What Do the Chiefs Need to Add on the Offensive Line?

A breakdown of the Kansas City Chiefs' current situation at offensive line and how they should address it ahead of the 2021 season.
Author:
Publish date:

The offensive line in Kansas City is about to look drastically different than it has in recent years, as the Chiefs will have two new tackles, moving on from both of their longtime starting tackles, two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Eric Fisher and two-time All-Pro right tackle Mitch Schwartz, and their whole interior looks different as well, adding 2019 All-Pro left guard Joe Thuney, 2014 All-Pro right guard Kyle Long and Rams' starting center Austin Blythe. It makes sense for there to be many changes after what we saw in Super Bowl LV, where numerous injuries resulted in a weak group of linemen playing out of position or with little experience against a great pass rush, leaving quarterback Patrick Mahomes running for his life all game. It was a record-breaking level of pressure faced by Mahomes in that Super Bowl and he should never have to go through that again.

The Chiefs should also expect to bring in two players who opted out prior to the 2020 season, former starting right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who notably left the Chiefs after winning the Super Bowl to help in the fight against COVID-19 in Canada, and 2020 third-round pick Lucas Niang, who is expected to battle with Mike Remmers to be Schwartz's replacement at right tackle in 2021.

Where do the Chiefs stand now?

Currently, I think the Chiefs have four of the five starters already locked in, with Thuney at left guard, Blythe at center, Long or Duvernay-Tardif at right guard and Niang or Remmers at right tackle. This seems like a pretty solid group to me, one that ought to be a middle-of-the-pack group with a good left tackle option added and mostly avoiding injury. However, that does mean they would have to add a left tackle, with the current group of tackles having extremely limited NFL experience with Martinas Rankin, Prince Tega Wanogho and Yasir Durant. Rankin has shown potential, but it's probably better to look elsewhere.

This would mean that Rankin, Wanogho, Durant and either Niang or Remmers would be the backup tackles and the interior depth would consist mainly of Nick Allegretti and either Long or Duvernay-Tardif. If that tackle depth seems like too much and the interior depth seems a bit shallow, the Chiefs could also move Rankin to guard, as he has shown he can play there and be effective. Not too bad in my book!

What can the Chiefs do?

The free-agent market has become somewhat barren, but that doesn't mean there are no options. Some key options still available are two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Russell Okung, who the Chiefs have already "checked in on", two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Alejandro Villaneuva and the Chiefs' recent starting center, Austin Reiter, if they decide they want to have a competition at center.

In the draft, this is a fantastic time to need an offensive tackle, with 12 or more tackles possibly going in the top 100. There are three guys that the Chiefs can't get at pick No. 31, the top three on the following list, but after them, the options are still great, though it could be tough for the Chiefs to make the puzzle pieces fit.

TDN OT Rankings Days 1-2

Teven Jenkins from Oklahoma State looks remarkable, though he played at right tackle much more than he did at left tackle there. Michigan's Jalen Mayfield also looks awesome, but he was also primarily a right tackle. North Dakota State's Dillon Radunz is good and actually plays left tackle, but he wasn't as good Jenkins or Mayfield and he has the issue that all players from North Dakota State have, playing FCS football. Liam Eichenberg of Notre Dame produced quite well in college, too, but his issue is that he sorely lacks on arm length, having a 32 3/8" arm length according to his Pro Day. Texas' Samuel Cosmi performed quite well and was also a left tackle, but he doesn't look quite as good as Jenkins or Mayfield either. Alabama's Alex Leatherwood is a great prospect as well but is considered by many to be a guard in the NFL rather than a tackle. Unfortunately, like with Eichenberg, there is an issue of arm length here. The only player here with an arm length in excess of 33 1/2" is Leatherwood, the likeliest guy to not play tackle in the NFL.

If I were in charge of this situation, I would try to get Okung in free agency for cheap to be the starting left tackle in 2021 and then any of Jenkins, Mayfield, Eichenberg or Cosmi early to fill the rookie 2020-Niang role. My starting offensive line would consist of Okung, Thuney, Blythe, Long and Niang and my backup offensive line would be the drafted rookie tackle, Rankin, Allegretti, Duvernay-Tardif and Remmers. On paper, that is a tremendous group. The starting group should be above-average and then the depth should prevent a Super Bowl-like disaster situation.

For more Kansas City Chiefs analytics and analysis, follow @SIChiefs and @WichitaChiefSam on Twitter.