KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Everyday we get closer to the start of the NFL season and while fans have to wait until September to watch their favorite teams step on the gridiron for the regular season, Pro Football Focus is ranking the different units around the league.

When it comes to linebackers, the Kansas City Chiefs are moving forward with youth at their core with Willie Gay Jr. and Nick Bolton at the helm.

Bolton and Gay are entering their second and third seasons, respectively, and with the departure of veteran Anthony Hitchens this offseason, they will be the most likely duo to take on the brunt of the defensive responsibilities.

A position of concern and potential weakness heading into last season has become a real strength for Kansas City. Nick Bolton and Willie Gay are two young linebackers who came on strong last season. Bolton, then a rookie, produced one of the highest individual grades for a linebacker. Gay hasn’t graded as well but possesses the characteristics to become a top linebacker. 

Pro Football Focus

PFF ranks the Chiefs as having the No. 9 linebacker room in the league ahead of Super Bowl LVII champions the Los Angeles Rams.

  1. San Francisco 49ers
  2. Indianapolis Colts
  3. New Orleans Saints
  4. Green Bay Packers
  5. Minnesota Vikings
  6. Dallas Cowboys
  7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  8. Seattle Seahawks
  9. Kansas City Chiefs
  10. Los Angeles Rams

The AFC West has become a gauntlet with a myriad of big-time moves this offseason, but the Chiefs come in as the highest ranking team of linebackers in the division, with none of the other three teams ranked higher than 20th.

  • Kansas City Chiefs – 9th
  • Denver Broncos – 20th
  • Las Vegas Raiders – 23rd
  • Los Angeles Charges – 29th

Bolton and Gay combined for 160 tackles in the 2021 regular season, with Bolton, a rookie, leading the team with 112.

Bolton also led the team in tackles-for-loss with 11 and added an 86-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown.

The duo also provided pass coverage, combining for 7 passes defended and Gay adding 2 interceptions.

In the 2022 NFL Draft, the Chiefs added even more youth to the linebackers room when they picked Wisconsin linebacker Leo Chenal from the University of Wisconsin in the third round.