Nothing about the 2020 Kansas City Chiefs was quiet, not the swagger they showed off the field and certainly not the way they played on the field. With a roster full of stars and big names it can lead to some very good players being left out of the spotlight, especially on a championship winning team. Derrick Nnadi is one such player, and in his second season in Kansas City he continued to show improvement as a player.
Nnadi finished the season with 48 total tackles, three TFL’s, one sack, one forced fumble, and one interception. While these numbers won’t exactly blow anyone away his impact to the defense is much more than on the stat sheet. The Chiefs grew into a defense by the end of the season and that Nnadi was right square in the middle of the transformation.
The first thing that really popped out on film about Nnadi was his motor. He has some fast-twitch in the way he plays, and he uses this quickness to make plays. In the clip above Detroit wants to run a trap play toward Nnadi. The center is blocking back but this is to distract Nnadi from where the play will hit. However, he sees the play open up differently and sheds the block to get in on the tackle. This game he recorded nine tackles with a sack as well as a forced fumble. He uses his quickness and play recognition to help him get around the ball almost every play.
In his second year with the Chiefs Nnadi grew into a formidable run stuffer from his one technique or shade position he normally plays along the line.
He is a stocky, stout type player but he uses his leverage to his advantage. He has good hand placement and is able to lock and extend on the offensive linemen while at the same time doing a great job of keeping his eyes in the backfield to locate the RB.
Nnadi moves well for a big man on the inside, has really good lateral movement, and does a good job of not allowing offensive linemen to reach block him. He fights off the block and keeps playing till he puts a big hit on the back. The clip below also shows some of his lateral ability as well as play recognition. San Francisco runs an outside pin and pull play designed to win the edge. Nnadi sees this right away and quickly disengages from his block and takes off with a quick burst down the sideline. He takes a good angle to the play and forces the back out.
Nnadi has a strong base and he really uses it to push around the centers he goes against. Above he gets the C overextended and then tosses him as Dalvin Cook goes into his cut and makes the big stop
One of the more bizarre plays of the year was set up by Nnadi who found himself in the interesting position of dropping back into coverage. The play would result in Nnadi stripping the ball from Matt Stafford which would be recovered by Chris Jones. The coaching staff put some trust in Nnadi’s athletic ability but he proves them right by running down Stafford and making the play.
What makes Nnadi a special part of the Chiefs team is doing his job, and he does his job well. From playing gap sound over the center to taking on double teams he has been an outstanding fit for the Chiefs 4-3 transition. Above he walks Rodney Hudson, a very good center, into the backfield, setting up Jones for the tackle when Jacobs cuts. Day in day out he does whatever is asked of him to help his team win football games. Ohh and the big man has some hand as well…
With two seasons now in the books, Nnadi will have to look to continue to improve his game while looking to continue to help the Chiefs grow. After the Super Bowl victory a very emotional Nnadi was seen in pure jubilation. This is what years of hard work and effort look like when it all pays off.