2023 NFL Offseason: Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs (Last Year: 14-3)

2023 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Blaine Gabbert, WR Richie James, OT Jawaan Taylor, OT Donovan Smith, DE Charles Omenihu, LB Drue Tranquill, S Mike Edwards.
Early Draft Picks:
DE Felix Anudike-Uzomah, WR Rashee Rice, OT Wanya Morris, S/CB Chamarri Connor, DE B.J. Thompson. Chiefs Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Chad Henne, RB Ronald Jones, FB Michael Burton, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR Mecole Hardman, OT Orlando Brown, OT Andrew Wylie, DE Carlos Dunlap, DE Frank Clark, DT Khalen Saunders, NT Derrick Nnadi, S Juan Thornhill.

2023 Kansas City Chiefs Offense:
Much was made of Tyreek Hill’s departure last offseason, and for good reason. Hill is one of the most explosive players in the NFL, yet all the Chiefs could do to replace him was obtain the regressing JuJu Smith-Schuster and the inconsistent Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Given the diminished receiving corps, the Chiefs saw their Super Bowl odds inflate from the usual 6/1 or 7/1 all the way up to 12/1. Many public bettors did not give Kansas City much of a chance to win the Super Bowl.

Obviously, they were proven wrong. Patrick Mahomes was able to register a career-high 5,250 passing yards to go along with 41 touchdown passes and only 12 interceptions. He completed 67.1 percent of his passes, which was also a career-best. Mahomes didn’t skip a beat without Hill, as he relied heavily on Travis Kelce, who also posted career-high figures. He did so via receptions (110), yards (1,338) and receiving touchdowns (12). Kelce turns 34 in October, so there’s some concern that he will decline due to age.

If Kelce regresses, Mahomes will need to lean more on his receiving corps. Smith-Schuster is gone, but he will not be missed very much because Kadarius Toney and Richie James can fill his shoes quite well. Toney is a recent first-round pick with explosive ability, but hasn’t been able to stay healthy. James, conversely, is a reliable slot receiver. If Toney can remain on the field, these two receivers will work nicely with Mahomes, who will still be throwing to Valdes-Scantling as well. Skyy Moore and Rashee Rice, chosen in the second rounds of the two previous drafts, will have an opportunity to produce, though Moore barely accomplished anything last year.

Like last offseason, the Chiefs will need to replace a big name. This year, that would be Orlando Brown. The talented left tackle signed with the Bengals, so Kansas City acquired Jawaan Taylor as a replacement. Taylor has been a right tackle for the Jaguars, so it was unclear if he would be a viable blind-side protector. This was resolved when long-time Buccaneers left tackle Donovan Smith was signed as well to seemingly replace the departed Andrew Wylie at right tackle. However, it was announced that Smith would be the team’s left tackle, while Taylor would man the right side, which makes more sense. Smith was a dominant player for several seasons in Tampa Bay, but is coming off a down year in which he endured some injuries.

The Chiefs have excellent interior blocking to make up for any mishaps on the edge. Joe Thuney and Trey Smith are a tremendous guard tandem, while Creed Humphrey, entering his third season, has emerged as one of the top centers in the NFL.

Kansas City’s great blocking obviously bodes well for the running game. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was the presumed starter heading into 2022, but seventh-round rookie Isiah Pacheco supplanted him. Pacheco rushed for 830 yards on a 4.9 yards-per-carry average. He looked stellar versus the Eagles in the Super Bowl, rumbling for 76 yards and a touchdown on just 15 attempts.

2023 Kansas City Chiefs Defense:
While Patrick Mahomes received most of the credit for winning the Super Bowl with a diminished receiving corps last year, he wouldn’t have done so had his defense not stepped up in the second half of the season. The stop unit surrendered 24.6 points per game prior to the Week 8 bye, but then improved that figure to 19.6 following the bye and leading up to the Super Bowl, which was a shootout against the high-powered Eagles.

