(TNS) — Here’s an early look at the five primary positions the Chiefs might look to bolster this offseason, either through free agency or the NFL Draft, in order.
1. Defensive line
The Chiefs' inability to consistently stop the run and get pressure on the quarterback falls on the interior, which was inconsistent in both areas. Chris Jones is a really nice building block, and if he become more consistent, he could be a superstar. But the Chiefs need to fortify their depth around him. Rakeem Nunez-Roches is a good energy player, and the Chiefs need to bring him back as a restricted free agent. Nose tackle Bennie Logan was the best of the bunch against the run, but he's an unrestricted free agent. More young talent is needed, but so is a nasty, alpha-type player who can set the tone up front and ease the burden on the secondary and linebackers.
The Chiefs didn't want to pay Marcus Peters top-flight corner money, largely because his tumultuous 2017 season gave them concerns about how he'd handle being on a team that might take a step back in 2018. So finding a top-notch option here is a priority. Kendall Fuller, the centerpiece of the Alex Smith trade, will become an every-down corner, and the Chiefs are betting on a strong contract year from Steven Nelson, who is entering his third year a starter. They also signed David Amerson, a big corner with ball skills, for depth reasons, but you can never have enough corners in this league, and the Chiefs are one serious injury away from being in serious trouble. To be honest, they need more talent here in the worst way, regardless.
3. Edge rusher
If Justin Houston and Dee Ford stay healthy, that's a strong edge rush versus the pass. But both have dealt with injuries in the past, and the Chiefs would be wise to fortify the spot with more talent. Coaches love 2017 second-round pick Tanoh Kpassgnon's enthusiasm and natural gifts, but the Chiefs still need to add another young pass rusher here just in case Houston and/or Ford get hurt, they decide to move on from either, or Kpassagnon needs another year to develop.
4. Inside linebacker
General manager Brett Veach swiped Reggie Ragland for a fourth-round pick last preseason, and Ragland turned into a revelation. Without him, the Chiefs' already poor run defense would have been much worse. Still, the Chiefs need a three-down linebacker that can play the run and cover next to him ... and so does the rest of the league, unfortunately. In the meantime, they might be better off taking a baseball-style platoon approach by adding a run stuffer and coverage linebacker and using each when necessary.
The expected release of Ron Parker leaves a void at safety, where star Eric Berry is returning from a season-ending Achilles injury and two young players — Eric Murray and Daniel Sorensen — earned a ton of experience last year but need to have better seasons in 2018. The good news is that football matters to both players a great deal, and there's a chance each could thrive in the more aggressive scheme the Chiefs are likely to employ this season. Still, if the Chiefs find a strong cover safety that can handle the deep third of the field, it will free Berry up to be his roaming, playmaking self and improve this position's long-term outlook.
Tight end: Travis Kelce is still a star in his prime at 29, but Demetrius Harris is entering the last year of his contract and finding a developmental receiving threat would be optimal. The Chiefs might benefit more, however, from adding the strong, run-blocking type of tight end that they've lacked for three years now.
Receiver: The Chiefs may have to outscore people to win next year, and with Chris Conley recovering from an Achilles injury, they could use another downfield threat to pair with Ty Hill as insurance. If the Chiefs can further establish the deep ball as a part of their attack, it will ease the burden on their offensive line and make the ground game easier.
Backup quarterback: Mahomes needs a veteran backup. Chase Daniel would certainly fit the bill.
Punter: Long-time stalwart Dustin Colquitt is an unrestricted free agent.
Running back: Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West are very capable of sharing the load with Kareem Hunt, but Ware missed the entire 2017 season with a knee injury and both he and West will be free agents after next season.