The Chiefs biggest issue was their defense last season. They employed some true old school style run stuffing linebackers, but that does not get it done in today’s NFL. Damien Wilson is the next man up and is going undrafted.
The Kansas City Chiefs put out one of the most lackluster groups of linebackers in the NFL last season. Anthony Hitchens made a lot of tackles, 135 total, but contributed next to nothing else. Hitchens played on 80.1% of the teams defensive snaps. Reggie Ragland was the other starter for most of the season playing on only 49.4 of the teams snaps and was able to produce 86 tackles, but yet again he contributed nothing else. Damien Wilson is the next man up as with the team’s week one depth chart he is starting next to Hitchens.
The team is desperate for a playmaker at the linebacker. Ragland is definitely not the answer for the Chiefs. Last season they were one of the teams that played mostly nickel and dime packages overloading the field with defensive backs. The goal is to not have to do this so much. Hopefully Wilson can be a guy who can stay on the field for more than 49% of the teams snaps.
Damien Wilson started his collegiate career playing at Jones County Junior College. From there he caught the eye of the Minnesota Golden Gophers and played his Junior and Senior seasons there in the Big Ten. During his time with Minnesota he was very productive. He totaled 186 tackles, 15 tackles for a loss, five sacks, three passes defensed, one interception, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. He averaged 7.75 tackles per game in those two seasons including an average of 9.17 tackles per game his Senior year.
This led Wilson to be selected in the fourth round and 127th overall in the 2015 draft by the Cowboys. Though the decent selection in the fourth round it never amounted to too much. He played strongside linebacker for the team which is only on the field in base downs and last season only made starts due to Sean Lee injuries. Wilson showed at least an understanding of coverage with the Cowboys. Watch here as he does a solid job of dropping back into zone coverage to prevent an easy completion to the tight end:
Here's Damien Wilson in zone coverage. Cowboys are in man with an underneath zone. Wilson gets good depth to take away any kind of quick hitter and drives on the TE to make the tackle #Chiefs pic.twitter.com/9qDX77OYvZ
— Jake Cronenworth Stan Account (@trelyday23) March 13, 2019
In 2018 Wilson played on only 27.9% of the Cowboys defensive snaps. Though regularly on the bench Wilson was productive when on the field. With only being on the field for about a quarter of the teams snaps he still produced 37 tackles, two tackles for a loss, one sack and one forced fumble.
New Start With Chiefs
The Chiefs made a few additions tot he linebacker group this offseason. They made a trade for Darron Lee and also added Wilson himself. Lee seemed to be the logical choice after seeing the most playing time and production of the group but he failed to make the most of his opportunity. The next logical choices were incumbents Dorian O’Daniel who flashed in spurts last season or Reggie Ragland though he did not show any sort of playmaking ability.
Even with all of these guys on the roster Wilson seems to have made enough of an impact to win the job. He was the dark horse and was never even mentioned by experts as a potential job winner but as of week one it is his. The Cheifs hired successful defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo and he has worked hands on with the defense. Watch here as he coaches Wilson hands on:
The difference between Bob Sutton and new DC Steve Spagnuolo is so recognizable. I took this video of Spags with Damien Wilson. See how he's right in the mix, teaching hands on? Such a stark difference from Sutton. pic.twitter.com/vJeKkaPDH0
— Pete Sweeney (@pgsween) May 23, 2019
Spagnuolo must like what he sees in Wilson and it the Cheifs are rolling him out as a week one starter. If he can show out and make plays, there is a great opportunity for production. Wilson should be available on most waiver wires and is worth a look for the end of your bench, especially in deep leagues.
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