Training Camp Battles, Part III

No position group on Kansas City's defense was weaker last year than defensive tackle. The Chiefs were forced to start marginal players (James Reed and Ron Edwards) and backed them up at times with awful ones (Ryan Sims). The acquisitions of Alfonso Boone, Tank Tyler and Turk McBride will go a long way towards upgrading KC's tackle rotation, but who starts? Someone will emerge in River Falls.

Defensive TackleJames Reed vs Ron Edwards vs Alfonso Boone vs Turk McBride vs Tank Tyler

Three experienced players with limited talent. Two inexperienced players with quite a bit of talent. This is about as muddled as it gets. Defensive tackle is a difficult position to learn in the NFL, so don't count on McBride and Tyler jumping right out of the gate and dominating. Especially McBride, since he'll be tasked with learning how to play defensive end in the early going.

It's my guess that even the Chiefs themselves don't know who they'll start at the moment. They threw some money at Boone, but not all that much. Edwards, a starter a year ago, re-upped for a similar amount of money this offseason.

It's really unfortunate that Jared Allen is suspended for the first two games, because I believe the Chiefs have targeted McBride to be their "three-technique" defensive tackle of the future. If that's true, eventually he'll move inside and play next to Tyler, who would fill the role of the space eater on the defensive line (yes, even the Cover 2 has one).

But don't count on either of those guys dominating early. My best guess is that the Chiefs open up with Boone and Reed next to each other in Week 1. But really, does it matter?

The most important thing for an NFL defensive line is to have a solid rotation of players. The Chiefs didn't have it last year, and are still woefully thin at defensive end, but their defensive tackles will be much more rested this season. Fresh guys make more plays and are better prepared to compete late in ball games. I think most Chiefs fans probably don't care who starts as long as the rotation is solid.

I'd like include fifth-year man Jimmy Wilkerson as part of this group, but the Chiefs currently have him listed as a defensive end. I'm unsure if the experiment to move him to defensive tackle is over, but he showed flashes of ability at the position last year. I guess we'll find out for sure in Wisconsin, which could cloud the picture even more.

One thing is certain. With this many new faces and a lack of a returning, dominant defensive tackle on the roster, competition will be rampant. This might be the fiercest training camp battle of them all.

Here's an early shot at the defensive tackle depth chart in Houston on opening day.

1. Alfonso Boone
2. James Reed
3. Tank Tyler
4. Ron Edwards
5. Turk McBride

Saturday: Training Camp Battles, Part I - Right Tackle

Tuesday: Training Camp Battles, Part II - Wide Receiver

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