Training camp is inching closer to us every second that passes. That being said, there are a ton of conversations ahead of training camp; this includes positional battles, who’s making the roster, etc. Moreover, one group stands above all else in terms of conversation within the KC Chiefs organizations. That group is none other than the defensive end group.
With the signing of Okafor and the whole Frank Clark situation, it’s interesting to see what will happen as training camp starts. Now, let’s dive in and examine what we have cooking ahead of training camp for the Chiefs’ defensive ends:
Frank Clark Participating
You know, I thought that Clark would sit out with the whole legal process and everything, but the fact he is on the field practicing came as a bit of a shock. As reported by Fox 4, Frank Clark will participate in training camp. Andy Reid stated, “Frank will be here. We’ll go forward with that. Obviously, we keep tabs on it”. Clark has been arrested twice this offseason; both were due to illegal possession of a weapon, and one time when the weapons were loaded.
Now, this truly doesn’t mean much at all concerning his legal case. Clark is practicing now, but if he is found guilty, we have to say goodbye to him varying on how long. Oh, and a suspension will probably be added on too.
So, please don’t get too drawn into this. I’m glad he’s practicing as he’s practically needed on that d-line; however, if he serves jail time, we have to look at our other options.
Chris Jones Flexing Out To DE
Our absolute star on the defensive line, Chris Jones, has decided to flex between the interior and exterior part of the d-line this season. Pretty much, wherever he is plugged in, he will shine; moreover, he will in fact dominate at DE. In addition to his impressive ability at DT, Jones had his best year at RDE; this is when he 15.5 sacks and was snubbed of Pro Bowl honors, breaking the NFL record for most consecutive games with a sack (11).
Now, as 2019 came around, so did the talent at DE. Jones told reporters, “I came in the league originally a D-end, it was just, unfortunately, we had guys that excelled at that level when I came in, as Justin Houston and Dee Ford,” so he had to move into the interior side.
With that said, Jones still has a lot a bit to work on as he’s transitioning to another position yet again. He states that he needs to work on his technique; but, judging by past production, I’d say he’ll do a fantastic job at defensive end just like he did in 2018. Who knows, maybe he’ll get All-Pro honors again.
Taco And Alex; Two Players Fighting For A Starting Spot
Varying on what’s happening with Frank Clark and if Jones will be placed as a starting DE for the start of 2021, two players are fighting for a starting spot. These two players are Taco Charlton and Alex Okafor.
Charlton had a solid year before he was placed on IR with a fractured ankle in Week 11. In 90 defensive snaps, Charlton had seven total tackles, four QB hits, two sacks, and a forced fumble. He was a force disrupting the pass, causing six QB pressures, two QB hurries, and two QB knockdowns in those 90 snaps. He’s a force that will get more playing time this year; however, he must stay healthy this season. He could start on either side of the d-line as he has experience at both.
Okafor is a veteran talent who was just recently resigned by the Chiefs amid the Clark controversy. Okafor is a solid eight-year vet, who in 26% of defensive snaps had 16 total tackles, ten QB hits, three sacks, and a forced fumble. He was a solid pass rusher too, forced four QB hurries, six QB knockdowns, and 15 pressures. He provides good depth to a core that desperately needs it. Okafor has a shot at the starting job, but he needs to beat out Charlton and Danna; moreover, it also varies on the whole Clark scenario. This will be fun to watch moving forward.
Others Looking For A Shot On the 53-Man Roster
Of course, with the starters come the backups and others looking to make the final roster. Mike Danna looks primed for Year Two after having a 25 tackle, 2.5 sack season after only playing 31% of defensive snaps in 2020. He looks to continue to develop once training camp begins. He is a dark horse for a starting role; nevertheless, if he doesn’t get it, he looks to be a consistent performer on that defensive line.
Joshua Kaindoh is a prospect with a lot of upside; he was taken with the Chiefs’ fourth-round pick in this year’s draft. He has a great pass rush repertoire and he has good moves as a run stopper, specifically in his size, functional strength, and length. However, he is developmental for a reason; Kaindoh is not a consistent performer. He has his flashes but also has his fair share of falters in his play. He’ll be a backup this season unless he impresses greatly.
Tim Ward, Malik Herring, and Austin Edwards are three UDFAs, fighting to make the roster as a backup. Out of these three, Ward is the only one that has started an NFL game. It was the only game he played in, totaling five tackles, two QB hits, and a sack. He looks to impress coaches at training camp; he has the best shot to make the roster out of the three mentioned.
Herring is a 6’3″, 280-pound prospect out of Georgia. At this moment, we won’t see him in action as he has been placed on injury designation. Edwards is a two-year vet who has only played one NFL snap. He will continue to develop this training camp with a high possibility to be placed on the practice squad.