Chiefs 2020 rookie season review: DT Tershawn Wharton

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Charles Goldman
·3 min read
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The Kansas City Chiefs added six draft picks in the 2020 NFL draft and a number of undrafted free agents too. Several of those rookies made contributions during the course of the 2020 regular season and postseason. One undrafted player even played nearly 50% of the Chiefs’ defensive snaps this season.

Let’s take a look at Tershawn Wharton’s rookie season and see what we can project for the future.

Missouri S&T DT Tershawn Wharton - Undrafted

AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann

Stat

2020 totals

Games played

16

Games started

1

Snaps

518

Tackles

27

Tackles for loss

4

Sacks

3

Forced fumble

1

Fumble recovery

1

Pressures

22

Stops

16

2020 season review:

Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Wharton didn't disappoint in his rookie season. He managed to crack the 53-man roster and play 48% of the defensive snaps in Kansas City, which is pretty rare for an undrafted free agent. Elite athleticism combined with the ability to pick up the defense quickly really impressed the coaching staff for the Chiefs and they gave him a shot. The athleticism with Wharton was hyper-apparent at times, like when he chased down Patriots RB James White from behind in Week 4. By Week 7, Wharton basically had established himself as a key rotational piece on the defensive line. He provided a lot of juice working next to Chris Jones that other players really didn't provide on the defensive interior. He had six multi-pressure games this season. The only interior defender with more for the K.C. was Jones.

2021 outlook:

AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Wharton could be in for an even greater total of the snap share in 2021, especially if there is marked improvement in his play. Chris Jones and Derrick Nnadi are likely the two main guys on the interior, but Mike Pennel is a pending free agent. Wharton saw a lot of 1-on-1 situations in 2020 because Chris Jones was seeing a lot of double teams from defenses. He needs to be able to win those 1-on-1 situations quicker and more consistently in 2021. Really the only wild card in terms of snaps on the defensive line right now is third-year DT Khalen Saunders. He's basically been a healthy scratch ever since an elbow injury took him out early in the 2020 season. He'll likely regain some playing time, likely taking over for Pennel in the rotation. So long as Wharton continues to show promise rushing the passer, he'll also continue to see a lot of the snaps for the Chiefs in 2021.

Chiefs 2020 rookie season reviews:

AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann

We'll debut our rookie season reviews over the next several weeks, with the exception of Lucas Niang given the opt out. Check back here for hyperlinks when they're available.

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