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Kansas City Chiefs July Scouting Report
John Cooney

A couple of quick housekeeping notes before we take a look at the Chiefs’ defense for 2019.


Training camp kicked off at Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, Missouri for a tenth season. Camp began July 27 and the last day of fun in the sun is August 15.


The Tyreek Hill saga now appears to be coming to a close as far as the team is concerned, and the league as well. Hill has had numerous lay-it-on-the-table talks with NFL investigators, team president Clark Hunt, GM Brett Veach and Coach Andy Reid. The discussions are said to have been frank, open and to the points, on both sides. Hill has been consistent in his side of the events in question and, to his credit, he’s owned up to the mistakes he did make. What appears to be quite evident is the most severe accusations made against the KC playmaking wideout were not factual or accurate. Hill has suffered countless attacks in various media outlets eager to rush into sensationalism and character assassination before allowing the process of proof to play out.


So, what makes Tyreek Hill any different from Kareem Hunt, who was caught in a similar situation but summarily released from the team? Truthfulness and honesty is the answer. Hunt was not forthcoming and honest with the Chiefs’ brass during his proceedings. The Chiefs are an organization that actually puts great weight in character, honesty and men handling their business in a mature fashion. Kareem Hunt did not act in such a manner when it came to his dealing with Coach Reid, Mr. Veach or Mr. Hunt and he eventually was given his walking papers. As of today, Hunt may not be "getting it" as part owner of the Browns, Dee Haslam, stated Hunt is a work-in-progress, is getting counseling and his "future is in his hands." Not exactly a ringing endorsement of success.


On to camp news. Projected starting RB Damien Williams is already dealing with hamstring issues. He’ll miss a few days, maybe.


Tyreek Hill looks ready to go despite his off-season of turmoil. Hill is not a "big" athlete but for his size his is visually powerfully built, and the power-packed legs are a huge reason for his ability to break DB tackles and race for big-gainers in spectacular fashion.


I know Coach Reid is the play-caller for a majority of every game, but Offensive Coordinator Eric Bieniemy is vital to the success of this offense. He has the complete respect of his players.


The big questions of many, many fanballers is will Pat Mahomes be better in 2019 and if so, how? So far in the early going Mahomes looks betterin that he is relaxed, poised and so much more ready to go. However, Mahomes playing better most likely will not translate into him surpassing his outlandish 2018 production. He’ll make smarted decisions this season and smarter decisions will cut back on some of those sticky ad-libbed completions of a year ago. Still, Mahomes is already creating heartburn for Coach Reid in early practices, chucking no-look tosses and firing zingers through dangerously narrow windows.


Want a name to keep in mind for your IDP drafts? Tanoh Kpassagnon. He was misused, underutilized, last year by now ex-DC Bob Sutton New DC Steve Spagnuolohas K-Pass lining up at DE with the 1s and the huge defender’s length and tenacity is already shining. Coach Spaguolo has always preferred long, tall, big athletes on his defensive squads, especially on the line. K-Pass is a hustler but was in positional limbo under Coach Sutton but has a DE home with coach Spags. Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE… Just Sayin’.


Back to the offense, heads up, here comes Sammy Watkins. Tyreek Hill was a lethal weapon last season and he was practically all the WR the Chiefs had as far as production goes. Watkins was on the squad last season but in his 9 starts and 10 appearances he mustered 40-519-3 TDs. Sammy looks sudden and sound in camp and is already stacking good sessions with even better ones. He has that look of zeroed-in determination.


Come to think of it, Watkins’ 40 shags last season was 2ndamong team wideouts as was his 519 yards.


Mecole Hardman was drafted as a hedge on the anticipated Tyreek Hill suspension. Now that Hill is NOT going to miss games by suspension is Hardman suddenly a 4.3 x 40 slot-burner facing single cover due to the threats of Hill, Watkins and Travis Kelce?


Speaking of Hardman, he is clearly working on taking more QB-friendly angles out of his breaks. Harman has worked on coming back to his QBs’ tosses rather than drift or wait for the ball to arrive.


Back to Watkins; this man does NOT wait for the football. He is a joy to watch ripping the ball out of its trajectory. Sammy just goes and gets it.


And for those wondering if DE/DT Chris Jones is in camp or holding out… the big guy is in and practicing.


So, let’s talk defense.


Can’t do that without hitting upon the basic change from Coach Sutton to Coach Spagnuolo; 3-4 to a base 4-3. Some 2018 outside ‘backers are going to see much more time with their hands in the turf pre-snap.


Coach Spags likes length at the line and size at LB. He isn’t a blitz-calling fanatic but while Coach Spags wants the pressure to come from his 4 horses in the trenches, expect to see timely and rather exotic red-dog calls each week. Coach Spags cut his NFL defensive coaching teeth under the late Jim Johnson in Philly. Coach Johnson crafted attacking, tough defenses for Coach Reid and the Eagles, pressuring enemy QBs with a blitzing defender from any position. The key wasn’t the volume of blitz calls, but quality, creativity, unpredictability and timeliness was.


Coach Spagnuolo’s projected starting front 4 are:

DE: AlexOkafor, Frank Clark.

