Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp 2017 Preview: Inside Linebackers

Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Jason Hanna/Getty Images)
Kansas City Chiefs. (Photo by Jason Hanna/Getty Images) /
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Kansas City Chiefs ILB Justin March-Lillard
Kansas City Chiefs Inside linebacker Justin March-Lillard. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images) /

Kansas City Chiefs Training Camp Preview

Justin March-Lillard – Inside Linebacker

The spot next to Derrick Johnson has long been known to Kansas City Chiefs fans as the “thumper” in the defense. Essentially, this is the guy who attacks downhill in an effort to hold up offensive linemen in their tracks to keep a hole from opening for the ball carrier. It’s a job that is currently up in the air for the Chiefs, but Justin March-Lillard should be the front-runner.

Ever since becoming a fan favorite at training camp in 2015, Justin March-Lillard has been a guy everyone is just waiting on to put it all together. He’s a natural when it comes to attacking downhill, often shedding the blocker to make a play himself. It’s enough to have caught the eye of the coaching staff as March-Lillard got the starting job last season.

However, there are some concerns. Justin March-Lillard doesn’t have the traditional “thumper” build. He’s a little smaller than most in that role. That actually leads into the other concern, which is his health and ability to hold up in that job for a whole season. Those will be things to take into consideration.

If you’re just going on pure talent though, Justin March-Lillard is clearly the best player for this role in the Chiefs defense. He’s got a great first step to get up on the blocker quickly, and he understands how to use leverage. His ability to shed the blocker after contact makes him especially dangerous here. He will be tough to beat out.


I think the Kansas City Chiefs have already identified Justin March-Lillard as the “thumper” of the future. Sometimes guys just take to a role extremely well, and that seems to be the case here. This will be a tight competition though. I just don’t know that anyone else on the roster can match what March-Lillard brings to the table in this role.