Super Bowl 55; just those two words and that number bring back flashbacks Chiefs’ fans and players wish they had never seen. Mahomes was running for his life, he took hit after hit, the line itself kept on becoming shredded cheese, and the Chiefs’ offensive lineman were hugging each other at one point. It was a slaughter Chiefs Kingdom shall never forget.
However, after that scorn-felt day, the Chiefs’ front office and Chiefs general manager Brett Veach thought to themselves, “this shall not happen again”; over the past two months, we’re reaping the results. The Chiefs may have lost Reiter, Fisher, and Schwartz, but they gained so much in a fair share of time. All will tremble before this Chiefs’ new offensive line, and rightfully so.
Disclaimer: This article is breaking down the new additions for the Chiefs offensive line; the positions are just there for what they will/may play next season.
On April 23rd, 2021, the Chiefs and Ravens made a trade; the Chiefs received Orlando Brown, the 2021 second-round pick (No. 58), and a 2022 sixth-round pick, and the Ravens received the Chiefs’ 2021 first-round pick (No. 31 overall), a third-rounder (94), fourth-round pick (136), and a 2022 fifth-round. The left tackle is the second most important position on that field besides quarterback, and Veach snagged a good one.
You need someone to protect Mahomes, well Brown can do just that. After starting 16 games at left tackle last season, he played 389 pass-blocking snaps; he didn’t allow a single sack. That is absolutely monstrous! In the Super Bowl, Mahomes was running for his life, and now he won’t have to worry about being sacked from his blindside for a vast majority of the season; he has shown that he can take on two guys if he has to.
In run blocking, he has shown to be stellar as well. He sticks with his blocking assignments, possesses enough speed to get to the next level, and can shut off defenders’ tackling angles. He has also shown that he has great strength, shoving defenders away and creating holes that the running back can run through. After signing the majority of players listed below, he was one of the final pieces that solidified the o-line as a prominent one.
LG: Joe Thuney
On March 15th, 2021, the Chiefs signed guard Joe Thuney to a five-year deal worth 80 million dollars. This was their first main addition to an o-line that had to be restructured immediately. Thuney was a player that multiple teams were looking to sign, but luckily, he chose to sign with the Kingdom.
Joe Thuney is a durable offensive lineman; he never missed a game for the Patriots in his five-year stint with them. Since 2018, Thuney has played 2,008 pass-blocking snaps, and in those snaps, he has only allowed three sacks. That means on every pass play, there is a .0015% chance that a sack will occur. I don’t know about you, but those are excellent numbers in my book. Also, last season he was ranked tenth in passing blocking for guards in PFF’s pass block rankings; moreover, he was the ninth-highest ranked guard last season.
Thuney can also play anywhere on the field; he has taken snaps at guard, center, and tackle. In college, he was ranked the highest-rated pass blocking OT in college football’s 2015 season at NC State. This was a spectacular signing by Veach and the front office.
C: Austin Blythe & Creed Humphrey
Since these are both new Chiefs’ and that it’ll be a battle for who starts at center, let’s break them down both respectfully:
Austin Blythe signed a one-year, $990k contract Blythe is a serviceable center; he has started all but one game in the last three seasons, proving he’s a durable center. He is fairly decent in run blocking, posting a decent 61.7 run-blocking grade (PFF). On Blythe himself, he has been shown to pick out blitzes, so he has a great football IQ. His strength is his strongest spot, where he has been shown to box defenders out and toss them to the grass.
However, while that may be true, his pass blocking is among the worst in the league, giving him a 52.5 grade, ranking him #63rd overall. Compared to Reiter, this is more than ten times worse as Reiter was ranked fifth overall. The Chiefs need good pass blockers; we all saw Super Bowl 55. It looks like this was more of a “just in case” signing than anything.
Now comes the NFL draft where with the 63rd pick, the Kansas City Chiefs select Creed Humphrey, the 6’4″, 302-pound center from Oklahoma. If you want an excellent pass blocker, he’s one right here. In 2445 career snaps at Oklahoma spanning from 2018-2020, he allowed zero sacks, two QB hits, and 27 QB hurries. Those are great numbers for someone who played all those snaps. Just by seeing the zero sacks alone shows he’s a true pass blocker.
I’ve talked about his skill set in an older article of mine, so I’ll reiterate some of my points on him. He is a durable offensive lineman, never missing a game for Oklahoma. He can keep his feet moving no matter what, shoving defensive lineman off, and has shown he can get to that next level in time. He has spectacular vision, which helps him see holes within the o-line that he could pug up and helps him see holes he can create for the runner to go through.
Varying on how training camp and the whole offseason goes, I see Humphrey being the center and Blythe being an RG, which he played at for the Rams, or Blythe will be a solid backup interior o-line. Again, these were some great pickups by Veach and the Chiefs organization.
RG/RT: Kyle Long
On March 15th, 2021, the Chiefs signed guard Kyle Long to a one-year, five-million-dollar contract. This was a much-needed signing as even though the Chiefs signed Thuney earlier in the offseason, the Chiefs still needed depth at the offensive line, Long is a three-time Pro Bowl right guard (two times) and right tackle (once). Varying on what happens with the Creed vs Humphrey battle, we will see what happens with him.
Long is a great offensive lineman, and the film proves it. He can keep his feet planted no matter if the rusher relies on speed or power. When he has to, he has great footwork that keeps the defenders away from the pocket; this also helps box out defenders for the whole play. He also has a good enough speed and agility that allows him to get to the second level. His pad play is outstanding too.
The options laid out for Long are as follows: he will either start at right guard, right tackle, or be a backup for the right side of the o-line when someone gets hurt. He’s versatile, so he can plug and play anywhere on the right side of that gargantuan wall created by the Chiefs. This was yet another amazing signing for Veach.
RT: Lucas Niang
Technically, he’s not a new addition, but he will be taking his first reps as a Chiefs after opting out of the 2020 NFL season. Niang was selected in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft by the Kansas City Chiefs. Niang was an excellent pass blocker as he never allowed a sack in 2018, making him the highest-graded offensive lineman in the Big-10 by Pro Football Focus, and he never allowed one as well in 2019.
Niang is an interesting prospect. The 6’6″, 315-pound lineman has shown great quickness and speed, aiding him in getting to second level faster than most o-linemen in his draft class. He has the ability to seal off the defenders’ angle to tackle, along with securing them away from the play indefinitely. His amazing footwork helps with that as well. While his blocking technique isn’t star-striking, it can still be improved at the NFL level with the help of the Chiefs coaching staff.
Where he will play varies on what happens with the rest of the interior o-line. He could easily be a starter, but he can also be a backup to Long as well if he’s placed at RT. It will be interesting to see what happens this offseason.
Possible Starter: IOL: Trey Smith
The other offensive lineman drafted in the sixth round of the 2021 NFL Draft was none other than Trey Smith. If you haven’t heard already, he was a first-round talent that dropped to the sixth round due to blood clots in his lungs. Smith is a 6’5″, 330-pound guard from the University of Tennesse. He was outstanding at his time in Tennesse as shown below:
I’ve talked about Smith recently here, so be sure to check that out. Smith was one of the most explosive IOL in college football, being able to bulldoze anyone that was in front of him. He has great vision, and he’s able to plug up holes and create holes with ease.
However, if he plays as he has played at Tennessee, he will guarantee himself a roster spot, along with the possibility of being a starter for the interior o-line for the Kansas City Chiefs. He was a pick that was a low risk with a high reward.
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