Three Things to Watch For During Chiefs OTAs

As the Kansas City Chiefs' OTAs begin this week, here are the three storylines to keep an eye on as preparation begins for the 2021 NFL season.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

The Kansas City Chiefs' organized team activities — OTAs — start on Tuesday, taking another step in full-team preparation for the 2021 NFL season. While it's still extremely early in the offseason-to-preseason transition, there should be plenty of storylines to keep an eye on during these early workouts. Here are the three top questions I'll be asking and looking for answers to.

1. Who shows up?

As many teams around the league have organized various forms of boycotts for voluntary offseason activities, the Chiefs opened their offseason workout program with 81 players present, according to Herbie Teope of The Kansas City Star. I expect the Chiefs to have a mostly full house again for OTAs, but the specifics of who does and doesn't show up will bear watching.

2. Who starts on the offensive line?

Assuming that the full class of offensive linemen will show up for OTAs, the most pressing question will come on the o-line. The Chiefs' left tackle will be Orlando Brown Jr. and their left guard will be Joe Thuney. Beyond that, the Chiefs have a ton of questions on the offensive line. The good news is that they should have plenty of answers.

The Chiefs' new-look line will not be decided in May. It may not even be decided halfway through training camp. But it will be extremely interesting to see who starts with the inside track. KC has legitimate competitions at center with second-round pick Creed Humphrey matching up with free-agent addition Austin Blythe, at right guard with returning veteran Laurent Duvernay-Tardif vs. unretired vet Kyle Long, and redshirt-rookie Lucas Niang going up against last year's right tackle, Mike Remmers.

Typically, early-offseason camp battles favor the incumbent, but with the exception of Remmers, the aforementioned o-linemen didn't play for the Chiefs last season. I expect Blythe, LDT and Remmers to get the first-team reps out of the gate, but I would be happy to see Humphrey and Niang getting major work early in the offseason. With Blythe and Remmers on one-year deals, the Chiefs clearly see Humphrey and Niang as long-term answers at center and right tackle. Getting them into the swing early would be fine by me.

3. Who will become WR2?

After pursuing JuJu Smith-Schuster and other free agents this offseason, the Chiefs ultimately got less-talented and less-proven at the wide receiver spot in the early months of 2021, including the loss of former WR2 Sammy Watkins.

With the returns of Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle on one-year deals joining Mecole Hardman (all behind Tyreek Hill, of course), one of those three should have the best chance of becoming the Chiefs' second wide receiver, with tight end Travis Kelce clearly being the de facto first or second option in the offense.

I'm cautiously optimistic about rookie fourth-round pick Cornell Powell, but he certainly isn't coming into the NFL with Watkins's college résumé — or, in fairness, his durability concerns. Regardless of Powell's ceiling, I don't think it's fair to ask a rookie to become the third receiving option (and second wideout choice) in his first year in the league, all in Andy Reid's offense — and most likely the best in the league.

Much like the new-look offensive line, the Chiefs' second wide receiver position won't be settled in the spring, but it will be interesting to note how the Chiefs start their offseason in contrast with the first snaps of Week 1.

Read More: Should the Chiefs Trade for Julio Jones?