As training camp progresses over the next few weeks, the AP Nerd Squad continues to break down the Chiefs roster position by position. We’re working from the top of the depth chart to the bottom, briefing you about how we think each position group will set up.
The interior of the offensive line has had some significant turnover. Accounting for these changes will bring challenges. Here’s how we see it.
Writing about the IOL for the season preview series and I have to come up with "the guy" for the group. pic.twitter.com/sh26gX2BdA— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) July 31, 2020
The interior offensive line has quietly gone through some significant changes this offseason. Much has been made about 20 of 22 starters returning for the Chiefs this year, but with Laurent Duvernay-Tardif’s recent announcement that he’ll be opting out of 2020 — and with Stefen Wisniewski moving on in free agency — both starting guards from the Super Bowl are now gone.
So by default, Austin Reiter is now the leader of the group. In 2019, Reiter had a very shaky first season as the starter; he was very often the weak link along the interior of the offensive line. The good news is that he played what might have been his best game in the Super Bowl. The Chiefs will need him to tap into his 2019 experience to lead a group that is going through shakeups to his left and right.
New kid on the block
Kelechi Osemele isn’t quite a kid — but he can block.
Osemele's pass pro isn't passive, and there are a multitude of reps where he drives the DT back to the original line of scrimmage, re-expanding the pocket.— Craig Stout (@barleyhop) July 26, 2020
Stepping up into the pocket for the quarterback is significantly easier and makes life for OT's vs speed rushers better. pic.twitter.com/HhVopNIC72
This recent addition to the offensive line brings the steady veteran presence the group will need as they deal with personnel turnover. