QB Chad Henne, WR Sammy Watkins, NT Xavier Williams, LB Anthony Hitchens, CB David Amerson, CB Kendall Fuller, S Robert Golden.
Early Draft Picks:
DE Breeland Speaks, NT Derrick Nnadi, LB Dorian O'Daniel, S Armani Watts. Chiefs Rookie Forecast Offseason Losses:
QB Alex Smith, WR Albert Wilson, G Zach Fulton, NT Bennie Logan, DE/OLB Tamba Hali, DE/OLB Dee Ford, DE/OLB Dadi Nicolas, ILB Derrick Johnson, ILB Kevin Pierre-Louis, CB Marcus Peters, CB Terrance Mitchell, CB Darrelle Revis, CB Phillip Gaines, S Ron Parker, S Steven Terrell.
2018 Kansas City Chiefs Offense:
The media will say that the Chiefs have regressed because they've traded Alex Smith. The media is wrong. Patrick Mahomes, unlike Smith, is capable of leading a team without an otherworldly defense deep into the playoffs. Smith was too limited of a quarterback to do so, while Mahomes is supremely gifted. He has a great arm and dynamic scrambling ability. On top of that, he has plus intelligence and a gritty work ethic. He played well in the 2017 season finale against the Broncos. Mahomes has been outstanding in practice, so Andy Reid believed it was time to hand Mahomes the reins.
Mahomes offers the Chiefs much more upside as far as downfield throwing ability is concerned, so Reid knew he needed to give his young quarterback another speedy threat. That's exactly what he did when he signed Sammy Watkins in free agency. A former top-five draft pick, Watkins hasn't lived up to his potential most seasons because he has dealt with a plethora of injuries. Watkins disappointed last year for a different reason, as he just didn't have good chemistry with Jared Goff. Watkins has the talent to rebound, and that should occur with Mahomes, who will likely be the newest of the long line of quarterbacks who have thrived under Reid's guidance.
Even if Watkins turns out to be a bust signing, the Chiefs still have Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce as dynamic weapons. Both were very productive last year, and they could be even better in 2018 because Watkins will command attention from opposing defenses. Just look at what Robert Woods was able to accomplish for the Rams last year because of Watkins' presence.
The Chiefs should continue to boast a strong ground attack as well. Kareem Hunt, a third-round rookie last year, rushed for 1,327 yards. He also helped in the passing game, hauling in 53 passes for 455 receiving yards. Reid told the media this offseason that he plans on involving Hunt even more in the passing attack, which seems like a great idea.
If there's one concern with Kansas City's offense, it's the blocking unit. The line isn't horrible, but there are some liabilities on it. Left tackle Eric Fisher has been a pedestrian blind-side protector for years, and he will continue to be one. Left guard Bryan Witzmann is even worse. It was disappointing that the Chiefs didn't address the left side of their line this offseason.
Fortunately for Kansas City, the rest of the line seems pretty decent. Center Mitch Morse had a rough 2017 campaign, but only because he dealt with a nagging foot injury that sidelined him for nine games. Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz is excellent, while right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff is solid as well, though he'll need to be healthier in 2018, as he missed five games last year with a knee problem.
2018 Kansas City Chiefs Defense:
Alex Smith wasn't the only prominent Chief veteran to depart this offseason. Kansas City lost a number of players on this side of the ball, including Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Marcus Peters. While Johnson and Hali are nearing the end of their careers, Peters is still in his prime. Because of this, Kansas City is widely considered to be inferior on this side of the ball in 2018.
Once again, the consensus is wrong. In fact, the Chiefs' secondary should be even better in 2018 for two reasons. First, cornerback Kendall Fuller was acquired in the Smith trade. Fuller is an excellent slot cornerback, so he'll fill a huge need Kansas City had. Second, Eric Berry will be returning from injury. When everyone previously saw Berry, he was doing a great job of putting the clamps on Rob Gronkowski in Kansas City's surprise upset of the Patriots in the 2017 opener. Berry was knocked out for the year with a torn Achilles. The silver lining is that this injury occurred so early in the season that Berry is expected to be ready by Week 1. That's obviously fantastic news because Berry is one of the top players at his position. His presence alone will bolster the defensive backfield.
Rounding out the secondary are cornerbacks Steve Nelson and David Amerson, and safety Eric Murray. Nelson is a sub-par player, but not a complete liability. Amerson happens to be more interesting. He's a very talented player, but has been incredibly inconsistent throughout his career. Perhaps he'll have a resurgeance in Kansas City, now that he'll be coached up. Murray, meanwhile, is entering his third year as a former fourth-round pick. He'll need to fend off fourth-round rookie Armani Watts, and he will not be able to do this based on how he performed last year.