The reason for the improvement in the second half of the season can be explained by the improved play of the young players on the roster. This includes both first-round picks from the 2022 NFL Draft. Defensive end George Karlaftis had a slow start to his career, but logged 5.5 sacks in his final seven games. The Chiefs had to rely heavily on the blitz to generate pressure on opposing passers earlier in the year, but Karlaftis’ emergence changed that. The Chiefs will be hoping for something similar from 2023 first-round edge rusher Felix Anudike-Uzomah. The two will sandwich Chris Jones, who continues to be one of the top defensive tackles in the NFL.

Kansas City’s other first-round rookie, Trent McDuffie, didn’t even play in the first half of the season because of an injury. The talented cornerback joined the lineup following the bye and was a tremendous upgrade in the slot. He and L’Jarius Sneed formed a great duo, while the other corner spot saw a mediocre rotation between Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams.

Kansas City’s secondary will have one departure, and that was to talented safety Juan Thornhill. He’ll be missed unless 2022 second-round pick Bryan Cook can fill his shoes well. Cook presumably will start next to Justin Reid, who performed well last year.

While Thornhill was a departure from the middle of Kansas City’s defense, linebacker Drue Tranquill was an addition. Tranquill struggles to tackle sometimes, but does well in coverage otherwise. He’ll be a sub-package player to go along with the talented linebacking duo of Nick Bolton and Willie Gay Jr. Bolton has really blossomed since being chosen in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

2023 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 65-21 at Arrowhead over the past eight seasons. This includes the six victories in the playoffs leading up to Super Bowls LIV, LV, and LVII.

Harrison Butker is coming off a down year in which he was 18-of-24. Most of his misses came from beyond 50 (3-of-7). He also whiffed on three extra points.

Punter Tommy Townsend ranked in the middle of the pack as far as pinning the opposition inside the 20, but he led the NFL in net average.

The Chiefs reside in a very difficult division, but their schedule isn’t as bad as the Broncos, Chargers or Raiders’ because they don’t have to play themselves. They have some very difficult non-divisional foes on the slate like the Eagles, Bills, Bengals, Dolphins, Jets, and Lions, but they also get to take on the likes of the Packers, Patriots, Vikings, and Bears.

2023 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.

2023 Kansas City Chiefs Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2023 Kansas City Chiefs Analysis: No one will be doubting the Chiefs again. In fact, they are the favorites to win the Super Bowl this season. The young and improving defense will certainly help the Chiefs make a run at another title, and as long as Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid are teamed up, the Chiefs will have a great chance to claim the Lombardi Trophy at the end of the year.

Projection: 13-4 (1st in AFC West)

2022 Projection: 11-6. 2022 Actual Result: 13-4.
2021 Projection: 16-1. 2021 Actual Result: 12-5.
2020 Projection: 13-3. 2020 Actual Result: 14-2.
2019 Projection: 13-3. 2019 Actual Result: 12-4.
2018 Projection: 11-5. 2018 Actual Result: 12-4.
2017 Projection: 11-5. 2017 Actual Result: 10-6.
2016 Projection: 10-6. 2016 Actual Result: 12-4.

2023 Fantasy Football Rankings

More 2023 NFL Season Previews

NFL Draft Team Grade: C Grade

Goals Entering the 2023 NFL Draft: Coming off a Super Bowl victory, the Chiefs need to add the best players possible in order to repeat. They specifically need a receiver to replace JuJu Smith-Schuster, and a right tackle to go along with newly acquired Jawaan Taylor.

2023 NFL Draft Accomplishments: No one should be surprised that Andy Reid addressed the pass rush with two of his first three selections. Felix Anudike-Uzomah was a bit strange, however, given that the Chiefs used last year’s first-round pick on an edge rusher, so re-signing both him and George Karlaftis could be a headache in a few years. Still, the Kansas State product will help the team win now, which is important. The same can be said of third-rounder Wanya Morris, who could claim the right tackle job as a rookie.

I gave both the Anudike-Uzomah and Morris selections grades in the “B” range, but I wasn’t as high on the Chiefs’ other picks. Kansas City reached a bit on Rashee Rice in the second round when there were better receivers available. Fourth-rounder Chamarri Connor was also a major reach.

