Is Kansas City Chiefs LB Nico Johnson A Starter?

By Colin Barton
Kelly Lambert-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs have a solid group of linebackers already, but does the addition of Alabama linebacker Nico Johnson give them another talented starter? Johnson was drafted in the fourth round as the 99th overall pick.  He came from one of the best defenses that the NCAA has to offer, which was also a 3-4 based defense. Johnson is regarded as one of the best run-stopping linebackers to come out of the 2013 draft, but he lacks experience when it comes to pass coverage. This being said, he has clocked a 4.65 40-yard dash at the combine which should be enough speed for an inside linebacker if he needs to drop into coverage. The question is does Johnson have enough talent to be a starter for the Chiefs when the season starts?

The first thing you have to look at is the other talent and competition at inside linebacker. It is safe to say that he won’t be taking over for Derrick Johnson, but he might have a good case to be selected as the starter over the recently signed Akeem Jordan. Jordan will be coming into his seventh season in the NFL, and he has much more experience than Johnson but has only been a starter in less then half the games he has played in. I’m suspecting that there will be an open competition for the starting job, but who should they choose as the starter? The veteran or the rookie?

The first big difference that you will notice will be the size as Johnson weighs in at 245lbs and is the taller of the two at 6’3″. Jordan might be a little undersized for an inside linebacker at 6’1″ and only weighs 230lbs. Johnson definitely beats him in the size category, but he could be a liability in pass coverage due to his lack of experience. So with comparing those two categories you could say that they are even as Johnson has the size and Jordan has the better pass coverage abilities. The other area to look into would be their run-stopping abilities, which is probably the most important attribute to have as an inside linebacker.  Johnson has proven himself in the collegiate ranks as a tough run-stopping linebacker, and Jordan is most likely too small to be a force as a run-stopping linebacker.

So after comparing the two on paper, it seems as if  Johnson might have the advantage over Jordan. He is also the younger player and has more time to improve on his abilities so he could turn into a complete player. Only time will decide this debate, but it will be interesting to see who the Chiefs choose as their starter as the season nears.

Colin Barton is a Kansas City Chiefs writer for Follow him on twitter @ColinBartonRS

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