The Kansas City Chiefs are remaking their defense this season, and it’ll be predicated by speed, athleticism and youth.
Out with the old. In with the new. This offseason, Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach appeared to take that saying literally for his defense.
Over the past few months, Veach allowed safety Tyrann Mathieu to leave in free agency, replacing him with former Houston Texans star Justin Reid. On the second level, Jermaine Carter and rookie Leo Chenal are replacing Anthony Hitchens and Ben Niemann, while second-year man Nick Bolton and third-year speedster Willie Gay Jr. are in line for more snaps.
This week, defensive line coach Brendan Daly talked about Bolton’s talents and what he’s seen from the Missouri product, per NFL.com:
“I was very impressed with Nick a year ago, particularly from a mental standpoint. He’s one of those people that the more you’re around him, the more impressed you become with him. He’s grown from a mental standpoint, he’s grown from a communication standpoint and he’s grown from a leadership standpoint. It’s been really fun to watch, and impressive, to be honest. It’s pretty amazing the amount that he’s handling at such a young age. There are times that I have to [remind myself] that he’s only in his second year.”
Up front, Kansas City got a compensatory pick for edge rusher Melvin Ingram, who left for the Miami Dolphins. He was replaced by first-round pick George Karlaftis, who comes to Kansas City by way of Purdue. Karlaftis projects to start immediately and opposite of Frank Clark, who is likely in his final season with the Chiefs after restructuring his deal.
Finally, the secondary’s changes went beyond Mathieu and Reid. Corner Charvarius Ward left for the San Francisco 49ers and was replaced by another first-round rookie in former University of Washington corner Trent McDuffie.
Ultimately, Kansas City’s defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has a bevy of young talent to work with, but also has youthful mistakes to manage and overcome. The Chiefs’ defense has been one of the slower in recent years, something that’s going to change between the draft picks and free-agent acquisitions.
If the youth such as McDuffie, Karlaftis, Bolton, Gay, Chenal, Reid and fellow safety and second-round pick Bryan Cook can catch on quickly and contribute, Kansas City could be more dangerous than ever.
If not, the Chiefs will once again look to Patrick Mahomes and his charges to be the engine in a Super Bowl run.