Fresh off of winning the franchise’s first Super Bowl in 50 years, Patrick Mahomes and the rest of the Chiefs are hoping to have a successful title defense in 2020. While they didn’t make a ton of moves in free agency, the Chiefs did not lose many members from last year’s championship team. Kansas City used the majority of its 2020 draft picks on the defensive side of the ball while adding two new pieces to an already explosive offensive unit. The pieces added during the offseason will each look to make an immediate impact in 2020, as the Chiefs look to become the first team in 16 years to repeat as champion.
Rookies will be denoted with a (*).
Without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
The Chiefs surprised several draft analysts by spending their first-round pick on former LSU running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who rushed for 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns while averaging 6.6 yards per carry during his final season with the Tigers. Edwards-Helaire will look to form a successful partnership with Damien Williams, who rushed for 104 yards and a score in Kansas City’s victory over San Francisco in Super Bowl LIV.
Outside of left tackle, every starting spot on the Chiefs’ offensive line is up for grabs. Lucas Niang, a third-round pick out of TCU, will look to earn playing time as a rookie behind starting left tackle Eric Fisher. Niang will also be competing with Yasir Durant, an undrafted rookie who played collegiately at Missouri.
The Chiefs’ best offensive position battle may be at center, with Austin Reiter, Nick Allegretti, and Darryl Williams each in the running to earn the starting spot. Allegretti is also competing for the team’s starting spot at left guard, along with Andrew Wylie, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Martinas Rankin.
While they definitely got stronger as the 2019 season progressed, the Chiefs’ defense still left some room for improvement after finishing 26th in run defense and 12th in the NFL in third-down efficiency last season. In the draft, the Chiefs selected former Mississippi State linebacker Willie Gay in the second round, Louisiana Tech defensive back L’Jarius Sneed in the fourth round, Michael defensive end Michael Danna in the fifth round and Tulane cornerback Thakarius Keyes in the seventh round.
The Chiefs’ biggest position battle on defense is at cornerback. Second-year cornerback Rashad Fenton will look for a bigger role after participating in about 15% of the team’s defensive snaps last season. And with Bashaud Breeland suspended for the first four games of the season, that might lead to an extra roster spot for Keyes and/or Lavert Hill.
Another player to keep an eye on is Taco Charlton, a former first-round pick who signed with the Chiefs earlier this offseason. The Chiefs are surely hoping that Charlton, who recorded a career-high five sacks in 10 games with the Dolphins last season, will benefit from being around Frank Clark, who has blossomed into one of the league’s premier defensive ends.
Harrison Butker is coming off of a 2019 season that saw him make all but four of his 38 field goal attempts 93.8% of his point-after attempts. Tyler Newsome, signed by Chiefs earlier this offseason, averaged 44 yards per punt during his four seasons at Notre Dame.
There aren’t many better returners in the league than Mecole Hardman, who averaged 9.3 yards per punt return last season. Hardman also returned one of his 27 kickoff returns for a score last year while averaging 26.1 yards per return.