For a team that finished with the third-fewest sacks per game in 2021, the Chiefs have done surprisingly little to improve the edge rush position this offseason. The Chiefs were 11th in sacks during their Championship season in 2019, followed by a 19th finish in 2020. The pass rush has declined for two consecutive seasons.
In response, the Chiefs have not signed any edge rushers this offseason. They drafted George Karlaftis with the 30th overall pick in this year’s draft. The team also took measures necessary to bring back Frank Clark and Melvin Ingram (who still remains a restricted free agent).
At first glance, it seems that Kansas City has kept the status quo at the defensive end position, aside from the high-upside rookie in Karlaftis. However, some forgotten pass rushers are set to play an expanded role next season. This could be a driving factor behind the Chiefs’ confidence to return a mostly similar cast back into the fold next season.
Former ACC Standout Set To Make His Return Early For The Chiefs
The Chiefs drafted Joshua Kaindoh in the fourth round (144th overall) of the 2021 NFL Draft. In his rookie season, he appeared in just three games. In those games, he averaged 24% of snaps. It’s difficult to judge Kaindoh’s lack of rookie production. It takes time for rookies to make an impact, and his rookie season was cut short due to an injury in Week Four.
Kaindoh was a five-star recruit for Florida State before the 2017 NCAA season. In his time at Florida State, he tallied eight sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss. This production might be great over a single season, but that was his production over four seasons of work in the ACC. The lack of production caused Kaindoh’s draft stock to plummet until the Chiefs scooped him up on Day Two.
What do the Chiefs see in the young edge rusher? Kaindoh scored a 9.59 Relative Athletic Score leading up to the draft. That ranked 57th out of 1,371 defensive ends from 1987 to 2021.
Josh Kaindoh was drafted with pick 144 of round 4 in the 2021 draft class. He scored a 9.59 RAS out of a possible 10.00. This ranked 57 out of 1371 DE from 1987 to 2021. https://t.co/3f2nfXUEc0 #RAS #Chiefs pic.twitter.com/rWEvQMxEZv — Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) May 1, 2021
Without question, the production wasn’t there, but the Chiefs feel like they can develop Kaindoh and better utilize his elite athleticism. At 6-7, 262 pounds, and running a sub 4.70 40-yard dash, Kaindoh is a specimen on the outside. He returned to the Chiefs’ active roster in January 2022 from an ankle injury. With a full season under his belt, the Chiefs will give him a chance to shine at the coming OTAs. He figures to play a rotational role this season with the upside to develop into a starting contributor throughout the season.
Georgia Dominated The 2022 Draft, And A Former Bulldog Returns For The Chiefs
Malik Herring hasn’t been a headline in Chiefs news thus far into his career. Herring joined the team as an undrafted free agent after the 2021 draft. Like Kaindoh, Herring didn’t grade well entering last year’s draft. NFL.com graded Herring a 5.68, which profiled him as a “candidate for the bottom of a roster or practice squad.”
Herring carries a girthy lower body, but he lacks the prototypical build and traits at defensive end. He can beat blocks with skill and flashes occasional slipperiness in playing off of or around blocks to make tackles. He possesses decent instincts and skill as a rusher but is missing the juice to get to quarterbacks from off the edge. Lance Zierlein, NFL.com Draft Analyst
Herring, 6-3, 280 pounds, was recruited to play at Georgia as a four-star recruit out of high school. He brings raw traits but good instincts to the Chiefs’ defensive line. Different from Kaindoh, Herring had substantial production in the SEC before entering the NFL.
In 2019, Herring won the Georgia Most Improved Defensive Player Award and tallied 18 QB pressures, the third most among all defenders, according to the Georgia Bulldogs biography. He followed up that showing with an even stronger 2020 that saw him tally the second-most QB pressures (24) on the team. PFF mentioned Herring as an “ultimate glue guy” along the defensive line. He can play in any alignment or position and not look lost. There are questions remaining about his athleticism, but the instincts are there.
Nice play by Malik Herring #10 chasing down Perine on the backside. -Holds his gap and eliminates the possibility of a potential cutback -Makes Tackle for no gain. pic.twitter.com/Ey0LFNSvTV — Jåÿ🤴🏾 (@JJay_777) April 19, 2020
Herring tore his ACL at the 2020 Senior Bowl and, as a result, did not attend the NFL Combine. The injury, paired with questions about athleticism, made Herring fall. Much like Kaindoh, with a year removed from injury and finally a chance to learn in OTAs and preseason, the Chiefs hope that Herring can become a rotating piece of their pass rush.
Neither player is likely to become a superstar in the NFL, but the Chiefs seem to be confident in their ability to produce as depth for the defensive line in 2022.
What are your thoughts on where the Chiefs will finish 2022 in terms of team sack totals? Will the defense be better than last year?
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