Why KC Chiefs could go defensive tackle in the first round

The Kansas City Chiefs have the last pick in the first round of the NFL draft. Could they target a defensive tackle in the first round?

Now that fans of the Kansas City Chiefs have had a few weeks to get used to the feeling of being Super Bowl champions (again), the focus of many fans has now fully shifted to the NFL offseason. How is their salary cap situation looking? Do they need to spend big money on re-signing their own free agents? Are there potential big-name free agents that will be available that the Chiefs should consider signing? And my favorite offseason question of all: who might the Chiefs consider drafting in the 2023 NFL Draft?

A lot could change in the two months between this being written and the 2023 NFL Draft, but as things stand today, the Chiefs have four major areas that must be addressed before next season. The first is offensive tackle where both of their starters, Orlando Brown Jr. and Andrew Wylie are set to be free agents. The second is wide receiver where JuJu Smith-Schuster, Mecole Hardman, and Justin Watson will hit the market, too. On the defensive side of the ball, the focus is once again on defensive end where the Chiefs will lose Carlos Dunlap and will have to do something (release or restructure or extension) with Frank Clark.

Those three positions seem to dominate the talk when it comes to K.C.’s offseason. While I don’t dispute the needs in those three areas, it seems like people are overlooking how much of a need the defensive tackle position is right now. As of today, the only defensive tackle under contract for next season is Chris Jones. Khalen Saunders, Derrick Nnadi, Turk Wharton, and Brandon Williams are all set to be free agents as I write this.

Just to set the record straight, I am not predicting or advocating for the Chiefs to draft a defensive tackle in the first round, but I do think that it is a possibility. If the Chiefs were to address the other positions of need by re-signing their own players and/or bringing in new free agents, they could absolutely look to draft a defensive tackle early. General manager Brett Veach also talks about “pockets” in the draft, meaning they look at where the drop off at a position is. If Veach thinks the drop at positions like tackle, edge, or wide receiver won’t happen until later in the draft but believes there are only a few difference-makers at defensive tackle, it could push him in that direction on draft day.

So as the NFL combine looks to get started this week, here are a few names you may want to keep an eye on in case the Chiefs do look to address the position early in the draft. Let’s start with a quick look at the guys who are probably out of K.C.’s range.

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