The Chiefs have a roster filled with stars but there are some unsung heroes that are crucial to the success of the Chiefs going into the 2021 season.
I feel like phrase “overrated” and “underrated” might be some of the most misunderstood words in media today. Any time we hear the phrase “overrated” we automatically think that whatever is being discussed is awful, trash, and not good at all… likewise, “underrated” does not mean: elite, great, or better. Both terms simply mean that the item at hand is being over or under valued. So saying something like “Odell Beckham Jr. is overrated,” doesn’t mean he’s a bad player, or wouldn’t be a great addition to any roster. It just means that the reputation might not match the production or the perceived value.
It’s hard to call a player overrated or underrated until we have seen something to rate as well. So saying “Nick Bolton is overrated,” Is kind of a lost point at this time, you can believe he was over drafted, but he hasn’t proved anything good or bad at the NFL level, yet. Also, it’s easy to recognize that situations matter to players. Good players can struggle in bad situations and bad players can look better in good situations. We don’t know what the Chiefs version of Joe Thuney, Orlando Brown or Jarran Reed will look like, so calling them underrated is a little too early to tell.
#3- Mike Remmers
Okay put down your pitch forks and torches for just a second and hear me out. let’s imagine the Chiefs win Super Bowl 55, despite a brutal pass rush the Chiefs manage to score enough to win. Mike Remmers sliding over the left tackle would be crowned as a huge signing and he would go down as a legend. Obviously, that did not happen. But the result of the final of the game of the year should not let us forget the journey that was taken to get there. Remmers started at right tackle for the majority of the season after losing an all-pro at the position. Though Remmers will never be mistaken for an all-pro he played solid right tackle, and allowed the Chiefs to still be one of the most dominant offenses in the NFL.
Last year, Remmers ranked 40th out of 79 qualifying tackles according to PFF; which makes him almost perfectly average. Which is part of what makes him so valuable! Remmers can slide in and play guard as well, and getting average tackle play for pennies on the dollar is tremendously valuable. He reminds me of a great utility player in baseball, he may not start every day but he adds so much value by being flexible and dependable. Remmers will compete with rookie Lucas Niang for the right tackle job. The loser of that battle will likely be their “swing tackle” which is also a crucial piece that Andy Reid has prioritized since being in Kansas City.
#2 Dereck Nnadi
There are very few positions that are less glamorous on the gridiron than being an interior run defender. Nnadi has been the only success that has come from the 2018 draft class, and he is often overlooked when discussing the defense. Though Nnadi rarely ever “pops” off the screen with huge impact plays his flexibility and assignment sound play allows the Chiefs to run sub-packages that prioritize speed and athleticism, making them vulnerable to the run. Eric Eager of PFF wrote a great piece about the underrated value of interior run defenders and how they allow defenses to do more in coverage.
Nnadi ranks 26th out of 126 qualifying interior defensive lineman according to PFF. More importantly he has an 81.6 run defense grade which makes him by far the best run defender on the defense. In 2018 the Chiefs defense was horrid against the run and the pass, and while the Chiefs have never been a “great” run defense, Nnadi has been a part of the steady improvement of the run defense. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2021 season and would be a big loss to a defensive line that could potentially be losing 4 starters (Clark, Nnadi, Charlton and Reed).
#1 Anthony Hitchens
It’s hard to quantify all of the things Anthony Hitchens has done for the Chiefs defense. Especially because when you look at the grades and stats nothing about Hitchens sticks out as a key impact player. However, it would be foolish to ignore the many other aspects of play, besides counting stats. “The glue of the defense” is how defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo describes him. Last week, new outside linebackers coach Ken Flajole admitted there are times that Hitchens actually makes corrections to the defense that the coaching staff misses on the field.
Hitchens has gotten his name dragged through the mud alot since he came to Kansas City in 2018 and part of it was deserved. It’s fair to admit that Hitchens did not live up to his contract and is ALSO underrated as a player. He brings a level of toughness to the defense that it was deeply missing since the loss of Derrick Johnson. Hitchens steps up in big games, especially against the run, against teams like the 49’ers, Ravens and the Titans. It’s also worth noting that Hitchens has increased his PFF score every year since joining the team. Hitchens is the back bone of the defense and Nick Bolton has a lot to prove to be his replacement in 2022.