The Kansas City Chiefs seem to have nailed their first two picks in the 2021 NFL Draft. Both players, former Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton and former Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey, were taken in the second round just over a year ago. The Chiefs didn’t have a first-round or third-round selection, and they needed to hit with the picks they did have.
Enter the Chiefs' fourth-round pick, defensive end Joshua Kaindoh. A highly recruited five-star player out of high school, Kaindoh decided to go to Florida State to push his game toward an NFL future.
He was a role player in his first three seasons with the Seminoles. His freshman season peaked with a four-sack performance against Delaware State. He appeared in every game of his sophomore season in 2018, but only gained one start. His production total was about the same as his freshman season.
He appeared in three games, including one start, in 2019 before suffering a season-ending injury. He ended up red-shirting that season and looked to come back strong for the 2020 campaign.
Of course, the 2020 season was an abnormal one thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kaindoh started eight games for the Seminoles, but his production was meager, finishing the season with 13 tackles, three tackles for loss, one interception, and one pass breakup.
The athletic profile has always been there, but the collegiate production never matched the talent. Some blamed Florida State's coaching for Kaindoh’s inability to show growth on the field, some blamed the injury, while others blamed the pandemic. Whatever the excuses, it was a disappointing college career for the most part.
The Chiefs took a chance on Kaindoh in the 2021 draft. Typically, an edge rusher taken in the fourth round isn’t projected to have a great NFL career. Essentially, he’s a lottery ticket, and if the Chiefs can tap into his potential and help him play up to his athletic ability, they could have a surprise contributor along their defensive line.
Kaindoh essentially had a redshirt season his rookie year in Kansas City. He suffered an ankle injury during Week 4 of the season and was put on IR in early October to officially put an end to his first season as a pro. It ended before it truly began.
It almost feels like the Chiefs have high hopes going into his second season, potentially the first season where he will be fully healthy. The team did invest in the defensive line with a first-round pick in the 2022 draft with Purdue's George Karlaftis, but they didn’t make many other moves. They’ll need someone to step up, so why not Kaindoh?
Frank Clark and Karlaftis are the two many are projecting to start on each end of the defensive line. Then it will come down to Mike Danna, Austin Edwards, Malik Herring, and Kaindoh unless they add another veteran player closer to the season.
Some think Kaindoh has the highest upside of the “next up” guys. To get there, he has a lot to prove. If the coaches can get the most out of his skill set, and if he can stay healthy, there’s no reason to think he shouldn’t be able to become a role player during this upcoming season with a chance to expand his role in the future.