The exciting feature of this season’s D-line is the quality of depth. EmmanuelOgbah, BreelandSpeaksand TanohKpassagnon are all going to step in each week as rotating pressure-makers, keeping Clark and Okafor fresh to the final whistle.


DT: Chris Jones, DerrickNnadi.

Chris Jones had 15 sacks a year ago… 15!! Now line up inside, Jones is set to be a penetrating beast while the opposing OT is occupied with a fierce Frank Clark rush and the guard isolated for Jones. Derrick Nnadi is the stay-at-home cleaner-upper.


OLB: Anthony Hitchens, Dorian O’Daniel.

Hitchens is relentless chasing down the football and O’Daniel is that sneaky dangerous blitz call when Coach Spags needs a QB pressure. But if Coach wants to really SHOW he’s bringing the heat on a given play he can rotate sub-OLBs JeremiahAttaochu and Darron Lee.


MLB: Reggie Ragland.

If ever there was the prototype middle ‘backer for a 4-3 alignment it is Reggie Ragland. Ragland is the proverbial thumper that can run down a ball carrier, tackle-to-tackle. He’s not great in pass coverage and I expect we’ll see plenty of sub-packages that take Ragland off the field for the extra DB that can cover and play the box.


FS/SS: Juan Thornhill, Tyrann Mathieu.

The Chiefs have not one but 2 safeties that can morph from play to play as strong safety to free safety. Mathieu is a gem of a DB who can cover and jump in to support the run defense. Mathieu also has excellent ball-skills. Rookie safety Juan Thornhill may be even sharper as a ball hawk. Thornhill can flat-out snag the football like a wideout and he is dangerous with the ball in his hands on returns. Like Mathieu, Thornhill is not shy about jumping the box and taking on a RB crashing into the 2nd level.

Daniel Sorenson and Armani Watts provide interior DB depth.


SlotDB: Coach Spags appears to be setting Kendall Fuller as the full-time slotDB or nickel-back. Fuller was only average last season sliding between nickel-back and the outside. Under a new scheme and a dedicated defensive position, the hope is Fuller will play up to his lofty potential in 2019.


CB: BashaudBreeland, CharvariusWard.

This is the spot on the defense that can either thrive if the front-7 are getting to the QB consistently or the 2 CBs could be burn victims quite often. Breeland has battled injuries but when on the field he is a ball-hawking CB. Ward, an undrafted free agent signed by Dallas and traded for by the Chiefs is a mystery.

Behind the 2 projected starters at corner are even more question marks. CB is a tad scary right now. KC needs Breeland to stay healthy and a good pass rush up front.


So far in camp the defense is delivering hot and cold performances from various areas. DE Tanoh Kpassagnon is really letting his natural gifts shine in the early stages of camp. He’s getting to the QB, disrupting screens to the RBs with his long arms and great height, making air tackles (no real hitting yet) and playing with the full energy he’s shown since day one in a Chiefs uniform. His roadblocks however are formidable in Frank Clark and Alex Okafor.


Need to mention how genuinely excited and determined Frank Clark sounds in camp. He is displaying a real happiness to be in Kansas City and has been a very positive influence on the defensive unit.


Clark and Chris Jones have already been disruptive forces out there.


The saying in the NFL goes, "speed kills," and that is sure holding true with the Chiefs CBs. Maybe the daily burn of trying to cover Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Harman and even Travis Kelce is creating false reads on the quality of play by the KC outside cover men, but…


… So far, speed kills and the KC corners are getting killed. Even interior slot-CB Kendall Fuller has his hands full and has not looked all that great in coverage. Missing since the 27th is projected starter Breeland who suffered a pretty bad cut thumb and is out for now. AAF standout CB Keith Reaserwent down and looks as if he has a possible Achilles tear.


It is nice to see Juan Thornhill getting to the football, however. His sure-hands have yet to be "sure" but as things slow down for the rookie, the picks will come.


IF you participate in an IDP league, the Chiefs’ defense offers some enticing options. Frank Clark, Alex Okafor and Chris Jones all make outstanding D-line draft picks. Clark may be looking at career best in sacks if his enthusiasm and fire in camp follows him into the regular season. His talk and respect of Coach Spagnuolo is refreshing.


DB Tyrann Mathieu is a great looking IDP prospect for 2019. And if Bashaud Breeland can avoid those nagging injuries the ball-hawking CB will deliver INTs and fantasy points. Teams will throw at Breeland. If Clark, Jones and company are getting to the passer with any consistency and in a timely manner, Breeland should grab 4-6 passes, and he’s a threat to score once the ball is in his hands. Rookie FS/SS Juan Thornhill also has INT potential; he’s got the skills and mentality for sure.


Camp injury updates:

WR Gehrig Dieter(who was not impressing) left with back spasms.

RB Marcus Marshall strained a groin.

OT Mitch Schwartz’s back lock up on him.

S Jordan Lucaswas out with a hamstring.

RB Damien Williams also sat out with a hamstring.

S Armani Watts is back on the field after some ribs issues.


Camp is just heating up. Hot August days means plenty of football news just ahead.


Until next month, keep your Eye in the Sky over Kansas City.



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