Previewing Kansas City Chiefs’ Defense: Player-By-Player Breakdown
Kansas City Chiefs Defense: Player By Player Breakdown
I recently did an article on the Kansas City Chiefs and what no-name players could have a big season in 2013. As I was doing the article however, I found myself wanting to add in all of the great players that the team has on defense and offense. So I started making a list of the big-name players on defense first. The Chiefs had five first-round draft picks, three good cornerbacks, and one of the best linebacker cores in the NFL. I soon realized that I should not only do it on the big-name players, but the whole defense, including nickel corner, and situational run stoppers.
I will get to the offense in another article, as for the defense, I expect them to play much better this season after under-performing last year (it didn't help that the offense couldn't hold onto the football either). New defensive coordinator Bob Sutton, who comes from a Rex Ryan overload-blitzing, lots-of-looks, press-man defense, will help the Chiefs to a top-10 defense next year. They will create turnovers, and Sutton will allow the team's pass rushers to attack the quarterback (last year under Romeo Crennel, they played more coverage than blitzing).
You can pencil in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston to combine for 25 sacks this year (19 combined in 2012), and Derrick Johnson to lead the team in tackles. But there are also some shocking players that I think will make the playoffs with the team, along with one who might be in it as the NFL Defensive Player Of The Year Honors.
Most people agree that a team should build a defense from the defensive line back, so without making you wait any longer, the defensive line is up first.
Mike Devito - Defensive End
Mike Devito comes over from the New York Jets at the behest of Bob Sutton to replace the expired contract of Glen Dorsey. Devito is a relentless player that plays through the whistle and hustles to the ball on every snap. He is a run-stopping specialist and a key component to letting the team's great linebackers make plays. Expect him to be in there on run downs and be replaced by Austen Lane or Allen Bailey on passing downs.
Dontari Poe - Nose Tackle
Dontari Poe was the 11th-overall draft pick of the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2012 NFL Draft. He was really raw coming out of college, but had an amazing combine, showing off his athletic ability and unbelievable strength. Now in his second year, he looks natural as a nose tackle and is letting his athletic skills take over. Look for him to collapse the pocket on a regular basis, have 4-6 sacks on the season and make his first of many Pro Bowls.
Tyson Jackson - Run-Stopping Specialist
Jackson in another relentless player on the defensive line for the Chiefs. He was the third-overall draft pick a while ago, and while he has under-performed based on his draft slot, I expect him to produce and do what he does best: stop the run in its tracks. Jackson, Poe and Devito have been consistently collapsing the pocket in preseason, and I don't expect it to stop come regular season. I also believe that Jackson will get some snaps in passing situations, and he will have 4-6 sacks on the year as well.
Tamba Hali - Pass-Rushing Outside Linebacker
Tamba Hali is the best pass rusher on the team. He had nine sacks a year ago and along with Justin Houston, he led a formidable outside rush in the Chiefs' base 3-4 defense. I expect Hali and Houston to have at least 25 sacks and a bunch of tackles for loss. Expect Hali to make the Pro Bowl as one of many Chiefs defensive players that will.
Derrick Johnson - Playmaking Inside Linebacker
Derrick Johnson has led the Chiefs in tackles the past few seasons. He is one of the best interior linebackers in the league and a former first-round pick. Look for Johnson to lead the Chiefs in tackles again and make another Pro Bowl appearance.
Akeem Jordan - Coverage Inside Linebacker
Akeem Jordan is a Andy Reid-era from the Philadelphia Eagles. He is better against the pass than against the run, but I am putting him in here because he will likely be in on second and third-and-long situations, which is a lot of the time. He has some pass rush ability, but look for him to drop into coverage more than not, and cover running backs coming out of the backfield.
Nico Johnson - Run-Stopping Inside Linebacker
Nico Johnson was fourth-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft out of Alabama. He should come in right away and help on run downs. To me, he also shows some drop coverage skills, although he looks hesitant to trust his instincts. If he can become more decisive in coverage, he might just become the outright starter on every down, but for now, look for him to destroy the fullback, which in turn will allow Derrick Johnson to make the tackle.
Justin Houston - Pass-Rushing Specialist
Justin Houston was a third-round pick in 2011, but only because he had off-field issues at Georgia. He had a first-round grade from most, and the Chiefs smartly gave him a chance. He has been a model citizen off the field ever since, and a complete terror on it. He led the Chiefs in sacks last year with 10, and I expect him to have 12-14 sacks this year as I believe he is the most gifted pass-rusher in terms talent.
Brandon Flowers - Shutdown Cornerback
Brandon Flowers is a second-round pick who came out of Virginia Tech as a Cover 2 corner. He has transformed himself into a top-10 cornerback in the league and will be a vital part of the Chiefs being one the top defenses in the NFL this year. Flowers is shorter than most and got picked on a little by taller receivers last year, but now that the team has Sean Smith, Flowers can use his talents on the smaller wide receivers. Look for him to be part of three Chiefs defensive backs to make the Pro Bowl.
Sean Smith - Big, Physical Cornerback
Sean Smith is a monster of a man playing cornerback. At 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, he can impose his will on many bigger wide receivers and take them out of the game. Last year, he played in Miami, where they played more off coverage. With Bob Sutton, expect a lot of press man-to-man coverage out of Smith and a Pro Bowl appearance.
Dunta Robinson - Nickel Corner
The Chiefs brought in Dunta Robinson this offseason and traded away Javier Arenas to the Arizona Cardinals because of it. Dunta will be used a lot in this defense, which is why I put him with the starters. Most teams use three-wide receiver formations a lot now, and Dunta is one of the better nickel cornerbacks in the league. He will bring fire to a secondary that should rank in the top-10 this year.
Eric Berry - Strong Safety
Eric Berry is my favorite player because he can do everything from the safety position. He's covered wide receivers, backs, tight ends, played in run support, dropped into zone and rushed the passer in the past. Berry will be used all over the field next year and I expect him to be in talks for the NFL Defensive Player Of The Year in 2013.
Kendrick Lewis has all the talent to be a starting free safety in the NFL, but injuries have caused him to not fill that potential. Lewis is great in coverage, but because of the injuries, he's often like a matador when it comes to tackling, and runs around but not through the bull with the ball. If he can get over his hang-ups about not wanting to get injured, he could absolutely gel this entire defense into not only a top-10 defense like I predicted, but a top-three one.
Chiefs Defensive Recap
There you have it Chiefs fans. Get excited about your Chiefs' defense because I expect, just like a lot of you do, that they are going to be really good in 2013. I think I counted roughly 40-45 sacks, which would put them in the top-10, but I also believe that they will have a great run defense as well. The biggest flaw I have seen with them this preseason is their play against a scrambling quarterback, or over-pursuing. If they can stay disciplined and keep those types of quarterbacks in the pocket, I have no doubt they will become one of the best defenses in the NFL. If you liked the Kansas City Chiefs defensive player-by-player preview, stay tuned for the preview of the offense.
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