Image Credit – PFF
While we are in the season’s intermission, lets review the defensive position groups performances from the first half of the season.
EDGE – B+
One of the deeper position groups on the team, the defensive ends have got contributions from everyone in the room. George Karlaftis (6 sacks) has taken a step up, Mike Danna (5.5 sacks) is showing he deserves a payday in the offseason, Charles Omenihu is back with a vengeance, and Malik Herring has been good in limited snaps. This group is not just deep, they are also extremely versatile. Each of those 4 players listed rush from the interior quite often on passing downs, while playing on the outside on base downs.
Apart from the major contributors, Felix Anudike-Uzomah has been quiet, but if you watch closely in limited snaps he is an athletic freak. He has a solid speed rush already, and his limited snaps are not an issue, it’s a testament to a deep and talented room.
INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINE – B
The leader of this room – Chris Jones (5.5 sacks), started very hot but has been a bit quiet the past few weeks. Still, his presence is felt, taking up multiple offensive linemen to free up one on one opportunities for other rushers. Tershawn Wharton has quietly been very good, and Derrick Nnadi has had a bounce-back year. Look for Jones to heat up in the back stretch of the season, which will make this defensive line one of the league’s best.
LINEBACKER – A
IMAGE CREDIT – Racine County Eye
The Chiefs have 5 solid starting-caliber linebackers. Not many teams can say this. Nick Bolton is the leader who rarely makes a mistake, Leo Chenal has ascended into a heat-seeking missile, Willie Gay Jr. flies around sideline to sideline like a maniac., Drue Tranquill (team tackle leader) is the versatile chess piece and Darius Harris is the underrated reliable contributor. These 5 have all shown to be above-average players when given significant snaps in their careers. Nick Bolton is the best of the group, but with his injury, this group has still been very good (Other than a bit worse against the run). Not a discredit to him, but rather more proof of my earlier point. The Chiefs have the deepest linebacker group in the National Football League.
CORNERBACK – A
The Chiefs have one of the best if not the best cornerback duo in the NFL. L’Jarius Sneed might be the league’s most versatile secondary player as he has excelled in every role he has been asked to play in his career. This year, he has moved back to the outside and has shadowed the opposing team’s best receiver all year. He has shut down the likes of Justin Jefferson, D.J. Moore, and Calvin Ridley. If he doesn’t make the Pro Bowl or All-Pro, I will have some questions. Trent McDuffie gets more love than Sneed, and while I don’t think he is as good as Sneed yet, he also has an argument for the Pro Bowl this year as he has been super sticky in coverage – and has a nose for forced fumbles. I would like to see him get his hands on a few more footballs in the air, as his only weakness has been getting his head turned and locating the ball on some deep shots. Look for McDuffie to get his first interception of the season in the next few games. Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson have both mixed in for snaps as CB3, and both have been solid. Williams has improved in coverage, and Watson continues to turn and locate the ball with ease – with a couple of key pass breakups already this year.
SAFETY – B-
Image Credit – NFL.com
With how high the other position groups have been graded so far in this piece, a B- may seem like a knock, but it isn’t. This room doesn’t have a standout starter – but they have a stud off the bench. Mike Edwards has been great as a 3rd safety and there are only two words that can be used to describe him – Ball Production. Bryan Cook has been solid, and Justin Reid has been up to par after a rough year last year. Chamarri Conner has been one of the better defensive rookies in limited snaps to round out the room.