When Dick Vermeil arrived in Kansas City a few coaches ago, he made it clear that without some beef up front, you can’t deliver a game changing offense that can score from any position on the field. Those words came to light for Chiefs fans because Vermeil for five seasons arguably had the best offensive line in franchise history.
Fast forward to 2016, the Kansas City Chiefs have the makings of a powerful, versatile offensive line that could become a force in the AFC West slightly below that of the Vermeil era. However, the key to bringing my prognostication to reality status, will be the ability of the five guys up front protecting Quarterback, Alex Smith to pave the road for KC’s playmakers, Jamaal Charles, Travis Kelce and Jeremy Maclin to take flight.
So which of KC's offensive linemen might open the season as the five horsemen up front?
LT Eric Fisher (6’7” / 315) – Enriched with a brand new contact extension, Fisher’s game must take that next step to earn that coin. Though he’ll never become the next Willie Roaf, he has enough tools to play out the balance of his six-year contract at a high level. If he builds upon his 2015 season, and in particular his success in the post season against Houston Texans Defensive J.J. Watt, Fisher will be a cornerstone for KC’s offensive line for a long time.
LG Parker Ehinger (6’6” / 310) – We touched on Ehinger earlier this week but the fact he’s atop the guard depth chart speaks volumes for his ascension from mini-camp to training camp in the eyes of his head coach. I’m glad the Chiefs are giving him a chance because he’s volumes better than any other guard candidate they have on the roster to date. Granted he’s a rookie but playing offensive line in the NFL is an easier jump from the college game to the pro game.
C Mitch Morse (6’6” / 305) – A year ago the Chiefs drafted the former Missouri offensive lineman with the precise desire to put him front and center delivering snaps to Quarterback, Alex Smith. In 2015, Morse didn’t disappoint. With a year under his belt, Morse should be able to improve his pass blocking. There were times a year ago he didn’t gain enough leverage facing some of the NFL’s best interior defensive linemen. However, he made up for it in the running game where he was a steady inside presence for KC’s offense.
RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff (6’5” / 321) – LDT came out of nowhere a year ago to become a starter. That experience should help his confidence as he walks into 2016 as the likely starter at right guard. The only issue I have with LDT is the fact he likes to brawl with his own teammates. He’s already had skirmishes with Jaye Howard and Dontari Poe, pushing things after the whistle ends, that could become in an issue in the regular season against the enemy. Still if it were me making starting decisions, I’d put Jah Reid ahead of LDT. I think Reid is far better suited to play inside than using him as a back up at tackle.
RT Mitchell Schwartz (6’5” / 320) – Signing the former Cleveland Browns offensive lineman in March was the Chiefs single best off-season move they’ve made to date. Schwartz is tough, chiseled, talented and probably one of the best young offensive tackles in the game today. If there was a void a year ago for this offensive line it was at right tackle. Whatever the Chiefs tried it basically struggled to achieve consistency. Schwartz rounds out KC’s vastly improved offensive line that could finally deliver the wrath of Andy Reid’s playbook.