2010 Position Previews: Defensive Tackle

Posted Jul 27, 2010

A focal point of defensive improvement in 2010 resides with the men doing the dirty work

Back for more: Ron Edwards, Dion Gales, Derek Lokey

Welcome to KC: Garrett Brown (rookie free agent); Shaun Smith (free agent)

Departures: None

2009 Starts: Edwards (14); *Tank Tyler (2)

Career Games Played: Edwards (112); Smith (63); Gales (3); Lokey (3); Brown (0)

*traded to Carolina on October 20th

Preview: Finding a solution to the depth concerns that hounded Kansas City at nose tackle throughout 2009 is a key issue facing the Chiefs defense. When Opening Day starter Tank Tyler was dealt to Carolina following Week Six, the Chiefs never found a permanent solution to back up Ron Edwards (the fifth-round pick that Kansas City received for Tyler was later traded to Houston in order to move up and select TE Tony Moeaki in the third-round of the 2010 Draft).

As the Chiefs struggled to find production out of a multitude of players, such as Kenny Smith, Edwards took the brunt of reps at a very physical position. In nine of the 10 games post-Tyler, Edwards saw 45 or more defensive snaps. That workload, on average, was close to double the amount that Edwards experienced with the club in 2007 and 2008.

Where will Kansas City find depth at the nose?

Veteran Shaun Smith, who has a history playing under Romeo Crennel in Cleveland and alongside Todd Haley in Dallas, was brought in as a free agent this off-season in hopes of securing depth and increasing competition at the position. A six-year veteran, Smith’s best two seasons as a pro are linked to Crennel from 2007-08 where he started 19 games and registered 110 tackles for the Browns.

At 6-2, 325 pounds, Smith is the prototypical 3-4 nose tackle. The Chiefs are hoping that re-uniting Smith with Crennel can revive his play from 2007-08 to give the club a strong veteran presence over center.

Former rookie free agent Dion Gales received his promotion from the practice squad in mid-December, and earned a handful of reserve reps once Kenny Smith was released. He bounces back and forth between the defensive end and defensive tackle positions, giving Kansas City some versatility as a reserve. Don’t let Gales’ listed weight of 259 pounds scare you off. Gales probably goes about 30 pounds heavier than that.

Derek Lokey was a pleasant surprise during off-season work. The former two-way player at the University of Texas has been unable to secure a permanent role on the Chiefs 53-man roster each of the last two seasons, but he’s also done enough to never get more than an arm’s length away from Kansas City’s front office.

As a rookie, Lokey spent 15 weeks on Kansas City’s practice squad before getting a promotion to the active squad in the final week of the season. A camp casualty in 2009, Lokey was brought back to the practice squad in December and earned a promotion for the final two games of the season. Lokey is a hard worker, well-liked and seems to always be around. Will he do enough in St. Joseph to make his stay a permanent one in 2010?

Rounding out the pack, undrafted free agent Garrett Brown finds himself in a nice place to gain an NFL opportunity with the position group anything but decided heading into training camp.

When the Chiefs go into sub-packages, there is less need for big, lane-clogging bodies in the middle. Defensive ends Glenn Dorsey, Alex Magee, Dion Gales and Wallace Gilberry have typically shifted down from the five-technique to occupy tackle-like positions in nickel sets.

Playing a two-gap technique in order to plug the middle is one of football’s dirtiest jobs. It’s also one of the most important. Overall defensive improvement almost always starts up front.

The Chiefs are looking for a few good men.

Quotable: The following player or coach quotes occurred this off-season, relative to the position group.

Todd Haley confirms what most who have met Smith already knew – the guy has personality…

“He’s an interesting character – a little different than a lot of guys that we have around here, as I’m sure you’ve all gotten to see over the past couple weeks. He’ll say what he thinks most of the time, but he livens things up to say the least. He’s like a bunch of these other guys that I know seize the opportunity to rise up from where he’s been and I think he’s putting everything into trying to maximize that opportunity.”

What Haley is looking for in a defensive lineman…

“I’ve been taught that any smart defensive linemen that have good size and can run and are smart, they don’t grow on trees so you find a way, even if you think there’s no chance or you think there’s a great chance, you have to find a way to make sure you don’t discard any of those guys.

Although Glenn Dorsey didn’t take off-season snaps at defensive tackle, GM Scott Pioli didn’t rule out the possibility of Dorsey playing multiple positions with his comments earlier this spring…

“I think Glenn is a unique player. He has the physical skill and body type to play numerous positions. I think what we will do, like we do with a lot of other positions, is we are going to collect as many good players as we can and then the players themselves will sort out who are going to be the best ones on the field.”

Number Crunch: The Chiefs carried two defensive tackles on the Opening Day roster in 2009 – Edwards and *Tyler

*indicates opening day starter

Up Next: Defensive Ends

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