The Chiefs were miserable against the run in 2017, especially in the second half of the season. They've taken some precautions to prevent that from happening again. They acquired two nose tackles in the offseason, signing Xavier Williams away from the Cardinals and then spending a third-round pick on Florida State's Derrick Nnadi. Both specialize in stuffing the rush, so Kansas City's ground defense is bound to improve. Williams/Nnadi will start alongside Chris Jones and Allen Bailey on the front line. While Bailey is a mediocre player, Jones is the top performer of the group. He excels in both run support and the pass rush.
Continuing with the theme of an upgraded interior, Kansas City signed former Cowboys linebacker Anthony Hitchens to a 5-year, $45 million contract. Just 26, Hitchens has a bright future ahead of him. He played extremely well last season, so he should be a proper replacement for Johnson. He'll start next to Reggie Ragland, a decent two-down linebacker.
While Peters and Johnson were replaced, the same can't be said for Hali. The Chiefs will have a lacking edge rush outside of the dynamic Justin Houston, as the disappointing Dee Ford and pedestrian Frank Zombo will compete for snaps. Kansas City will be hoping that 2017 second-rounder Tanoh Kpassagnon will contribute, but he's a long-term project and may not be ready.
2018 Kansas City Chiefs Schedule and Intangibles:
The Chiefs needed to bring back the Arrowhead magic that existed prior to 2007. Since that year, Kansas City was a dreadful 20-37 as a host, heading into the 2014 campaign. However, Kansas City is now 24-10 at Arrowhead over the past four seasons. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, one of those losses was the defeat against the Titans in the opening round of the playoffs this past year.
Andy Reid had poor special-teams units in Philadelphia after John Harbaugh left for Baltimore. That was not the case the past five years for the Chiefs, as they've combined for 10 return touchdowns. They scored four the past two seasons, thanks to Tyreek Hill.
Kicker Cairo Santos was replaced by Harrison Butker because of an injury. Butker was able to maintain the job because he went 38-of-42 on his field goals, hitting 4-of-5 from 50-plus. He didn't miss a single extra point.
Pro Bowler Dustin Colquitt was 11th in net punting average in 2013 and moved up to eighth the season after. He held that spot in 2015, though he dropped to 12th in 2016 and 2017. However, he's a master at pinning the opposition inside the 20.
The Chiefs have a tough schedule to start, as five of their initial six opponents are expected to compete for a playoff spot (Chargers, Steelers, 49ers, Jaguars, Patriots.) The good news for them is that things get easier after that with a four-game stretch against the Bengals (home), Broncos (home), Browns (road) and Cardinals (home).
2018 Kansas City Chiefs Rookies:
Go here for the Chiefs Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.
2018 Kansas City Chiefs Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
2018 Kansas City Chiefs Analysis: The Chiefs have a good chance to go the distance this year. Their defense will be improved because of Eric Berry's return and the additions the front office made. Plus, Patrick Mahomes is a likely upgrade at quarterback. He has the ability to lead Kansas City to a Super Bowl victory as early as this season.
Projection: 11-5 (1st in AFC West)
2017 Projection: 11-5. 2017 Actual Result: 10-6. 2016 Projection: 10-6. 2016 Actual Result: 12-4.
Goals Entering the 2018 NFL Draft: Thanks to the Patrick Mahomes trade, the Chiefs don't pick until No. 54. The good news is that they have three picks on Day 2, so they can add some talented players to plug their biggest needs, which include cornerback, inside linebacker and edge rusher.
2018 NFL Draft Accomplishments: John Dorsey took a job with the Browns, and his absence was very apparent. Kansas City has drafted well with Dorsey, but this was certainly a step backward.
The Chiefs had three second-day choices, yet they didn't make a quality selection prior to Saturday. They began by trading up for defensive end Breeland Speaks in the second round despite the fact that Speaks was widely considered to be a third-round prospect. Nose tackle Derrick Nnadi, the next pick, was a reach, yet that was nothing compared to Dorian O'Daniel, chosen at the very bottom of Round 3. The sub-package linebacker probably should have been chosen in the fifth frame.
Kansas City made some decent selections during the third day, including safety Armani Watts. However, this won't save the Chiefs from earning a poor grade. They ignored their needs until the 100th-overall pick, and they made numerous reaches. It could be argued that they came away with one of the worst classes in the entire 2018 NFL Draft, rivaling what the Seahawks did.
