Kansas City Chiefs
- Grade: A
The reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers were, and still are, a serious juggernaut from all aspects, obviously. However, one could argue that adequate protection for Patrick Mahomes might have led to the Chiefs becoming back-to-back champs last season or at least competing and making Super Bowl LV interesting.
Instead, Mahomes ran around like a headless chicken all night getting abused by Shaq Barrett and the Bucs’ vaunted defensive front. Then Kansas City parted ways with tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz shortly after the end of the season, which caused the whole state of Missouri to shudder and mutter “uh oh.” They wondered if an organization as stable as the Chiefs have been would actually be unable to reasonably protect their $503 million dollar investment at quarterback, who is soon to be entering his prime.
Then an eye raising AFC headliner trade involving Orlando Brown dropped, sending him from the Baltimore Ravens to Kansas City as a fantastic replacement for Fisher and Mahomes’ blindside.
Coupled by former first-round selection and three-time Pro Bowler, Kyle Long, returning to the gridiron after a year long absence to play for the Chiefs and Kansas City also adding former All-Pro New England Patriots guard Joe Thuney with a historic long-term contract for an interior offensive linemen.
Though nearly unthinkable leading up to and after the Super Bowl, the Chiefs have markedly bolstered the offensive line this offseason, which is a scary prospect behind Mr. Mahomes.
On the flip side, Kansas City has quietly built a very strong defense at all three levels. This year, they improved their defense more by signing free-agent defensive tackle Jarran Reed and drafting Day 2 headliner and multi All-SEC performer in explosive linebacker Nick Bolton.
“Are the Chiefs still the AFC West favorite?” is a question deserving of a “coming up next on duh.” However, there’s no doubt each AFC West team made some potentially monumental improvements this offseason, setting up for a fun race this fall.