Leaders may need to draft a defensive end

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Could the Chiefs draft a pass rusher in the upcoming 2023 NFL Draft April 27-29?

Don’t be too quick to dismiss the idea. Yes, Washington has already made a big investment in their defensive line by retiring defensive tackles Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne.

But Montez Sweat will enter the final year of his contract. Drafted in the first round (26th overall) in the 2019 NFL draft, Sweat has so far been the best of Washington’s defensive ends.

For example, last season (2022), Sweat had career highs in tackles for loss (14) and quarterback hits (28). In addition, Sweat also contributed 8.0 quarterback sacks. His career high came in 2020 with a 9.0.

The former Mississippi State Bulldog is expected to earn $11.5 million this season, 5.0% of the Chiefs salary cap. If he has a big year, he may be in high demand. As a result, how much money would Washington be able to allocate toward its defensive line in 2024? Would the Chiefs then decide to retire Sweat or let him walk in free agency?

Then there’s Chase Young, the second overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft. Young is entering his fourth season and will be a $10.99 million hit for Washington, 4.8% of the Chiefs’ salary cap.

The 2020 defensive rookie of the year has since disappointed, with just 1.5 sacks, 3 tackles for loss and 4 quarterback hits in his 9 games before his 2021 season ended with a torn ACL rushing against Tampa Bay.

In 2022 Young only played in three games, recording three tackles, two assists and one quarterback hit. This is Young’s fourth season. The The fifth-year option window for first-round picks in the Class of 2020 opened on Jan. 9, and the Chiefs have yet to respond. They must do so soon as the deadline is 1 May.

So, at a glance, the Chiefs might not use the No. 16 pick on a rusher, but would they if they traded back to somewhere in the 20s? How about at No. 47 or No. 97?

So in the last two weeks leading up to the NFL draft, you might want to take a look at some edge rushers/defensive ends and where they are projected to be taken in the first three tours.

This story first appeared on Commanders Wire

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