When you think about the Kansas City Chiefs and their biggest off-season needs, you might think that they don’t have any needs. They just won the Superbowl, so why fix what isn’t broke? However, even if they were to bring everybody back from last year’s championship roster (which they won’t), there would still be room to improve. Every team can always be improved. With that said, let’s look at the ten biggest needs for the Chiefs this off-season.
The CBs last season were actually a pretty solid group and were drastically better than their performance in 2018. However, the front office still showed interest in improving the group when there were reported inquiries for Jalen Ramsey before the trade deadline. They obviously felt that the CB position could still be better. To make matters worse, four of the corners on last year’s squad are now unrestricted free agents, including starters Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller. Assuming that those two will need to be replaced, free agent and former Bronco Chris Harris could be an option. Harris is 30 years old and may have a couple of productive years left in the tank. If the Chiefs want to build through the draft, then Ohio State corner Damon Arnette may be available with the 32nd pick in this year’s draft. Arnette started 38 games and recorded five career interceptions for the Buckeyes. He was named Second-Team All-Big Ten last season.
The Chiefs LB core came on strong about midway through the season but there could still be an upgrade there, especially in run support. The Chiefs have two LBs, Darron Lee and Reggie Ragland, that are expected to leave in free agency and they have to decide whether or not to pick up the club option on Damien Wilson. Wilson’s option would not be too expensive so I wouldn’t be surprised if Brett Veach picks it up, but Lee and Ragland probably aren’t coming back. One option for a replacement would be former Browns LB, Joe Schobert. Schobert will be entering his fifth year with 408 career tackles, six interceptions, and eight and a half sacks. He will come at a price but at 26 years old, he could become a staple on an improving defense. Another option would be through the draft. LSU’s Patrick Queen could be available if the Chiefs decide to go LB in the first round. Queen played 29 games with the Tigers and had 131 tackles, including 59 solo, 4 sacks, and 1 interception. He is a little undersized for the 4-3 but he has a high IQ and is really good in coverage.
This one will obviously depend on what happens with Chris Jones. Currently, Jones is going to receive the franchise tag and there is speculation that since the tag was used so quickly, then Jones and the front office are not particularly close to a long-term deal. If Jones becomes a tag and trade player, then the Chiefs would need to think about a replacement (as if you could even replace a guy like Jones). Also, breakout DT Mike Pennel is also set to be a free agent. For me, the best option here is to keep Chris Jones and work out a long-term deal. He has proven to be a game-changer for the Chiefs and that was apparent in the Super Bowl. However, if they have to replace him, I would expect them to trade Jones for some high draft picks. If that is the case, then the Chiefs could be in play for a guy like Javon Kinlaw out of South Carolina. Kinlaw had 35 tackles with six sacks and two passes defended last year for the Gamecocks. He has a similar size to Jones and has a good mix of strength and speed to get off of his blocks.
Damien Williams came on strong at the end of last year, just like he did the year before when he replaced Kareem Hunt. With his playoff and Super Bowl performances, Williams should go into this upcoming season as the number one back. However, today’s running games usually rely on multiple backs and LeSean McCoy and Spencer Ware will likely not be back with the team. Plus, Darwin Thompson’s rookie campaign was underwhelming. Utah’s Zack Moss would be a nice pick up in day two of the draft. At 5’10” and 222 lbs, Moss is more of a bulldozer than Williams and would provide a change of pace in the backfield. He finished his senior campaign at Utah with 1,416 yards and 15 touchdowns.
The Chiefs’ edge rushers performed very well last season led by the free-agent acquisition Frank Clark. But with Emmanuel Ogbah and Terrell Suggs hitting free agency, Tanoh Kpassagnon and Alex Okafor are all that is left to play alongside Clark. The Chiefs could lean towards adding a rotational piece through the draft. Michigan’s Josh Uche doesn’t have a ton of experience, only starting nine games out of 13, but in those games, he was able to rack up eight and a half sacks for the Wolverines. According to Pro Football Focus, Uche was the highest-graded player in this year’s Senior Bowl.
Uche should be available when the Chiefs go to pick at the end of the second round.
Interior Offensive Line
When you have the best player in the NFL under center, then you can never stop investing in offensive linemen. This group of linemen actually improved a lot of the course of the season. However, journeyman guard Stefen Wisniewski is a free agent and center Austin Reiter is serviceable but can be upgraded. Since protecting Patrick Mahomes should be a top priority, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Chiefs take an interior lineman early. In fact, Michigan’s Cesar Ruiz would be a logic pick at 32. He is a versatile player who can play both guard and center and he’s got good technique with a ton of power.
WR could be a need because the Chiefs will most likely be without DeMarcus Robinson and possibly Sammy Watkins. Watkins will definitely have to take a large pay cut and after his performance in the playoffs and in the Super Bowl, that seems unlikely. The team will likely have to add a piece to play alongside Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman. One option could be the guy who the Athletic’s Jon Machota reported was running routes for Patrick Mahomes back in late February: Dez Bryant.
Now, Dez is 31 years old and hasn’t played since 2017, but he is a physical receiver and that is something that the Chiefs don’t currently have.
Tight End number 2
The Chiefs certainly don’t have to worry about the starting TE position. They have the best one in the league in Travis Kelce. However, there was a dramatic drop off between TE1 and TE2. This could be an opportunity for Andy Reid to find a project type player somewhere around the fourth or fifth round. Albert Okwuegbunam out of Missouri could be that project. Okwuegbunam caught 26 passes for 306 yards and six touchdowns for the Tigers last season. At the combine, he ran a blazing 4.49 which, according to the NFL’s Twitter account, would tie for fourth-fastest 40 by a tight end since 2003.
OT could be upgraded for the same reason that the interior line could be upgraded: Patrick Mahomes. Mitchell Schwartz is great. There is no need for an upgrade there. Eric Fisher could be a different story. Fisher did have a pretty good year but according to Pro Football Focus, Fisher had an overall grade of 64.3. For the first 10 games of the season, he was ranked in the bottom twelve percent of all qualifying tackles. That’s not good enough to protect a quarterback that the Chiefs will probably end up paying close to 200 million dollars for. An option would be to draft someone to eventually replace Fisher. Josh Jones out of Houston is projected to go in the fourth round of this year’s draft. The 6-5, 311 pounder has long arms used to get to the defender first and has the power to finish his blocks.
Matt Moore proved to be a vital addition to the Chiefs when Patrick Mahomes went down with a dislocated knee against the Broncos. He was able to win two of the three games that he played in, which kept the Chiefs season from spiraling out of control. However, Moore is a free agent now and so is former back-up QB, Chad Henne. I think that the best option here is to bring one of these guys back on a one-year deal because using a draft pick on a QB wouldn’t make too much sense.