The Off-season can be a crazy time for avid football fans and following your team and the moves they make can be exhausting. There were several needs for The Kansas City Chiefs coming into this offseason and Brett Veach and company have addressed several of those needs. K.C. has been aggressive in free agency but missing on some key targets like Trent Williams, Juju Smith-Schuster, or Melvin Ingram. To look at the other side of the coin, the Chiefs have had some big names plant roots here in K.C. like Joe Thuney, Kyle Long, and Jarran Reed. With this year’s draft just right around the corner, let’s take a look at our roster and more specifically the offense to see how free agency has affected the plan coming into the draft.
I want to start with what many considered Kansas City’s #1 need in the offseason. Coming off the loss in the Super Bowl it was blatantly obvious that Kansas City needed to improve its starting talent as well as depth for the offensive line. In Super Bowl 55 Patrick Mahomes ran for almost 500 yards before ever reaching the line of scrimmage. He was literally running for his life behind a makeshift offensive line, which was ravished by injuries. This is not a key to success by any means and frankly, after paying our franchise QB half a billion dollars, is completely unacceptable. Something had to be done to improve this off-season and it seems Veach has appeared to agree. Here’s a list of every offensive lineman on the roster at this moment.
***- ACQUIRED IN FREE AGENCY
· Nick Allegretti
· Austin Blythe***
· Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
· Kyle Long***
· Joe Thuney***
· Bryan Witzmann
· Andrew Wylie
· Mike Remmers
· Darryl Williams
· Lucas Niang
· Martinas Rankin
· Prince Tega Wanogho
This is what my projected O-line after training camp would look like if K.C. does not address the position in the draft:
LT Kyle Long, LG Joe Thuney, C Austin Blythe, RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, RT Lucas Niang.
As you can see the Chiefs front office has added key pieces all throughout the interior of the O-line with little success adding to the Tackle Position. Mike Remmers started for K.C. in Superbowl LV and got torched all day. Although Kansas City recently re-signed Remmers, I believe that signing to be a bridge until Lucas Niang (who opted out of the covid season) is ready to go. If Lucas Niang doesn’t develop, Mike Remmers is a veteran presence to carry the load if Niang is a complete bust, but I remain very high on Niang.
I also listed Kyle Long at LT. Long is a very versatile player and has played both guard and tackle in his time. Long was an LT while playing in Oregon before being drafted. I fully expect K.C. to address the LT position in the draft and there’s also been a lot of talk about how T Orlando Brown should be a top target for the Chiefs. As of right now though, Andy Reid is notorious for playing the best five, and I believe this lineup would provide just that.
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is coming back to football this year after tending to his doctoral duties, while in the midst of the Covid pandemic. I expect him to shore up that RG position upon his return, with new acquisition Joe Thuney in the LG position. Joe Thuney, formerly of the New England Patriots, was a huge pick-up this offseason. Nick Allegretti is somewhat of a fan favorite and has the versatility to be a quality piece of depth, but Allegretti is not on the same level as Joe Thuney.
So that leaves the Center position, which is shored up by a guy named Austin. For the past several years Austin Reiter has commanded the center position, but there’s a new Austin in town. The Chiefs recently signed Austin Blythe to a one-year contract, and Blythe is fully expected to command Kansas City’s center position this year. Blythe is a clear upgrade in the run department.
While this starting lineup might not look too bad and is a definite upgrade compared to last year’s line, I expect the Chiefs to invest significant draft capital. Kansas City has continuously been connected to Liam Eichenberg (LT), from Notre Dame, in numerous mock drafts. Eichenberg would be able to come in a be an immediate contributor, as well as free up Kyle long to either kick over to the RT or kick inside to guard. The offensive lineman that play in K.C. must have the versatility required to play multiple positions along the line. Andy Reid will find a way to play the best five possible.
When you have a future hall of fame tight end like Travis Kelce on your team, a tight end doesn’t always register as a need. Let me remind you of the days of Demetrius Harris though. Yea Harris had hands of stone, but he could block. Running two tight end sets became a nightmare for opposing defensive coordinators.
Even though the tight end wasn't high on the list of needs for many, Brett Veach still reached out to Blake Bell and his agent in order to bolster a key offensive position for K.C. The Chiefs recently re-signed Blake Bell, after Bell spent the 2020 season with the Dallas Cowboys, and it makes perfect sense. It was recently announced that the NFL would add an additional game starting this season, so it makes sense to add depth at TE. Tight end is an integral cog in Andy Reid’s offensive machine, and Blake Bell is very familiar, a very good blocker, and has better hands than Demetrius Harris could ever dream of. Here’s a list of TE’s that are currently on the team.
***- Acquired through free agency
· Travis Kelce
· Nick Keizer
· Blake Bell***
· Sean Culkin
· Evan Baylis
Obviously, Travis Kelce is TE1. Nick Keizer seems to have the coaching staff's trust a bit, but I still believe this is going to be one of the must-watch position battles at training camp. The TE2 battle, between Nick Keizer and Blake Bell, is going to be a fun one to watch. Neither tight end have really good hands but I don’t think they need to fit what K.C. has planned for this next season. (more on that in a few) I think it’s going to come down to who can block better, and, in that regard, I believe Bell might have the advantage.
