The Kansas City Chiefs boast the top two linebackers in the AFC West according to a recent column by ESPN's Bill Williamson, a major reason why the Chiefs defense played a major part in the team's resurgence. Whether it's the presence of Romeo Crennel organizing the schemes and calling the plays or just the talent that would have eventually broke out anyway, both Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson are exciting athletic playmakers who have as much skill at the position as anyone in the division.
Hali is listed as No. 1 and Johnson right behind him at No. 2. For the year, Hali was second in the NFL in sacks with 14.5 while also forcing four fumbles and making 51 tackles. Hali was a force in every single game for the Chiefs, whether or not he could notch an official sack, as defensive coaches quickly learned they had to scheme specifically for his presence on the field.
Johnson, meanwhile, enjoyed a tremendous breakout year after a disappointing 2009. With 121 tackles, 4 forced fumbles, 1 interception, 16 passes defended and 1 sack, Johnson was a complete playmaker. He can drop back in coverage or come up for the run, but Johnson is always in on every play. In the end, he finally silenced any critics who wondered whether he deserved the first round grade he was given coming out of Texas and became the impact player in the defensive mid-section the Chiefs needed so desperately.
Other notables on the list include No. 6 Von Miller, who has yet to play a single down in the NFL, Rolando McClain at No. 5, the Raiders first round choice last year, and fellow Chiefs at No. 13-15 with Jovan Belcher, Justin Houston and Mike Vrabel clocking in at that order.