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Kansas City Chiefs learn lessons on offensive line, bulk up for position battles in 2015

From a strength to a weakness to a strength? The Chiefs GM certainly hopes so.

Al Bello/Getty Images

No one named Moses was involved, but last year at this time was most certainly an exodus. One offensive lineman after another left the Kansas City Chiefs for greener (read: richer) pastures, taking the money available in free agency since John Dorsey decided he would replace them on the cheap.

Now, it seems, the Chiefs GM has had a change of heart.

You might remember the line of cars leaving Kansas City. Left tackle Branden Albert cashed in with a desperate Miami Dolphins franchise that had flirted with Albert for quite some time. Right guard Jon Asamoah lost his starting job, but found a decent sum with the Atlanta Falcons. His replacement, Geoff Schwartz, found a high bidder in the New York Giants. Just like that, the Chiefs lost two starters and their top reserve along the offensive front that had already replaced Eric Winston and Ryan Lilja the previous season.

"All along we've known we had a couple cracks in the foundation last year and we've always wanted to strengthen the foundation." -John Dorsey

"All along we've known we had a couple cracks in the foundation last year and we've always wanted to strengthen the foundation," Dorsey told the local reporters on Wednesday. "On both sides you want a really strong foundation moving forward."

In retrospect, Dorsey's mindset seemed to be that the Chiefs had enough upside to handle the losses. To his credit, he might have been right if injuries and suspensions hadn't played a part. Donald Stephenson missed the first four games of the season and never started another game even after returning for three-quarters of the season. Jeff Allen missed almost the entire season with an elbow injury. Suddenly the Chiefs were relying heavily on veteran free agents and a sixth round pick.

Even then, Dorsey should have known that would happen. Such ill fortunes fall upon nearly every team in the NFL every single season. Injuries are a part of the game. Off-field events affect on-field availability. And when the Chiefs had to turn to their replacements, the results weren't pretty.

Now the cupboard is full once again. In fact, it might be overly so. Questions remain at center and right tackle, but Dorsey has already taken care of guard by acquiring two players who could be starting by early September in Ben Grubbs and Paul Fanaika. Both will compete with Jeff Allen and Zach Fulton, two players who could also be starting in early September in those same places.

Center is the biggest concern with only returning reserve Eric Kush on the roster. Allen could conceivably take some reps there, but that's certainly no plan. Turning to tackle, Eric Fisher will undoubtedly man the left side, but right tackle, as it currently stands, will come down to Stephenson and/or Allen as both players look to put a disappointing season behind them. Given that both are eligible for free agency, it's a good bet to throw them both into the mix and watch what happens in contract seasons.

Here's the most incredible part of all of this. The Chiefs still have the entire NFL Draft to go. The Chiefs are expected to have as many as 10 picks even after trading a fifth rounder to New Orleans in the Ben Grubbs trade, which means you can expect several more young players to join the competition. At the very least, the Chiefs will select a center and even then a tackle and potentially a versatile project player could be among those taken.

When all is said and done, the Chiefs are likely going to have significant competition at nearly every position along the line. The rigors of the NFL season will take their toll next year but this time around the Chiefs should be able to weather the storms much more effectively. It was a hard lesson learned from last season, but it seems Dorsey is all the wiser for it.

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