KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs revamped the defensive line for the 2019 season, a bold move for a team that finished tied first in the NFL last season with 52 sacks.
The Chiefs, who parted ways with Bob Sutton after the season, also were among the NFL's 10 worst defenses in points allowed during the 2018 season despite all the sacks.
With the arrival of new defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, Kansas City will have a different priority in terms of skill set for the position. The former Super Bowl-winning defensive coordinator prefers strong, stout defensive ends who can hold the edge against the run but also are athletic enough to run twists, stunts and loops.
The Chiefs' new pass-rushing style won't revolve around speed off the edge and collapsing the pocket. Instead, it will be based on a combination of shooting gaps, disguising where pressure is coming from, and power.
The new-look defensive line will be asked to play behind the line of scrimmage rather than merely holding it.
With that in mind, here are some fits for the Chiefs:
ADDITIONAL NFL DRAFT COVERAGE
[April 10 — Nick Jacobs: Best running back fits ]
[April 11 — Nick Jacobs: Best wide receiver fits ]
[April 12 — Nick Jacobs: Best tight end fits ]
[April 15 — Nick Jacobs: Best interior offensive line fits ]
[April 16 — Nick Jacobs: Best offensive tackle fits ]
[Today — Nick Jacobs: Best edge rusher fits]
[April 18 — Nick Jacobs: Seven-round Chiefs mock draft, v 1.0 ]
[April 18 — Nick Jacobs: best defensive tackle fits ]
[April 19 — Nick Jacobs: First-round mock draft ]
[April 19 — Nick Jacobs: Best linebacker fits ]
[April 22 — Nick Jacobs: Best cornerback fits ]
BEST EDGE RUSHER FITS FOR CHIEFS
1. Nick Bosa, Ohio State
Height: 6-3 — Weight: 266 — Bench press: 29 — 10-yard split: 1.60
Bosa has good bend around the edge. He like to dip-and-rip while using his speed to beat the tackle, but he also will work inside at times by setting the tackle up and shooting across his face.
The younger brother of Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa, Nick has a great feel for the blocks and adjusts accordingly. He would thrive in an attacking 4-3 scheme, especially as a wide nine technique.
2. Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
Height: 6-5 — Weight: 260 — Bench press: 21 — 10-yard split: 1.55
Sweat is one of the fastest edge rusher around the corner. His size and arm length stand out, but he hasn’t fully developed into his frame yet and could still add good weight.
Sweat raises his game to another level after making a couple of plays. Then, there's no stopping his speed and bend around the edge. He also has a good pop that can knock a tackle off balance.
But Sweat isn't one-dimensional. He can run twists, stunts and other pass-rushing games to perfection with his speed and timing. He has the hips to change directions quickly and explode.
Sweat gives maximum individual effort sprinting down the line of scrimmage on run plays from the backside.
3. Brian Burns, Florida State
Height: 6-4 — Weight: 249 — Bench press: n/a — 10-yard split: 1.57
Burns arguably is the fastest edge rusher in the draft with an elite burst around the edge and closing ability. He has good size but needs to bulk up even more for durability.
Technique-wise, Burns does a great job of setting up tackles with his speed and changing direction along with counter moves, but needs a good defensive line coach to help develop better combinations.
Burns takes a while to diagnosis plays. but he has good recovery speed. His ability to improve his strength training and learn to disengage from blocks more effectively will determine how good his career is.
4. Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
Height: 6-4 — Weight: 264 — Bench press: 25 — 10-yard split: n/a
Ferrell is an under-control pass rusher. He has explosiveness but knows when to utilize it versus outrunning an angle or play.
Ferrell has good bend and close, making him arguably one of the best players in the draft at crashing down and blowing up run plays. The former Tigers star diagnoses plays well in the backfield and rarely misses tackles, because he stays under control and properly breaks down.
With too much speed-to-power for a tight end or running back to block him, Ferrell shines on loops, stunts and games. He also stuffs pull blocks and creates a pile well.
5. Charles Omenihu, Texas
Height: 6-5 — Weight: 280 — Bench press: 18 — 10-yard split: 1.67
Omenihu can line up and rush from both edges. He is at his best in a three-point stance, but he's also capable of being a stand-up end or starting in a four-point stance. The former Longhorns standout has long arms to extend and keep offensive linemen away from him.
Omenihu’s trademark pass-rush move is his pull-and-swim rush. He also has a good dip-and-rip and extends a hand to keep tackle from getting his arms in the framework to hold him.
6. Jaylon Ferguson, Louisiana Tech
Height: 6-5 — Weight: 262 — Bench press: 24 — 10-yard split: 1.69
Ferguson is reasonably strong for the position and versatile, having rushed from both the right and left sides. His success was noticeably better from the left side as a five-technique versus the right side.
Technically, Ferguson holds the line of scrimmage well, keeps defenders out of his chest, is good at reading the backfield and disengages block well. He showed more power from a three-point stance, but is willing to change up his rushing style to get the tackle off balance.
Ferguson is relentless in his desire to get to the quarterback. His swim and dip moves are his best moves, but he shows a solid bull rush from a three-point stance. At times, he finds a little extra burst then fails to sustain it.
7. Jachai Polite, Florida
Height: 6-2 — Weight: 258 — Bench press: n/a — 10-yard split: 1.71
Polite is a solid edge rusher but lacks elite speed and size. He has good bend and dip around the corner, hand fights well to avoid linemen locking in on him and closes well once he reaches the edge.
In run support, Polite is solid and reads the backfield well. He would do well at twist and games and shows good pursuit down the backside in run support.
Polite rushed from both sides in college, but he really excelled at right defensive end. He typically rushes in a two-point stance but may benefit from hand in the dirt, because he gets a better pop out of that stance.
8. Joe Jackson, Miami
Height: 6-4 — Weight: 275 — Bench press: 242 — 10-yard split: n/a
Jackson has a powerful bull rush with a good dip-and-rip, but he shows average speed and ability to turn the corner along with an average close.
That said, Jackson consistently gives great effort, though he profiles as a rotational pass rusher early in his career. The former Hurricane is good at twists and games and shows a willingness to try different moves and combinations to keep the tackle guessing.
Other edge rushers who fit the Chiefs: Zach Allen (Boston College), Oshane Ximines (Old Dominion), Austin Bryant (Clemson), Wyatt Ray (Boston College), Chase Winovich (Michigan), Maxx Crosby (Eastern Michigan), L.J. Collier (TCU), Shareef Miller (Penn State), John Cominsky (Charleston) and Carl Granderson (Wyoming)
The Chiefs certainly could use reinforcements in their edgepass-rush rotation, and it will likely need to come in the first three rounds if they want to find an impact player.