Left end: Mike DeVito, Jaye Howard. Howard started last season after DeVito ruptured his Achilles tendon in the season opener. DeVito is an improvement if he's healthy. Better or worse than 2014? Better.
Nose tackle: Dontari Poe, Rakeem Nunez-Roches. The Chiefs have rarely taken the 346-pound Poe from their lineup. He might be a more effective player with a little more rest. Better or worse than 2014? Even.
Left outside linebacker: Justin Houston, Dee Ford. This makes the assumption that Houston, the Chiefs' franchise player, will sign a contract with the Chiefs. Better or worse than 2014? Even with Houston, worse without him.
Left inside linebacker: Derrick Johnson, Ramik Wilson. Johnson returns from missing almost all of last season because of a ruptured Achilles tendon. If he comes back as the same player, this is a huge upgrade. Better or worse than 2014? Better.
Right outside linebacker: Tamba Hali, Frank Zombo. Hali slumped to six sacks last season, his lowest total since early in his career. He still has value to the Chiefs as a pass-rusher, run defender and in coverage. Better or worse than 2014? Even.
Left cornerback: Marcus Peters, Jamell Fleming. Even if Peters, the first-round draft pick, wins the starting job, it might take some time before he's a lot better than Fleming. He played surprisingly well as a part-time starter last season. Better or worse than 2014? Even.
Right cornerback: Sean Smith, Phillip Gaines. Smith faces a possible NFL suspension after his recent guilty plea for DUI. That would take the Chiefs' best cornerback and their only established player at the position out of their lineup. Better or worse than 2014? Even.
Nickel back: Phillip Gaines, Steven Nelson. Nelson, a third-round draft pick, figures to play a lot, perhaps more than Gaines. Either way, the Chiefs should be better off than with Chris Owens last year. Better or worse than 2014? Better.