Roster analysis 2013 to 2014: LB

Here’s another installment of our detailed look at the Kansas City Chiefs roster by position with a determination whether they improved or not since the end of last season. Keep in mind that the Chiefs can continue to make roster moves and could make significant additions or subtractions before they arrive at training camp. But the bulk of the roster they will take to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph is intact.

We’ll continue here with the linebackers.

End of 2013: Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Akeem Jordan, Justin Houston, Robert James, Nico Johnson, Josh Martin, Dezman Moses, Frank Zombo.

Serious 2014 roster candidates: Hali, Derrick Johnson, Houston, Nico Johnson, Martin, Moses, Zombo, Dee Ford, Joe Mays, James-Michael Johnson.

Analysis: Hali, Houston and Derrick Johnson are Pro Bowlers but Hali is 30 and Johnson 31, so it’s time to watch their games for signs of decline. Houston, meanwhile, is just heading into the prime of his career. He had 11 sacks in just 11 games last year and could challenge for the league lead if he stays healthy. Ford, as the first-round draft pick, is the major addition. He’s transitioning from college defensive end and may play only in passing situations. Beyond that, rookies often don’t have impact as pass-rushers early in their careers, so it’s wise not to count on much from him in that regard. Mays is the other addition. He replaces Jordan, who quietly had a nice season for the Chiefs as a run defender.

Better or worse? Better. We’re predicting Hali and Derrick Johnson continue to play well and Houston to stay in the lineup and have a big season. It’s a big win if the Chiefs get a lot from Ford.