Aside from the Morris pick, none of the Chiefs’ seven selections scored higher than a B-. Then again, nothing was graded worse than a C-. This appears to be a rather sub-par draft class for Kanas City.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

31. Felix Anudike-Uzomah, DE, Kansas State – B- Grade
No one should be shocked that the Chiefs selected a pass rusher in the first round. With Joe Burrow and Josh Allen present in the AFC, the Chiefs need to make sure they get as much pressure on the quarterback as possible, and Felix Anudike-Uzomah is a talented player. I had him in the second frame, but I don’t think this is too much of a reach. That said, re-signing him and Geroge Karlaftis is going to be a headache in the future.

55. Rashee Rice, WR, SMU – C- Grade
The Chiefs traded up, so they must have gone after one of the Tennessee receivers. Apparently not. Rashee Rice projects as a solid No. 2 receiver in the NFL, unlike Jalin Hyatt. Given how many talented receivers were still available, I don’t know why Kansas City thought it had to trade up, especially for this player.

92. Wanya Morris, OT, Oklahoma – B+ Grade
The need is obvious, as the Chiefs lost both of their tackles this offseason. They obtained Jawaan Taylor, but still needed a tackle. Wanya Morris makes sense as a third-round pick. He’s very athletic for the position, but needs to get stronger.

119. Chamarri Connor, S/CB, Virginia Tech – C- Grade
I don’t get why the Chiefs traded up for Chamarri Connor, when he should have been available late in the draft. However, he fills a need, as the Chiefs lost Juan Thornhill this offseason. Connor is a solid in run support.

166. B.J. Thompson, DE, Stephen F. Austin – B- Grade
Adding to the pass rush makes sense, given the high-octane passing attacks in the AFC. B.J. Thompson was a highly productive pass rusher at Stephen F. Austin, but we’ll have to see if he can perform better against far superior competition.

194. Keondre Coburn, NT, Texas – C+ Grade
Keondre Coburn is not someone I had in my mocks because there is concern with him being able to keep his weight under control. He has potential as a solid run stuffer, however.

250. Nic Jones, CB, Ball State – B- Grade
Nic Jones is a high-effort player with very limited upside. I’d rather have someone with more potential here, but Jones can be a very good special teams player.

Season Summary:
The consensus opinion heading into the season was that the Chiefs would regress a bit because they lost Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins. This did not happen, as Mahomes enjoyed an MVP-caliber season, leading his team to the No. 1 seed in the AFC. The Chiefs ultimately advanced to the Super Bowl to battle Philadelphia.

Offseason Moves:
  • Chiefs sign OT Donovan Smith
  • Chiefs sign QB Blaine Gabbert
  • Chiefs sign WR Richie James
  • Chiefs sign S Mike Edwards
  • Chiefs sign LB Drue Tranquill
  • Chiefs sign DE Charles Omenihu
  • Chiefs sign OT Jawaan Taylor

    Team Needs:
    1. Wide Receiver: Kansas City’s offense was less explosive this past season because of Tyreek Hill’s departure. A new No. 1 receiver is needed. Signed Richie James

    2. Defensive Tackle: Chris Jones is elite, but the Chiefs don’t have much else at the position. They need someone better next to Jones to help against the run.

    3. Cornerback: The Chiefs tend to be weak against the pass. They have some solid cornerbacks, but could use another one to bolster their aerial defense.

    4. Running Back: Isiah Pacheco is a mediocre runner, while Clyde Edwards-Helaire has been a big disappointment. Kansas City could spend an early draft pick on a running back.

