By Andrew Crocker At this point in the offseason, it’s no secret that the Kansas City Chiefs boast one of the best depth charts in the NFL. From the offensive backfield, to the receiving corps, the offensive line, the secondary and even special teams, this is a team that has more than its fair share of fascinating depth chart battles. Such is the pleasure of rooting for a really talented football team.
Of course, I could legitimately select any number of positions as fascinating positional wars. But to me, there is no position on this team with the versatility, range of talent, and sheer potential as the players we have at the critical 3-4 defensive end position. The 3-4 end, of course, is typically a big-bodied defensive tackle-sized player whose job is to occupy as many tackles and guards as possible to free up edge rushers and linebackers to make plays.
The past two years, the Chiefs have featured a great one-two punch at the starting level with Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson. Last year they had solid additions in Allen Bailey and Amon Gordon. Their have been some other acquisitions at the position worth examining.
It’s likely the Chiefs keep five defensive ends, assuming one or two of those ends have nose tackle versatility. What I seek to do is preview each player battling at this critical position, and project what I think the 2012 depth chart is going to look like.
Glenn Dorsey (6’1″, 297): The 5th overall selection of the 2008 NFL Draft, Dorsey has disappeared in a small market franchise playing a thankless position with relatively zippo media attention. The rap on him is old news to people who follow the Chiefs religiously: his run defense is sterling (he’s the best in the league, per PFF), his pass rushing is nonexistant. That’s about the best you can expect from somebody who was never built to play this kind of defense — he was built to play a completely different defense, the 4-3 Tampa Two. But Dorsey’s ability to shut down the run guarantees him a starting spot all season, even if it is for only two downs.
Dorsey is in the last year of his rookie contract. Under normal circumstances, I’d say the Chiefs are more than willing to let Dorsey walk in free agency. As brilliantly as he plays those first two downs, some 4-3 defense that he’s better suited for will want to play him for three downs. Therefore, his value (contract wise) will attract bigger contracts from 4-3 teams than it could from a team like us who can’t afford to pay a two-down plugger the 5 year, $45 to $55 million deal he’ll likely get in free agency.
However, the Chiefs are likely in the last year of the Matt Cassel Experiment. And if it goes how we all expect it to, we’ll be in the hunt for one of the several QB studs coming out in next year’s draft. It will likely take us multiple draft picks to grab the one we want, making it unlikely we’ll have the second- or even third-rounders necessary to replace a starting DE like Dorsey — and it’s not clear that Allen Bailey is up to the task just yet. The worse Bailey plays this season, the more desperate we’ll be to keep Dorsey in Kansas City.
So I’d expect extensive talks between Dorsey and the Chiefs this year, then, to extend him during the season before free agency ever arrives. It might not go anywhere — I’m betting it won’t, since Dorsey, like Brandon Carr from this year, knows he’ll make more on the free market with multiple teams bidding on him. The Chiefs can’t franchise him either, as they’ll likely be franchising LT Branden Albert instead.
Tyson Jackson (6’4″, 296): Much of what was said in the first paragraph about Dorsey can be said about Jackson, except that Jackson’s talents are tailor-made for this defense. He is a powerful, athletic, long-as-hell defensive lineman who tackles cannot move off the ball. Unlike Dorsey, he doesn’t even occasionally create plays. He exists to do his job and do it so well you will almost never hear his name called — but make no mistake: Jackson’s leaps forward these past couple years are the reason linebackers like Derrick Johnson and Justin Houston tears stuff up these days. Jackson will start across from Dorsey.
To continue reading this article and to find out more about the remaining Chiefs defensive lineman, head over to arrowheadaddict.com.