The Chiefs defensive line has undergone some extreme changes, but it may end up being the best unit on the entire defense.
It’s been quite the remodel for the Kansas City Chiefs’ defense this offseason. A huge part of this overhaul has been the Chiefs’ defensive line.
Prior to free agency, things looked bleak. The Chiefs traded Dee Ford and released Justin Houston, two players who accounted for a combined 22 sacks in 2018. Only Chris Jones, arguably the best player on the lacking unit, remained from a trio of dominant pass rushers. Aside from Jones, the Chiefs’ top edge rusher appeared to be the unproven rusher, Breeland Speaks.
However, General Manager Brett Veach has put in work over the past few months in that regard. In free agency, Veach signed Alex Okafor away from the New Orleans Saints. Okafor is not an elite defender, but he is a solid defensive lineman who played his role very well for both the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans.
Veach’s next move was trading for Cleveland Browns defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah, a talented kid who didn’t pan out in his first stop.
However, the biggest acquisition for the Chiefs’ line was Frank Clark. In late April, the Chiefs acquired Clark from the Seahawks in exchange for 2019 first and 2020 second-round picks.
Many wondered why the Chiefs would give up significant draft compensation for Clark after trading away Ford. Yet some within the league felt it was an upgrade for Kansas City.
For fans, Clark is not a well-known name outside of Seattle and Kansas City, but within the league, he is widely considered one of the top five defensive linemen in the game. Unlike Ford, Clark can rush the passer in multiple ways. Rather than just speed, he can also get past the offensive lineman with power or pure technique. Also unlike Ford, Clark is skilled in stopping the run. He has the strength to set the edge and the IQ to know where the run is going.
For a moment, it seemed the Chiefs defensive line was going to be Jones and spare parts. Then Veach became aggressive and found three key pieces to make the unit a strength once again.