NFL Draft Individual Grades:
46. Breeland Speaks, DE/DT, Ole Miss D Grade
Someone tweeted out that the Chiefs traded up for Christian Kirk. I liked that pick a lot more! Speaks is a Round 3 prospect, so why did the Chiefs think they needed to move up for him? Was Andy Reid just bored, or did he want to go out for a quick bite to eat in between selections? I don't get it. Speaks should be a solid rotational defensive lineman for Kansas City, but he's not worth moving up for.
75. Derrick Nnadi, NT, Florida State C Grade
The Chiefs are making some Go-Go Gadget reaches here on Day 2. Derrick Nnadi is a stout run-stuffer, but that's all he is. He probably should have been selected early on Day 3. This pick isn't a great one, but I can understand why Kansas City made this move.
100. Dorian O'Daniel, LB, Clemson C Grade
Dorian O'Daniel should be able to cover well if he plays on defense, but he'll have trouble tackling and shedding blocks. O'Daniel's strength should be special teams. So, as you can tell, the Chiefs reached with this choice. I had O'Daniel in the fifth round, so the Chiefs could've obtained him or a comparable player later.
124. Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M B+ Grade
The Chiefs' defense was completely lost last year when Eric Berry got hurt. They needed better depth at safety, and Armani Watts could eventually develop into a starter. Watts could've gone a bit earlier than this, so I like the value.
196. Tremon Smith, CB, Central Arkansas B Grade
This pick is a pretty logical one, as Tremon Smith moved into sixth-round consideration after a strong showing at his pro day, which included a 4.34 40. Kansas City had to add another cornerback to fix the depth problems at the position.
198. Khalil McKenzie, DT, Tennessee B Grade
Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie will have to battle his son twice per year. The younger McKenzie is a run-stuffing nose tackle, and it's not a surprise that the Chiefs opted for him at this spot, given their struggles versus the rush.
Another year, another disappointing playoff performance from Andy Reid. So much more was expected from the Chiefs after they started 5-0, which included an upset win in New England, but by the end of the year, they did not have Eric Berry or Travis Kelce on the field.
Chiefs sign S Robert Golden
Chiefs sign RB Damien Williams
Chiefs sign NT Xavier Williams
Chiefs sign QB Chad Henne
Chiefs sign LB Anthony Hitchens
Chiefs sign WR Sammy Watkins
Chiefs cut DE/OLB Tamba Hali
Chiefs cut S Ron Parker
Rams acquire CB Marcus Peters from Chiefs
Chiefs sign CB David Amerson
Traded Alex Smith to Redskins
Cornerback: The Chiefs need to prioritize their poor defense this offseason. The primary source of their struggles is in the secondary, as they have no talent at cornerback aside from Marcus Peters. They were desperate enough to try Darrelle Revis, but that experiment failed miserably. Traded for Kendall Fuller; signed David Amerson
Edge Rusher: An improvement in the pass rush must be obtained as well. The Chiefs won't have anything outside of Justin Houston if Dee Ford, who struggled in 2017, hits free agency. Tamba Hali won't be around much longer either.
Guard: Kansas City needs to make a couple of changes to the offensive line. One is at guard, where Zach Fulton is an impending free agent. Another guard must be acquired to go along with Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
Wide Receiver: The Chiefs could use a second receiver to play across from Tyreek Hill, especially with Albert Wilson heading into free agency. Signed Sammy Watkins
Left Tackle: How much longer can Kansas City stomach Eric Fisher's pedestrian play? He needed to be replaced years ago.
Nose Tackle: Bennie Logan, signed to a 1-year "prove it" deal last offseason, won't be around in 2018 if he's not retained. Signed Xavier Williams
Safety Depth: Some insurance is needed in case Eric Berry gets hurt again. Signed Robert Golden
Tight End: Yes, there's Travis Kelce, but Andy Reid loves running two-tight end offenses, and Demetrius Harris has not been getting the job done.
Backup Quarterback: With Alex Smith gone, the Chiefs will need a backup for Patrick Mahomes. Signed Chad Henne
Fullback: Anthony Sherman is an impending free agent. Re-signed Anthony Sherman
Punter: Dustin Colquitt is also set to hit the open market. Re-signed Dustin Colquitt
Sammy Watkins, WR, Rams. Age: 25. Signed with Chiefs
Sammy Watkins was a huge disappointment in 2017. Despite the Rams' offense setting franchise records, Watkins caught just 39 passes for 593 yards and eight touchdowns. Watkins is extremely talented, however, and he's still young (25 in June), so I expect him to dominate elsewhere in the near future, assuming he can stay healthy.
