We'll be starting Kansas City Chiefs positional previews before the start of training camp next week. Up today are the offensive linemen.
Unofficial depth chart:
OT: Eric Fisher, Donald Stephenson, Derek Sherrod, Jarrod Pughsley, Tavon Rooks
G: Ben Grubbs, Jeff Allen, Mitch Morse, Zach Fulton, Paul Fanaika, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Marcus Reed
C: Eric Kush, Mitch Morse, Garrett Frye
Changes: G Mike McGlynn, C Rodney Hudson, G Jeff Linkenbach and T Ryan Harris are out; Grubbs, Allen (injury), Stephenson (suspension) are in.
Will Eric Fisher make the third year leap?
Fisher's rookie year saw him transitioning from college football to the pros as well as a shift from the left to the right side. His second year saw him recovering from offseason surgery which didn't let him put on the strength that he wanted. Entering his third year, Fisher has everything he needs to make the leap. If he doesn't do it this year then the Chiefs need to start thinking about the long-term future at tackle.
Ben Grubbs is the biggest upgrade of the year
The Chiefs new left guard came over in a trade from the Saints. He is the veteran of the group even though he's only been here for a few months. The Chiefs need to hope that Grubbs' presence can help Fisher get better. The addition of Fisher is arguably the biggest upgrade on the Chiefs entire team as they go from former Pro Bowler Grubbs from Mike McGlynn, who graded out as one of the worst guards in the league last season.
Eric Kush leading the center battle?
If we're basing this off of how they lined up in OTAs this would be correct. Eric Kush, who is replacing Rodney Hudson at center, took more first team center snaps than rookie Mitch Morse, who also saw time at guard. Kush appears to have the physical tools but does he have the awareness to command a leadership position at center? That's the question, and one we don't have a good read on considering how little playing time Kush has seen in his first two years in the league.
Right guard, right tackle and the swing tackle
These three are all linked. Jeff Allen lined up at right guard most often during OTAs while Donald Stephenson, who hardly played last year, was on the right side. I believe that's how the Chiefs will line up when the season starts. However, if there is an injury at guard or tackle, it creates questions for the Chiefs. In the event that Allen is hurt, the Chiefs need to decide who backs him up -- Rookie Mitch Morse? Last year's starter Zach Fulton? Free agent signing Paul Fanaika? Laurent Duvernay-Tardif? That's something that needs to be decided during camp. In the event that a tackle goes down, the Chiefs could slide Allen over to tackle -- or perhaps Derek Sherrod -- but then they would be in the same position trying to find another guard.
I wondered if Allen could be potential trade bait given he's entering the final year of his contract but his value to the Chiefs as a potential swing tackle is likely too high to consider that.
Who are the locks?
I see Eric Fisher and Ben Grubbs as the two locks on the left side. Mitch Morse will make the team somewhere while Eric Kush is also likely to make it. I would also add in Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson as near locks. From there? A lot of questions ... Paul Fanaika signed a three-year deal so he's likely in even if he's a backup ... Zach Fulton started 16 games last year so I don't see them giving up on him yet ... That's eight linemen right there. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif? Maybe there's one more spot.