Three defensive players to watch for ahead of training camp

The Chiefs return most of the starters to a unit that took them to back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, but what can these players bring to get them back on the mountaintop?

The Chiefs start training camp next week and there are a lot of questions on the defensive side of the ball. 

Who are the starting defensive backs?

What are the Chiefs going to do with Frank Clark?

Are the Chiefs going to sign a free-agent pass rusher?

All of these are fair questions to ask as a Chiefs fan, it’s weird to have so many uncertainties as a Super Bowl contending defense. Here are three players that should be fun to watch in position battles, as rookies or as possible answers to the questions. I’ve put together a list of three young players who should be entertaining to watch for those going to training camp and for those who cannot wait for preseason. 

3. Nick Bolton

The second-round linebacker out of the University of Missouri is going to be a fun player to watch as we head toward the preseason. He was the first pick of the draft for Kansas City and has a lot of hype surrounding him as he comes into camp. He showcased a lot of versatility while at Mizzou, but the Chiefs already have players in front of him who are going to be taking away reps from him. He should be hungry to compete with Anthony Hitchens and William Gay Jr. but he will need time to adjust to the system. Coach Steve Spagnuolo runs a very unique style of defense and it can be pretty daunting to first-year players, but Bolton seems up for the task. 

Bolton has incredible instincts, he loves to get to the ball by any means necessary and can play sideline-to-sideline. I am really excited for what he brings to the Chiefs, he was an absolutely meticulous tackler in college and was able to use his physicality to shed blockers and get to the ball carrier. He should be No. 3 on the depth chart behind Hitchens and Gay, but he could easily push into the top two by the end of the preseason.

If he can showcase his talents through camp and preseason, there is no reason as to why he shouldn’t be in multiple packages or starting before the season starts. He’s No. 3 on this list because he should be an impact player and make plays in training camp, he also plays in a position where there are quality players in front of him. Watch for him throughout camp and preseason as he figures out Spag’s system and tries to make an impact early in his career.

2. DeAndre Baker

Deandre Baker is a weird case, on one hand, he was a late-season addition, and on the other hand, he had a horrible injury. Baker was picked up off of waivers by the Chiefs late in the season as they made the push for the Super Bowl. He was seen as quality depth to sit behind the newly departed Brashaud Breeland, and Charvarius Ward and L’Jarius Sneed. But he had a broken femur in the last game of the season against the Los Angeles Chargers and was out for the playoffs. It was a devastating injury for a player who they would have counted on as extra depth as they heading into the playoffs.

This is more of the sight-unseen player to watch because we didn’t get to see how Baker would look like when he was fully indoctrinated in the defensive system. The Chiefs did re-sign him for 2021 and it is a risk for them to take a flyer out on a guy who had a major injury like Baker. But he’s a young player at 23 years old and I’m really interested to see what he can do with his talents. Coming off of a devastating injury, you also never know how a player is going to look or play, there is no status on if he is going to be playing in the preseason or not.

He will have to beat out other good corners like Ward and Rashod Fenton to get a starting job, but if he can make an impact in training camp and the preseason, he could be a great rotation player. He has all of the ability to be a quality defensive back for the Chiefs as they try to go to a third straight Super Bowl.

  1. Joshua Kaindoh

The Chiefs have a problem on the edges of the defense and it’s not getting better as we move toward camp. Melvin Ingram signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Chiefs brought back Alex Okafor instead of going out and trying to bring back Justin Houston. It might just be in the reactionary age we live in that it doesn’t look good that the depth on the edge is looking rough as we head into camp next week. But that could all change with how good Joshua Kaindoh looks in camp.

The rookie edge-rusher out of Florida State, Kaindoh is an athletic freak of nature at his size, but he’s raw. He’s going to need a lot of coaching and work on his game to see his full potential in the NFL. At 6-foot-5, 258 pounds, he should be a big body off the edge for the Chiefs. He had incredible plays while he was at Florida State, mainly just because he was ridiculously athletic.

Kaindoh might have to have a big role early in his career with the possible suspension hanging over Frank Clark. It might not be the best situation to step into, but it should be interesting to see if Kaindoh is ready to handle the pressure. He obviously won’t be starting right out of the gate, but I want to see if he can make an impact in camp and preseason. The Chiefs have Clark, Okafor, and Taco Charlton in front of Kaindoh on the depth chart at the moment, but that all can change in how he can play and what he brings to the table. 

I put him at No. 1 because of what is going on at the edge position and that he has all of the tools to be a solid NFL player in his rookie season. It really all depends on what he can do in camp.