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Kansas City Chiefs Draft Countdown: Making the Case for Jackson Jeffcoat

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Kansas City Chiefs Draft Countdown: Making the Case for Jackson Jeffcoat
USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Chiefs don't want to go through another season with lacklustre depth behind their top two pass-rushers, Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.

General manager John Dorsey can head off that problem by swooping for a mid-round gem like Jackson Jeffcoat in the 2014 NFL draft. The ex-Texas standout has the right frame to transition from defensive end to outside rush linebacker in Kansas City's version of the 3-4.

Both Hali and Houston successfully made similar transitions. Injuries to the star pair were the main reason the Chiefs defense imploded during the later stages of the 2013 season.

Without the pressure they created off the edges, the Chiefs couldn't support coordinator Bob Sutton's single-high coverage schemes. That's why the failings of certain defensive backs only told half of the story of Kansas City's defensive collapse.

For Sutton's daring concepts to work consistently, he needs a stronger rotation of pass-rushers. He didn't have that last season when the team had to turn to former Green Bay packers reserves Frank Zombo and Dezman Moses.

As a natural pass-rusher, Jeffcoat would be an upgrade over both. He has innate skills for getting after quarterbacks, established by superb bloodlines.

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Jackson's father, Jim, was an outstanding pass-rusher in the pros.

Jackson is the son of former Dallas Cowboys Super Bowl winner Jim Jeffcoat, a brilliant situational pass-rusher. The elder Jeffcoat never lost his knack for generating pressure, particularly on third downs, either at end or tackle.

His son has similar flexibility, as CBS Sports draft analyst Dane Brugler notes: "Versatile experience on the line and as a spy linebacker, lining up in both two and three-point stance."

That quality makes Jeffcoat perfect for a multiple-front 3-4 system like Sutton's. He could see time at end or 3-technique tackle on a four-man front in nickel and dime packages.

Jeffcoat's experience as a spying linebacker could particularly appeal to Sutton. The crafty coordinator often used Hali as a standing rusher in the middle of certain multiple-defensive back fronts last season.

Jeffcoat could occupy that role as a rookie, allowing Hali to join Houston at end while Allen Bailey and Mike Catapano play inside at tackle in a "Nascar" style pass-rushing alignment.

As a roving rusher lurking behind such a speedy front, Jeffcoat would keep quarterbacks and O-lines guessing about whether or not he would attack on delayed blitzes.

While Sutton would no doubt have fun designing creative ways to utilize Jeffcoat as a sub-package weapon, his primary task would be reshaping the rookie into a 3-4 outside linebacker.

That needn't be such a daunting challenge, considering Jeffcoat's 6'3", 247-pound frame lends itself well to playing a standup role on the edge. So do the pass-rushing skills that let him accumulate 13 sacks in 2013, per cfbstats.com.

NFL.com draft pundit Nolan Nawrocki sees Jeffcoat's attributes translating best to a 3-4 scheme in the pros: "Developmental 3-4 rush-linebacker prospect with the pedigree and sack production to warrant interest."

In many ways, Jeffcoat differs from his father and is actually more similar to another former Cowboys pass-rusher, Charles Haley. Like Haley, young Jeffcoat can flip-flop between end and outside 'backer in a hybrid "elephant" role.

He would give Kansas City a dangerous sub-package weapon, and he would provide great cover at perhaps the most important position on the base defense.

Mike Powell/Getty Images
The younger Jeffcoat is more in the mold of great hybrid pass-rusher Charles Haley.

If Sutton refines his overall game, specifically in terms of adding more initial strength at the point of attack, Jeffcoat will soon become a more than useful supplemental pass-rusher.

The Chiefs need all the quality pass-rushers they can get in an AFC West featuring stellar quarterbacks like Peyton Manning and Philip Rivers. Kansas City also faces Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in Week 4, as well as Russell Wilson's Seattle Seahawks in Week 11.

The ability to put the game's best passers under duress is going to be a decisive factor in the Chiefs season.

That is more than enough to make Jeffcoat a prospect the team should target. His CBS Sports profile projects him as the 89th overall prospect, going in the third round.

That puts him firmly on the Kansas City radar, with the Chiefs owning the 87th overall pick. Dorsey should use it to select 2013's Ted Hendricks and Big-12 Defensive Player of the Year award winner.

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