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Top Defensive Targets for the Chiefs in the 2023 NFL Draft

It's never too early to take a look at next year's impressive class.

The Kansas City Chiefs loaded up on the defensive side of the ball in the 2022 NFL Draft. Would they be willing to do that again in 2023? The draft will be coming to Kansas City next April, and it’s never too early to look into some prospects that could be available for the Chiefs.

A couple of weeks back, we took a look at some offensive players the Chiefs could target but this week, we will be focusing on the defense. Without further ado, let's dig into it.

Defensive Tackles: Bryan Bresee, Tyler Davis (Round 1 Projection)

Clemson defensive lineman Bryan Bresee (11) during pregame before the 2021 Cheez-It Bowl at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida Wednesday, December 29, 2021. Ncaa Football Cheez It Bowl Iowa State Vs Clemson

I’m cheating a bit with this one and highlighting two players from the same Clemson Tigers team. Both are currently projected to go in the first round so if one of them falls to the Chiefs, they certainly could look to add to the defensive front.

Bryan Bresee is one of the more intriguing prospects in the 2023 draft class. He’s dealt with some injuries but has the talent to be an early to mid-first-round talent. He has impressive speed and agility for his size and has the physical ability to power his way through an offensive line. He’s solid at the point of attack and will bring guys down on first contact with his tackling ability. He’s a big weight room warrior and won’t be outworked by anyone.

His teammate, Tyler Davis, is projected to go later in the first round. He’s a former high school wrestler and it shows in his balance and technique up front. He's also to block when put in one on one situations and will draw double-teams from time to time, which frees up linebackers and defensive ends to get after the quarterback. He has a good bull rush and will make quarterbacks nervous in the pocket. He needs to work on finishing the tackle but overall, Davis has a high ceiling at the next level.

Either of these guys would be a nice fit up front for the Chiefs in 2023 and beyond.

EDGE: Zion Tupuola-Fetui (Round 2/3 Round Projection)

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Zion Tupuola-Fetui can be a game-changer when he’s healthy. He had to miss a majority of the 2021 season due to a torn Achilles in spring practice but somehow was able to make it back before the end of the season and play in a couple of games. Ultimately, he obviously wanted to prove his worth and come back for a super-senior season.

Looking back at his 2020 campaign, he was a monster on the field. Despite a shortened season due to COVID-19, Tupuola-Fetui enjoyed success to the tune of seven sacks and three forced fumbles in just four games. The high-level production earned him second-team All-American honors. If he had been healthy through the 2021 season and played to his potential, it’s very likely he would have entered the draft and been a borderline first-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

As he looks to bounce back from a lost season due to a significant injury, Tupuola-Fetui's stock could rise and push him into the first round if his production over a full season matches his 2020 numbers. The Chiefs will likely be targeting another EDGE early in the 2023 draft as they did with 2022 first-rounder George Karlaftis. When you look at his size at 6’4" and 260 pounds and his ability to get after the quarterback, Tupuola-Fetui could be a nice fit in Kansas City.

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Linebacker: Ivan Pace Jr. (Round 3-4 Projection)

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Ivan Pace Jr. had a solid career at Miami of Ohio but is transferring to Cincinnati after wrapping up a career year where he landed PFF’s MAC Defensive Player of the Year award. His production was steady, featuring 60 total tackles, four sacks, a forced fumble and an interception. Pace is a crafty blitzer and can get after the quarterback when called upon.

Pace will look to increase his draft stock with the move to Cincinnati. After a few years of questionable linebacker play, the Chiefs have really restocked at the position in recent years. They could look to add even more depth in the 2023 draft, but it likely won’t be a high priority as they brought in Leo Chanel from Wisconsin with a third-round selection and added Mike Rose from Iowa State via undrafted free agency. 

Cornerback: Joey Porter Jr. (Round 2-3 Projection)

Oct 23, 2021; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions cornerback Joey Porter Jr. (9) gestures to the crowd against the Illinois Fighting Illini during the second half at Beaver Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

It’s still early in the process, and I’ve seen Joey Porter Jr. projected anywhere from a first- to fourth-round selection — this season will tell us a lot about the youngster from Penn State. He is the son of former NFL linebacker Joey Porter, a four-time Pro Bowler and two-time Super Bowl Champion. The elder Porter was also born in Kansas City, MO, so there is a tie to the town.

On the field, Porter carries himself well. He has good instincts and the speed to run step-for-step with receivers down the field. His ball skills are top-tier and he has good strength and tackling technique. He’s a high-energy player and has great field awareness. Getting off blocks and helping in run support will be something to watch in his final season, but he has the goods to be a high-end player at the next level.

The Chiefs continue to add bodies to the secondary, and Porter would be a fine addition to a secondary that could be losing Rashad Fenton to free agency next offseason.

Safety: BeeJay Williamson (Round 5 Projection)

Oct 2, 2020; Provo, UT, USA; BYU wide receiver Gunner Romney (18) carries the ball as Louisiana Tech s Bee Jay Williamson, center, and Cedric Woods, left, move in for the tackle in the first half during an NCAA college football game Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, in Provo, Utah. Mandatory Credit: Rick Bowmer/Pool Photo-USA TODAY Sports

Chiefs general manager Brett Veach loves secondary players from smaller schools who can make an impact. BeeJay Williamson could join fellow Louisiana Tech Bulldog L'Jarius Sneed in the Chiefs secondary and prove that he can be that kind of player as well.

Williamson has fantastic ball tracking skills, blazing speed and isn’t afraid to lay into someone with a big hit. He can also be utilized as a blitzer and loves to get after the quarterback when his number is called. Williamson simply seems like a great fit for the Chiefs' secondary.

In this writer's opinion, the Chiefs are going to go defense-heavy again in the 2023 araft. They are going to have holes to fill on the defensive line and the first few picks will likely be to shore up those spots. Despite overhauling the secondary and adding more linebacker pieces to the puzzle, don't put it past Veach to add even more depth at those positions.

It’s going to be exciting to have the draft in Kansas City and feel the buzz around town leading up to and during the event. Hopefully, Veach and the Chiefs' front office will be able to hit on a third straight draft next year and perhaps one or two of these prospects will be on their big board.