak McKinley is similar to Thomas in the sense that he was underperformed expectations, however, he’s dealt with some injuries. He failed physicals with a couple of different teams after his release from the Falcons.
Thanks to the Tyreek Hill trade, the Chiefs now hold the 29th and 30th overall selections in the draft. If they decide to keep these picks, they could draft an edge with one selection and a receiver with the other. Barring one of the top-rated edge rushers slipping, edge rushers available could include Boye Mafe from Minnesota or Arnold Ebiketie from Penn State, but both of these players could be available in the 2nd round. So do they sign their receiver and trade up for David Ojabo of Michigan or Travon Walker of Georgia? Do they trade up from 50 and 62 into a higher 2nd round selection and draft Mafe or Ebiketie and keep their first-round selections?
What I personally predict will happen is we wind up resigning Mathieu and Ingram, Mathieu to a 1 or 2-year deal, and Ingram to a more long-term deal with a team-friendly cap hit for 2022. After that, we use our 29th, 30th, 50th, and 62nd overall selections to draft a receiver, a cornerback, a linebacker who can start day one, and an interior defensive lineman. The exact order will depend on who’s available at those selections. Since we have 12 selections, I wouldn’t rule out doing some trade-ups to get higher selections. Brett Veach is a great talent evaluator. He’ll find the right fits.
The rest of the division has made these big changes and we have been pretty quiet. Some fans have criticized Veach for this. When it comes down to it, he has a plan. So let’s take a minute, breathe, and watch Veach work his magic. While Tyreek is gone, he’s going to turn this into addition by subtraction. We’ve got a large amount of cap space now and plenty of draft capital. Let him work.