On the surface, the Kansas City Chiefs signed Vance Walker to replace Tyson Jackson as a starting defensive end. Jackson signed as a free agent with the Atlanta Falcons and the Chiefs signed Walker from the Oakland Raiders.
If Walker can play sturdy run defense, he will do for the Chiefs what Jackson did last season. But if he can rush the quarterback with any consistency, he will be even more productive for the Chiefs than Jackson.
Jackson never developed as a pass-rusher the way the Chiefs had hoped in 2009 when they drafted him with the third overall pick. He mostly played on running downs and had just nine sacks in his five seasons with the Chiefs, including a career-best four in 2013.
Walker wasn't a part-time player in Oakland last season. He was in the game for more than half of the defensive snaps in the 15 games he played. In most of those, he played a heavy majority of the snaps.
Pro Football Focus rated him a better pass-rusher than run defender. He had three sacks and 32 quarterback hurries, defined as plays where pressure forced the passer to get rid of the ball.
In comparison, Jackson had several games last season in which he played fewer than half the snaps. He had four sacks for a better pass-rushing team than Walker played, but just eight hurries. PFF had him rated as a much better run defender than pass-rusher.
"I would hope so," Walker said Monday, when asked whether the Chiefs told him they would use him as a pass-rusher. "It's also on me to prove to those guys what I'm capable of doing and once I do that I'm sure [Andy Reid] will do exactly what he feels is necessary to help the team. I know I'm capable of doing both of those things, stopping the run and rushing the passer, easily."