3 Positions The Chiefs Need To Address In 2023
The NFL enters the final month of the regular season in Week 15 and the league is beginning to get a clear look at the playoff picture. This also coincides with the end of college football’s regular season, which makes it the perfect time to look ahead at the 2023 NFL Draft.
The Kansas City Chiefs are 10-3 with the opportunity to win their 7th consecutive AFC West title while also fighting for the top AFC playoff seed. While success has flooded into Kansas City over the past few years, a general manager’s work is never done. There are always issues that Chiefs GM Brett Veach will need to address in the 2023 NFL Draft or via free agency.
Looking to load up for another Super Bowl run in 2023, here are the three units I believe Veach needs to prioritize.
1. Defensive Line
While the defensive line is arguably the Chiefs’ biggest strength, SACK NATION isn’t gonna stay any younger. Key stars like Chris Jones and Frank Clark are both going well into their 30’s in 1-2 seasons. Not to mention, Carlos Dunlap, the team’s oldest starter up front, is quickly approaching the end of his one-year deal.
The Chiefs could really benefit from an infusion of young pass-rushing talent both on the edge and the interior. It would allow the team to transition to a new era down the road without losing its identity as one of the most dominant units in all of football. Plus, adding some young talent on the line working with DL coach Joe Cullen could allow the Chiefs to manage their aging stars’ workloads.
Don’t be surprised to see Chiefs target a pass-rusher like Kansas State’s Felix Anudike-Uzomah or Notre Dame’s Isaiah Foskey in the later Round 1. The team could also target guys like Saints’ Marcus Davenport, 49ers’ Charles Omenihu (Chiefs Top 30 pre-draft visitor in 2019) or trade for Joe Cullen’s guy, Jaguars’ Josh Allen.
While this unit has been phenomenal, it is time to begin drafting predecessors who can become apprentices to the veterans.
2. Free Safety
The Chiefs have two talented safeties in Justin Reid and Juan Thornhill. But Thornhill will be a free agent in 2023 and has had some ups and downs this year. The trio including rookie Bryan Cook combined have allowed just 200 yards total per game. This is 67 yards less than what Thornhill, Mathieu and Sorensen allowed last season in their first 13 games combined (267 ypg).
The only weakness with the group is a lack of creating turnovers. Last year’s unit created 6 picks in 2021 only allowed just 5 TDs (Dirty Dan allowed the majority of them with 4 allowed). This unit only has 1 pick in 2022 allowing 8 TDs. Most defensive coordinators still subscribe to the theory that elite defenses are strong down the middle. Thus, teams are constantly searching for an impact “MOF” (middle of the field) playmaker to discourage throws between the numbers.
Ball skills, instincts and solid tackling ability are required for this critical role in the back end. With Thornhill and Deon Bush potentially leaving, Cook would be the only other safety besides Reid on the roster in 2022. While Cook has shown a lot of potential, he is still unproven. Spending a Day 2 pick on a playmaker at free safety like Notre Dame’s Brandon Joseph or Alabama’s Jordan Battle makes a ton of sense.
Free agent options are Bills’ Jordan Poyer or Bengals’ Jessie Bates. While a signing of one of these two is very unlikely, they are still players to watch. A young safety with the ability to use his range outside the numbers and shows the ability to mirror good tight ends would be a great benefit for our improving defense. The right safety would make a great unit with the rest of Kansas City’s young secondary.
3. Right Tackle
Nothing showcased the value of an elite offensive line better than the Chiefs’ revamped line since their loss to the Bucs in Super Bowl LV. The Kansas City Chiefs’ O-Line went from a patchwork O-Line that got decimated by Tampa Bay’s fearsome pass-rush to one of the best units in the league. Stars like Trey Smith, Creed Humphrey and Orlando Brown have kept Patrick Mahomes clean since that disastrous Super Bowl. Even if this unit is one of the best in the league, it could stand to add some depth at the right tackle position this offseason.
The Chiefs may be in the market for a tackle on both sides depending on whether or not the team extends Orlando Brown. Nonetheless, it is time for the team to move on from Andrew Wylie. While Wylie has been a serviceable enough starter, he has allowed 7 sacks, the most among all right tackles via PFF.
Wylie is a free agent in 2023 so it only makes sense to move on. While the Chiefs may already have Wylie’s predecessor on the roster, adding depth to fill that role is a must. Lucas Niang is a rock-solid backup and Prince Tega Wanogho looks promising. However, you can never have enough depth at OL.
Adding someone like Ohio State’s Dawand Jones or Tennessee’s Darnell Wright (Trey Smith’s college teammate) could really help this team. If no tackle is selected in the Draft, 49ers’ Mike McGlinchey and Browns’ Jack Conklin are options to consider. Picking a left tackle of the future is a consideration as well, but with Brown just allowing 3 sacks (9th-fewest sacks allowed among all left tackles in 2022), the Chiefs are probably better off spending resources to go all-in with him.
There are obviously other areas that need addressed. However, I feel that these are the most critical given the scenarios. While Kansas City is set to make a deep playoff push this year, it is never to early to begin planning ahead for next season.