The Kansas City Chiefs might look to the draft for additional TE help but If they do I wouldn’t expect it to be until day 3 or even undrafted free agents, But I really believe that both Keizer and Bell will make the team and back up Kelce.
Not to keep opening up old wounds but everyone always wants to blame the Offensive line for the Super Bowl loss and while the offensive line was atrocious, the WR’s on the field really let us down. All you can ask for in this league is an opportunity and Kansas City had plenty in that game. The WR’s let us down, time and time and time again. Brian Baldinger does an excellent job showing this in his #BaldysBreakdown.
While Kansas City does have some top-end talent on the roster, Tyreek Hill, the WR2 positions still seem to be up for grabs. Here is a list of WR’s that are on the team.
· Tyreek Hill
· Mecole Hardman
· Demarcus Robinson
· Byron Pringle
· Gehrig Dieter
· Maurice Ffrench
· Jody Fortson
· Marcus Kemp
· Tajae Sharpe
Kansas City seems to have an infatuation with project WR’s with Pringle, Dieter, Kemp, and even Demarcus Robinson. With the departure of Sammy Watkins, there is no clear-cut WR2. I believe the hopes are that either Hardman, Robinson, or Pringle will grow into that, but if I’m playing armchair GM, I wouldn’t bank on that going into this next season. I wouldn’t be surprised a bit if Kansas City’s front office targets a WR by the end of day 2 in this upcoming draft.
· Patrick Mahomes
· Chad Henne
· Jordan Ta’amu
· Anthony Gordon
With Patrick Mahomes being the greatest QB to ever touch a football field, we don’t have much concern with the QB position. The main concern going into free agency was protecting the QB and just making sure if he was to ever go down, K.C. has a competent backup. While there are some fans clamoring for Alex Smith to come back and be the back-up for Mahomes (myself included) the reality is that Chad Henne is more than suitable for the job and on a minimum contract.
The bottom of the QB depth chart is interesting though. Jordan Ta’amu was a star in the XFL league when he played for the St. Louis Blackhawks, and when the XFL was discontinued the Chiefs were extremely quick to pick him up. Ta’amu has a ton of potential and I believe this Reid and Veach’s way of trying to generate draft picks. While having Patrick Mahomes on a mega-contract, it’s crucial to be able to draft well and have legitimate contributors on rookie contracts. The more picks you can generate, rather it be in a trade or compensatory picks, the better your chances.
The last group we have to look at is the RB group. I saved this for last, because I’m most excited about this group. For the sake of not having to create a whole other section for just one player, I included newly added FB Michael Burton. For the moment our RB group looks like this:
***- Acquired in free agency.
· Clyde Edwards-Helaire
· Darrel Williams
· Darwin Thompson
· Elijah McGuire
· Derrick Gore
· (FB) Michael Burton***
Damien Williams was a star in 2019 and crucial to the Chiefs successful Superbowl bid. Williams had a legitimate argument to be named Superbowl MVP (which eventually went to Mahomes) and was so impactful that earned the nickname of “Big game, Dame.” Damien Williams would eventually opt out of the 2020 season to tend to his mother who is fighting stage 4 cancer. Last year the Chiefs drafted Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and his rookie campaign was nothing short of successful, even with a shoddy offensive line.
This is where I start to get excited. This offseason The Kansas City Chiefs would release “Big game, Dame” placing full confidence in their second year back. As mentioned earlier the Chiefs have invested big in the interior of their offensive line, especially in the run-blocking department. K.C. has beefed up the depth of the TE position with TE’s that have more value in their run blocking abilities than their catching skills. Then to top it all off, they have recently signed fullback Michael Burton, when most teams in this era of football don’t even use a fullback anymore. I’m just going to go ahead let y’all know, KANSAS CITY WILL RUN THE BALL THIS YEAR, and they will probably be pretty efficient. The organization has put an emphasis on the run game this year. If the Chiefs can establish a steady run game and not rely on Patrick Mahomes to throw 5,000 yards every year to have any sort of offense, then they will grow offensively once again this year, which should scare every team in the league.
There’s been a lot of changes to the offense this year but yet improvement is still needed. The Chiefs have improved dramatically along the interior of the offensive line though they need to improve the tackle position whether it be in free agency, via trade, or in the draft. K.C. needs to improve on their WR depth and find a legitimate WR2. The Chiefs show full confidence in their RB group and I expect them to have a big year, considering the moves that Chiefs front office has made thus far.
Brett Veach has shown that he has a plan and when we step back for a moment, we can see it develop. Even though Kansas City has had some big misses they have still filled the positions of need with more than competent players. They are gearing up for another Superbowl run and Brett Veach is working his tail off to get it done. He’s put K.C. in a great position with just a little under a month until this year's upcoming draft.
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