As training camp kicks off for the Kansas City Chiefs, the right guard position is one that seems to be up for grabs. If things go as planned, rookie Trey Smith should separate from the pack and claim the starting gig.
With that said, Smith won't have an easy road to securing that job. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is returning to the team after fighting the good fight against the COVID-19 pandemic for a year. He was a somewhat reliable starter before that and is looking to pick up where he left off. Duvernay-Tardif is the first obstacle Smith must overcome.
Secondly, Kyle Long's lower-leg injury certainly doesn't remove him from the competition. The 32-year-old is working to get healthy and back into game shape after spending a year away from the league in a brief retirement. At his best, he's a versatile and productive offensive lineman. Right guard is his ideal position with the Chiefs and if he rejoins the team later in camp, he can perhaps regain pole position there.
Then, of course, veteran Andrew Wylie also factors into the picture at some point. He may be on the outside looking in, but he has experience under his belt and a chip on his shoulder. Arrowhead Report's Sam Hays joined me on today's Roughing the Kicker podcast to discuss how the new-look Chiefs offensive line may manifest itself and why Smith has a case to be the starter.
The Chiefs seem to be going with a youth movement of sorts along the offensive line. The oldest player between left tackle Orlando Brown Jr., center Creed Humphrey and right tackle Lucas Niang is 25 years old (Brown). At just 22 years of age, Smith has the opportunity to accelerate that movement even more.
Smith is well respected and more than capable of holding things down at right guard. He received a ton of reps at the collegiate level and is a mature player with a solid understanding of his strengths. He's also a plus athlete for the position and carries an obvious mean streak with him to the field. If there was ever a year for the Chiefs to deploy rookies next to each other on the line, it would be this season with Humphrey and Smith.
If Smith is able to win the right guard job coming out of training camp, it will say a lot more about him than the competition he faced. Duvernay-Tardif, Long and Wylie are relatively known factors. There isn't much room for projection or growth with any of them. Smith brings both, and in bundles.
The Chiefs need to develop chemistry amongst their offensive line group early in the season. The Week 1 personnel may be the same as the unit that takes the field for a potential playoff run, but the product should be vastly improved. Assuming Smith proves he's capable of doing so, he should be a part of that organic progression. There's too much upside there for him to be ignored for much longer.
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