Breaking down defensive line competition
The Kansas City Chiefs have a lot of questions about the defensive line, but here’s how the competition is shaping up at this point in the summer.
The biggest concern with the current Kansas City Chiefs roster structure is defensive line depth and experience. At tackle, Chris Jones enters the year in great shape but Jarran Reed is gone. Although Derrick Nnadi and Tershawn Wharton have proved useful, they will both need to step up their efforts in 2022.
Melvin Ingram has left the defensive room and Frank Clark is only getting older. The youthful depth on the edge is surrounded by question marks, and right now there isn’t even a shred of certainty as to what the rotation will look like in week one.
Let’s look at the overall competition outside and inside Kansas City at this point in the summer.
Defensive end competition
With the aforementioned uncertainty in this room, there are a variety of openings for meaningful snaps up for grabs via off-season competition. With Brett Veach and the front office selecting George Karlaftis with the 30th overall pick in this year’s draft, it’s speculated he’ll have the opportunity to take on a meaningful role immediately.
Things get a lot more interesting on defense, however, when you consider the role Frank Clark will play in the upcoming season. While his deal was restructured this offseason to move money and lock him in through the 2023 season, there’s no guarantee he’ll remain a top instant-share holder for the rushers in 2022.
Mike Danna, who played the second-most snaps for the Chiefs on the edge in 2021, and the development of last year’s fourth-round pick Joshua Kaindoh are currently in the spotlight. Danna spent most of last season splitting her time with Alex Okafor as Clark’s counterpart. He only made six starts but appeared in all 17 games and compiled three sacks. Kaindoh has appeared in just three games in 21, spending almost the entire season in the practice squad.
There’s nothing out of the ordinary between those descriptions, but given how quickly the DE free agency pool has thinned this offseason, that may be all the Chiefs have to work with in rotating this year. On the bright side, there should be legitimate competition between the two for the top rotation spot, and each brings at least one interesting consideration to the table: Danna has last year’s experience to draw on, and Kaindoh has the opportunity to prove the critics wrong.
It was his measurable traits that made Kaindoh a day three contender for the 2021 Draft. His 6’5″, 260-pound frame is blessed with length and strength that typically translates to the NFL. During his three seasons at Florida State, however, he struggled with injuries and, after a successful freshman campaign, was unable to show any durability. heading into the draft was that he lacked the “computer factor” for an NFL passing passer, and he surely has aspirations to disprove that theory.
Clark will likely start opposite Karlaftis, but as he gradually retires from the Kansas City scene, the 2022 season will be an opportunity for one or two people to earn another contract with the team.