    5. Linebacker: Linebacker has been a weakness for the Chiefs for quite some time. Willie Gay Jr. is a solid player, and Leo Chenal has some potential, but there’s not much else at the position. Signed Drue Tranquill

    6. Edge Rusher: The Chiefs could stand to add another edge rusher so they don’t have to blitz as often. Signed Charles Omenihu

    7. Safety: Juan Thornhill is Kansas City’s top defensive free agent, so he’ll need to be re-signed or replaced. Signed Mike Edwards

    8. Right Tackle: Andrew Wylie was the weak point of Kansas City’s offensive line. He’s about to enter free agency anyway. Signed Jawaan Taylor

    9. Backup Quarterback: Chad Henne has retired, so the Chiefs need a new backup. Signed Blaine Gabbert

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2023 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Donovan Smith, OT, Buccaneers. Age: 30.
      Signed with Chiefs

      Donovan Smith had been playing on a Pro Bowl level for the Buccaneers until this past season. He struggled in 2022, but was dealing with an elbow injury. He’ll turn 30 this spring, so he could rebound with some strong years in the future.

    2. Drue Tranquill, LB, Chargers. Age: 28.
      Signed with Chiefs (1 year)

      Drue Tranquill has evolved into a quality linebacker. He’s great in coverage, but tends to get beat up in run support.

    3. Richie James, WR, Giants. Age: 27.
      Signed with Chiefs

      Richie James wasn’t really the No. 1 receiver last year because he played in the slot, but he was the best-performing receiver all last year. James had some high-reception games, especially against the Eagles on two occasions.

    4. Jawaan Taylor, OT, Jaguars. Age: 25.
      Signed with Chiefs (4 years, $80 million)

      Jawaan Taylor made improvements in his pass protection last year, but was still a poor run blocker.

    5. Mike Edwards, S, Buccaneers. Age: 27. — Signed with Chiefs (1 year, $3 million)
    6. Charles Omenihu, DE, 49ers. Age: 26. — Signed with Chiefs (2 years)
    7. Blaine Gabbert, QB, Buccaneers. Age: 33. — Signed with Chiefs

    Kansas City Chiefs Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Orlando Brown, OT, Chiefs. Age: 27.
      Signed with Bengals (4 years, $64 million)

      Orlando Brown has developed into one of the better left tackles in the NFL. At just 27, Brown figures to perform on a high level for the duration of his next contract.

    2. Juan Thornhill, S, Chiefs. Age: 27.
      Signed with Browns (3 years, $21 million)

      Juan Thornhill tends to miss more tackles than average, but he’s great in coverage.

    3. JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, Chiefs. Age: 26.
      Signed with Patriots (3 years, $33 million)

      JuJu Smith-Schuster broke into the NFL as an electric player, but has regressed since. He was just a mediocre possession receiver last year.

    4. Jerick McKinnon, RB, Chiefs. Age: 31.
      Re-signed with Chiefs

      Jerick McKinnon isn’t much of a runner, but he’s an excellent receiver out of the backfield. He tends to come up big in the playoffs.

    5. Andrew Wylie, OT, Chiefs. Age: 29.
      Signed with Redskins (3 years, $24 million)

      Andrew Wylie is a passable starting tackle, but the Chiefs can probably do better.

    6. Carlos Dunlap, DE, Chiefs. Age: 34.
      Carlos Dunlap saw his sack total drop from 8.5 to four. That could be because he is now in his mid-30s.

    7. Mecole Hardman, WR, Chiefs. Age: 25.
      Signed with Jets

      Mecole Hardman is a phenomenal athlete, but isn’t a good football player. However, he’s still just 25, so there’s lots of time for him to develop.

    8. Khalen Saunders, NT, Chiefs. Age: 27. — Signed with Saints
    9. Justin Watson, WR, Chiefs. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Chiefs
    10. Chad Henne, QB, Chiefs. Age: 38. — Announced retirement
    11. Michael Burton, FB, Chiefs. Age: 31. — Signed with Broncos
    12. Derrick Nnadi, NT, Chiefs. Age: 27.
    13. Nick Allegretti, C, Chiefs. Age: 27.
    14. Ronald Jones, RB, Chiefs. Age: 26. — Signed with Cowboys
    15. Brandon Williams, NT, Chiefs. Age: 34.
    16. Blake Bell, TE, Chiefs. Age: 32. — Re-signed with Chiefs
    17. Deon Bush, S, Chiefs. Age: 30. — Re-signed with Chiefs

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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