Anthony Hitchens, OLB, Cowboys. Age: 26. Signed with Chiefs
Anthony Hitchens has done a great job of improving his game over the years. He was solid this past season, particularly in run support. He's still young - 26 in June - so he could continue to upgrade his play.
Xavier Williams (RFA), NT, Cardinals. Age: 27. Signed with Chiefs
Xavier Williams showed major signs of improvement this past season, serving as a stout run-plugger in the interior of Arizona's defensive line. He also wasn't horrible as a pass-rusher.
David Amerson, CB, Raiders. Age: 26. Signed with Chiefs
David Amerson stopped trying after getting a $34 million contract a couple of years ago. He barely played this past season and was torched whenever he was on the field. He's only 26, however, so he could bounce back.
Chad Henne, QB, Jaguars. Age: 33. -- Signed with Chiefs
Damien Williams, RB, Dolphins. Age: 26. -- Signed with Chiefs
Robert Golden, S, Steelers. Age: 28. -- Signed with Chiefs
Kansas City Chiefs Free Agents:
Salary Cap: TBA.
Anthony Sherman, FB, Chiefs. Age: 29. Re-signed with Chiefs
Anthony Sherman used to catch more passes earlier in his career, but he's still a terrific lead blocker.
Dustin Colquitt, P, Chiefs. Age: 36. Re-signed with Chiefs (3 years, $7.5 million)
Dustin Colquitt has been ranked between eighth and 15th in net punting average in the past three years.
Dee Ford, DE/OLB, Chiefs. Age: 27.
Dee Ford recorded 10 sacks in 2016, and he looked like he was going to take a big step forward this past season. Instead, he wasn't effective at all, thanks in part to a back injury he suffered in Week 3. Perhaps Ford will rebound in 2018.
Bennie Logan, NT, Chiefs. Age: 28. Signed with Titans
Bennie Logan doesn't put much pressure on opposing quarterbacks, but he's a tremendous run defender. He did fine after signing a 1-year "prove it" deal with the Chiefs last offseason, but more was expected from him.
Derrick Johnson, ILB, Chiefs. Age: 35. Signed with Raiders
Derrick Johnson turns 36 around Thanksgiving, but he still played well this past season despite coming off one of his many injuries. Johnson is decent in coverage, so he could still start for a team for maybe another year or two.
Zach Fulton, G, Chiefs. Age: 26. Signed with Texans
Despite being a sixth-round pick in 2014, Zach Fulton started at guard all year for the Chiefs, handling himself somewhat well in pass protection. At just 26, he still has plenty of room for growth.
Terrance Mitchell, CB, Chiefs. Age: 26. Signed with Browns (3 years)
Terrance Mitchell performed well down the stretch for Kansas City in 2016, but his high level of play didn't carry over last season. Mitchell struggled, but is just 26 (in May), so he's still young enough to make strides.
Ron Parker, S, Chiefs. Age: 31. Signed with Falcons
Ron Parker had a massive dropoff in production this past season, struggling in both pass coverage and run support. This was a surprise, as he played well in 2016. Perhaps he'll rebound next year, but given that he's 31 (in August), he could just be finished.
Steven Terrell, S, Chiefs. Age: 27.
Albert Wilson, WR, Chiefs. Age: 26. -- Signed with Dolphins
Tamba Hali, DE, Chiefs. Age: 34.
Jarvis Jenkins, DE/DT, Chiefs. Age: 30. -- Re-signed with Chiefs
Ramik Wilson (RFA), ILB, Chiefs. Age: 26. -- Signed with Rams
De'Anthony Thomas, WR/KR, Chiefs. Age: 25. -- Re-signed with Chiefs
Darrelle Revis, CB, Chiefs. Age: 33.
Phillip Gaines, CB, Chiefs. Age: 27. -- Signed with Bills
Kevin Pierre-Louis, ILB, Chiefs. Age: 26. -- Signed with Jets (2 years)
Kenneth Acker, CB, Chiefs. Age: 26. -- Signed with Colts
Rakeem Nunez-Roches (RFA), DT, Chiefs. Age: 25.
Keith Reaser, CB, Chiefs. Age: 27.
Tyler Bray, QB, Chiefs. Age: 27. -- Signed with Bears