When Kansas City lost Damien Wilson in free agency, it left some questions as to who will replace him or what will the Chiefs do about getting depth behind Gay and Hitchens.
The Kansas City Chiefs defense last season was fairly impressive for most of the season, finishing 8th in total defense by the end of the year. But after the Super Bowl loss, most fans assumed there would be losses for cap space or players would seek bigger contracts elsewhere. One such player was Damien Wilson, who signed a contract with the Jaguars last Friday. Now without a lot of depth at the linebacker position, it is time for the Chiefs to address the loss of Wilson in the draft or through free agency. Here are some ways the Chiefs can do just that.
With Kansas City probably going Offensive Line or Edge Rusher with their first-round pick, here are some draft prospects who project to be in the second round or later who could help fill the void left by Damien Wilson.
Jabril Cox, LSU – Jabril Cox would be an outstanding player for the Chiefs to draft, he’s an amazingly talented coverage linebacker with great ball skills. He’s able to make plays in man or zone coverage, and that’s super important for the AFC West where he would have to cover pass-catching backs or tight ends. He would fit well in nickel and dime packages the Chiefs run on long yardage downs and could even cover some slot receivers if need be.
Monty Rice, Georgia – Monty Rice doesn’t have the size many would want for an ideal linebacker, at 6-foot-1, 235 pounds, but he makes up for it with his speed. He is extremely fast for his position, running an unofficial 4.57 40-yard dash. He loves to attack in the run game, getting past blockers with his speed and leverage. He’s no slouch in the passing game either, sometimes having to cover slot receivers and winning some of the matchups. He would fit well on the Chiefs due to his versatility and his prowess for the ball, especially with the matchups the Chiefs could face throughout the season.
Jamin Davis, Kentucky – At 6-foot-4, 234 pounds, Jamin Davis would be an amazing third-round steal for Kansas City. He is a run-thumping type of linebacker who can take on all types of blockers and shed them easily. He would bring some much-needed help in a run defense, which could use some physicality at the second level. He does have his limits, at his size he’s not great in coverage and isn’t fast enough to cover a faster running back. He would not be an every-down linebacker coming out of the draft, but would fit in well in run-heavy packages and could be good on the blitz.
Even though this year’s free-agent class of linebackers is not as deep as it usually is, there are plenty of good players who could be cheaper options for the Chiefs.
Avery Williamson – Williamson has had a solid career so far, playing strong in Tennessee, New York, and finally, in Pittsburgh last year. He’s a very stable linebacker who can do it all, he has great instincts at the linebacker position and is good in certain coverage situations. He also could be ring chasing after being on the Jets for the first half of last season before he jumped ship to Pittsburgh. So joining Kansas City on a team-friendly deal like Jarran Reed could be an option for him. He would jump at the chance to play in a system like Kansas City, as it was similar to the ones the Jets and Steelers. Williamson would be a really solid addition to a defense that could be special next season.
Vince Williams – Vince Williams isn’t the perfect inside linebacker, but he is a heavy blitzing linebacker. Much how Reggie Ragland was a good fit for the run defense, Vince Williams could bring the same amount of heat to the Chiefs. He has always been at the top of linebacker QB pressures and would bring a physical element to the run defense game. Williams might be a great fit on run-heavy sets and blitz packages. Kansas City should consider signing an athletic run stopper to put in the mix with Gay and Hitchens.
B.J. Goodson – Goodson could be a sneaky good signing for Kansas City. He was an important rotation player on the Browns last season and was able to create havoc in some games last season. Goodson was able to start on a very good run defense team last season and being able to bring some physicality, which would be important to Kansas City. He’s an under-the-radar player but would be a nice piece to the second level of the Chiefs defense. Even though he isn’t a bigger name, he would bring some good depth behind the two starters.
Damien Wilson’s loss is important for the Chiefs to address and it seems like there are a variety of options for them to look at. Most Chiefs fans should look toward budget fixes or mid-round prospects to fill the hole left by Wilson.