Kansas City Chiefs Depth Chart: Linebackers
Andy Reid: Head Coach Kansas City Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs linebackers are the heart of this team, as it should be in a 3-4 defense. They have three Pro Bowl players, including Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston. If the other inside linebacker, which is a toss up between Akeem Jordan and Nico Johnson, can play up to par with the other three, the Chiefs may have the second best linebacker core (San Francisco being the first) in the game today. Houston and Hali should get more that 20 sacks this year combined and Derrick Johnson should have more that 100 tackles again for the Chiefs.
The unit that needs is somewhat of a question mark is the backups to the starting five linebackers already mentioned. Edgar Jones, Frank Zombo and Zac Diles have played great during the preseason, but will need to play even better to keep the starters fresh and going for the duration of the game.
Between Akeem Jordan and Nico Johnson, I always pick the one with more upside and in this case it is the rookie Johnson. Johnson is great against the run but has shown flashes of being good against the pass as well. If he can trust his instincts and become a three down linebacker, the Chiefs may have just gotten a steal in the fourth round of the 2013 NFL Draft this year.
However, Akeem Jordan came over from the Philadelphia Eagles with Andy Reid this offseason, so he should get the nod to start the season, but it will only be a matter of time before the Chiefs go with Johnson and Johnson in the middle.
Justin Houston: 1st-String Outside Linebacker
A beast on the outside, he has the most talent of any pass rusher the Chiefs have on their roster. A former third-round pick with first-round talent, Houston should provide more that 10 sacks again this year.
Frank Zombo: 2nd-String Outside Linebacker
Zombo is a solid veteran who is perfect to play and spell the likes of Houston and Hali. As some may have saw in the last preseason game, he is instinctual and found his way to an interception that set up some points for the Chiefs.
Derrick Johnson: 1st-String Inside Linebacker
Derrick Johnson is a stud on the inside and should lead the team in tackles again this year. He has great speed and can cover tight ends, and runningbacks out of the backfield in pass coverage.
Nico Johnson: 1st-String Inside Linebacker
I put Nico as the First-String Inside linebacker because that is my preference over Jordan. Like I said in the introduction slide, if he can trust his instincts in pass coverage, he might just be an every down player for the Chiefs.
Akeem Jordan: 2nd-String Inside Linebacker
Akeem Jordan is the backup but that doesn't mean he is worse that the starter. Jordan is better against the pass than the run but that wont matter because they have Nico for run downs.
Tamba Hali: 1st-String Outside Linebacker
Tamba Hali makes up the other pass rushing linebacker for the Chiefs. Combined with Houston, I wouldn't be surprised for them to get over 25 sacks combined for Bob Sutton.
Edgar Jones: 2nd-String Outside Linebacker
Jones is a big fast outside linebacker who is still learning how to rush the passer. He had solid fundamentals however and won't over pursue like many would in that situation.
Josh Martin: 3rd-String Outside Linebacker
Josh Martin was a surprise to make this team but the Chiefs and Andy Reid really liked his potential and went with a younger player rather in Martin rather than other options.
Zac Diles: 3rd-String Inside Linebacker
Diles will mostly be a special teams player but he is a veteran from Tennessee should shore up the special teams tackling unit.