When the Kansas City Chiefs finally get together after the lockout ends, the defensive line will get a lot of attention from GM Scott Pioli and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. The way ESPN’s Bill Williamson sees it, DE Tyson Jackson will be under the most pressure of the players already on the roster.
In this past draft, Pioli used a third-round pick on Allen Bailey. Bailey and Jackson have similar physical tools, but Bailey’s production never matched his potential at the University of Miami. If Bailey does reach his potential, he could challenge Jackson for playing time before long.
Another guy to be aware of in Kansas City is Wallace Gilberry. Gilberry isn’t a household name and will be a restricted free agent once a collective bargaining agreement is reached. But Gilberry can really rush the passer. Of the Chiefs’ defensive linemen, he is clearly the best in this capacity. He might not be equipped for every-down usage at end in this scheme, but on passing downs Gilberry can line up next to Dorsey with Tamba Hali and Justin Houston as the edge pass-rushers. That could be an extremely effective front four on throwing downs.
Gilberry’s opposite is needed at nose tackle. Ron Edwards is the starter, but he is an unrestricted free agent. Shaun Smith is up for free agency as well. He can play the nose or end, which certainly adds to his value. Edwards and Smith both play the run well but offer very little in getting after the passer. Kansas City used a sixth-round pick on Jerrell Powe, who has more ability than that draft slot would indicate. But the rookie probably can contribute in a rotation only on early downs as he learns the finer points of the position.
When you draft a guy in the top three and give him over $30 million guaranteed the way the Chiefs did with Jackson there are going to be a lot of expectations from both in and out of the organization. Though as disappointing as he played his first season, Jackson continued to get hammered by media and fans alike even though he showed potential last year when he wasn’t hurt.
I won’t argue that Jackson will have the most eyes on him as the preseason goes along, but I have much more faith in him than most. Just look at what he did in that first game against the Chargers and then again once his leg was healthy and he wasn’t trying to play through his rehabilitation.
The Chiefs need to get more out of Jackson not because of where he was drafted but because he’s the starting defensive end.