Defense (26 Total)
The defense returned a lot of players as well, but will still look considerably more different from last season than the offense will. Also, we have to remember that Pennel and Breeland will be starting off the season suspended, so we will discuss their replacements below.
Defensive Ends (6)
Starters: Frank Clark, Tanoh Kpassagnon
Depth: Alex Okafor, Taco Charlton, Mike Danna, Breeland Speaks
Practice Squad (2): Demone Harris, Tim Ward
This seems like a lot of defensive ends, but there is just too much talent to cut this group down any further, and with Pennel missing the first few games the defensive ends may have to slide in to provide depth there.
Typically, four or five defensive ends are sufficient, but Danna has reportedly been a surprise out of training camp playing really well and working a lot with the twos. He was a practice squad candidate early on, but has forced his way onto the 55-man roster conversation even in an overflowing position group
Battling with Danna for the last defensive end spot is Speaks and Harris. Speaks has had a pretty underwhelming career so far, but he came into camp in shape this season and looks like a guy that the Chiefs are going to want to give one last shot. I think he gets a roster spot and Harris heads back to the practice squad.
The top four were pretty much set in stone, but the surprise is that it appears that Kpassagnon, not Okafor, is in line for the starting duties opposite Clark. Kpassagnon might have to rotate inside more early on with Pennel’s suspension, however, opening up more snaps for others at defensive end. The depth at defensive end appears to be a big strength for this Chiefs defense this season.
Defensive Tackles (4)
Starters: Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi
Depth: Khalen Saunders, Tershawn Wharton
Suspended: Mike Pennel (two games)
Wharton, an undrafted free agent signed by the Chiefs earlier this offseason from the small local school of Missouri S&T, is looking like a roster lock as reported by James Palmer. Here I gave Wharton the second practice squad call up spot. It remains to be seen if he stays on the roster passed the first two games, but for now he replaces Pennel until his suspension is over.
Other than Wharton there no surprises here, the position group remains the same as it was last season.