The Kansas City Chiefs are generally one of the more exciting teams to watch because of Patrick Mahomes and their offense but in 2022, they almost feel more interesting than ever before.
That feeling is the product of a very unique offseason where the Chiefs moved on from several key veterans — Tyreek Hill, Tyrann Mathieu, Anthony Hitchens — replacing them with free agents and younger prospects.
On the surface, that might sound like a bad spring but in reality, some believe general manager Brett Veach may have revitalized this roster. One or two NFL minds even think a Super Bowl return is very possible for KC, and part of that is because of how the Chiefs’ defense looks after the overhaul.
‘Sleeper’ Bryan Cook Turning Into Defensive Playmaker
During an article with Arrowhead Pride, analyst Matt Stagner provided some Chiefs’ “market movers” for fans to monitor — a variation on a stock report (risers and fallers).
At the bottom, Stagner added one “value sleeper” on the roster and that player was first-year safety, Bryan Cook. He voiced:
We’ve seen glimpses of what made the Chiefs so excited about their rookie safety; his size/speed combination (and hitting ability) were evident from the time the pads came on. But it was the [preseason] interception against the Green Bay Packers that showed what he might be capable of doing. In defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo’s system, Cook’s ability to close on the football (and make a play in coverage) could make him an exciting third safety. All Cook really needs to do is be a competent player — that is, one that opposing quarterbacks won’t target in defensive sub-packages. But it’s possible that he can be more than that: a dynamic, versatile playmaker who can rotate in to keep Kansas City’s defense unpredictable.
The Cincinnati rookie has been turning heads since minicamp, in all honesty, but he has done so quietly compared to running back Isiah Pachecho or pass rusher George Karlaftis. The irony is, there is nothing quiet about his game.
Cook packs a wallop of a tackle and he’ll make quarterbacks pay when they least expect it — like against Green Bay. The youngster lurks about instinctually with a high football IQ and confidence in his play.
NFL Network draft expert Lance Zierlein once scouted him as a “back-end chameleon.” He explained: “[Cook] can be used as an add-on run defender, match up on ‘F’ tight ends or play on the back-end… He could become a good starter early in his career.”
Not too far off from what Stagner is seeing in the present day.
The Chiefs writer finished by advising fans to “watch for all the ways that the Chiefs use Cook on Sunday” — coverage, run support, as a blitzer. “He might just be an impact player — one that few have yet noticed.”
Considering the highs and lows of the offseason, wouldn’t it be lovely if Cook ended up having even more “Honey Badger” in him than Justin Reid? That’s how you turn a roster around.
Youth Headlines Stagner’s Bulls
On the bullish portion of this market update, Stagner named a total of five draft picks. They were WR Skyy Moore, Karlaftis, Pacheco, CB Jaylen Watson, and LB Leo Chenal.
Moore and Karlaftis were the only two that he went into detail on.
“The fact that the team felt comfortable with five receivers on the active roster speaks to the confidence they have in Moore,” he stated about the rookie wide receiver. “In limited preseason action, we saw Kansas City trying to get the ball to him in a number of ways — including end-arounds, toe-tapping catches on the sideline and deep targets. On Sunday, watch for Moore to ratchet up expectations with a handful of plays.”
On the Purdue product, Stagner tried to slow the hype train slightly.
“I’m still going to argue that we need to manage our expectations for the first-round rookie defensive end,” he began. “But I’m also willing to admit that those expectations (like Moore’s) might have gone up a bit during the preseason. Furious George may never bend the edge or get double-digit sacks, but it does appear that his best traits translate to the NFL — and he appears to be learning quickly.”
He went on, noting that the Chiefs will be “leaning on” Karlaftis more than any other rookie. “Frank Clark is ill again, Carlos Dunlap has been fighting a nagging injury and the bottom-of-the-roster guys haven’t shown much so far,” Stagner concluded. “As a rookie, Karlaftis could lead defensive ends in both snaps and sacks.”