The Chiefs are slated to open another season with a pair of top-five draft picks manning the bookends of their defensive line. If rookie
Such a blueprint isn’t unique to Kansas City, however. Stopping the run is and will always be the most fundamental job of any defense, but the pass-happy nature of the NFL is also making the need for sub-package defensive linemen a growing necessity.
Sub-package defensive linemen, who historically aren’t top draft picks, are seeing plenty of action despite drawing few starting assignments. Undrafted defensive end Wallace Gilberry was the Chiefs most active sub-package lineman over the past two seasons drawing a total of 857 defensive snaps for an average of 26.8 snaps per game.
Gilberry made just three starts over that 32-game span with all of them coming in the nickel defense. Still, he totaled 9.5 sacks.
Though Gilberry’s production as a reserve was significant, Kansas City has high hopes for
Bailey is poised to take on an even bigger role this season with Gilberry’s departure to Tampa Bay. His late-season production, which included his first-career sack against Green Bay, has the Chiefs confident with its sub-package personnel heading into training camp.
But the Chiefs aren’t the only ones encouraged with Bailey’s potential. Football Outsiders (via ESPN.com) recently ranked Bailey No. 7 on its list of the “NFL’s top 25 under-the-radar players expected to make and impact in the NFL.”
Past No. 1 prospects on the list have included eventual Pro Bowl receivers Miles Austin (2009) and Mike Wallace (2010). The pool of players for this year’s list was limited to the following criteria:
- Drafted in the third round or later, or signed as an undrafted free agent
- Entered the NFL between 2009 and 2011
- Fewer than five career games started
- Still on their initial contract
- Age 26 or younger in 2012
Here’s what they said:
Bailey, a third-round rookie, made only eight plays last year, but five of them were *defeats. He's a two-time All-ACC player who twice led the Miami Hurricanes in sacks, a versatile talent who was an outside linebacker as a freshman, then later started at both defensive end and tackle. The pessimistic term for this, of course, would be "tweener," as he's too slow to play defensive end in a 4-3, and not quite big enough to be an NFL defensive tackle. Romeo Crennel has a pretty good history with "tweeners" like Bailey who have smarts and a nonstop motor. The Chiefs occasionally used him last year as a situational pass-rusher on passing downs. This year, they'll likely use him a lot more often, and it isn't far-fetched to think he could earn a starting job in 2013.
*“defeats” are defined as plays made by a defensive player that prevent the offense from gaining first down yardage on third or fourth down, stop the offense behind the line of scrimmage, or result in a turnover.
Bailey became as disrupter as his rookie season progressed and the Chiefs will rely on him to take another step forward in his second season. He worked alongside Poe in sub-package snaps this offseason, creating what the Chiefs hope will be a troublesome pairing for opposing offenses on passing downs.
Football Outsiders’ Top-25 NFL Prospects
- WR Doug Baldwin, Seattle
- DE/LB Martez Wilson, New Orleans
- DE/LB Everson Griffen, Minnesota
- CB Cortez Allen, Pittsburgh
- RB Stevan Ridley, New England
- DE Pernell McPhee, Baltimore
- DE Allen Bailey, Kansas City
- James Brewer, NY Giants
- LB Akeen Dent, Atlanta
- CB DeMarcus Van Dyke, Oakland
- RB Evan Royster, Washington
- CB Brice McCain, Houston
- WR Jeremy Kerley, NY Jets
- LB O’Brien Schofield, Arizona
- DT Karl King, Tennessee
- QB Ryan Mallett, Patriots
- CB Buster Skrine, Cleveland
- DT Cam Thomas, San Diego
- OL Marcus Cannon, New England
- LB Victor Butler, Dallas
- WR Vincent Brown, San Diego
- DE Phillip Hunt, Philadelphia
- LB D.J. Smith, Green Bay
- WR Ricardo Lockette, Seattle
- WR Kris Durham, Seattle