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Why Rakeem Nunez-Roches is the Chiefs’ breakout player this season

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There was a reason the Chiefs could let Dontari Poe walk this spring. Retired NFL defensive end Stephen White breaks it down.

Kansas City Chiefs v Denver Broncos Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Rakeem Nunez-Roches is an interior defensive lineman for the Kansas City Chiefs who caught my eye watching film. He's not real big at 6'2" 307 pounds but he's a handful. He's a strong guy who holds the point well against double teams, is versatile enough to play all over the interior and while he plays in a 3-4 defense, he really excels on those occasions where they line him up in the gap and let him get up the field.

Nunez-Roches should also generate more of a pass rush than he did last season., especially against play action pass. With his get off, strength and a few nice moves I can see him being a guy that helps to collapse the pocket and make things easier for KC's edge rushers like Justin Houston and Dee Ford. And vice versa. If he stays healthy I could easily see Nunez-Roches coming home with 5+ sacks this season. Mind you he only had one sack last season so 5+ would definitely be a significant jump in production. With him assuming a starting role I would expect Nunez-Roches' tackle numbers to go way up too, for that matter.

And look, just him starting for a whole season would be a big deal at this point. I mean after all this is a guy who started last season off getting cut heading into his second year in the league and then brought back to the practice squad with the Chiefs. It wasn't until Kansas City had a rash of injuries that Nunez-Roches was even called back up to the active roster and man did he make the most of that opportunity. He ended up with five starts in 11 games and had 23 tackles to go along with that one aforementioned sack.

Last year Nunez-Roches showed he belonged in the NFL. This year I think he shows he belongs as a starter in the league. Considering how far he has come to how far I think he will go this season as the is what made Rakeem Nunez-Roches an easy choice to be Kansas City's breakout player of 2017.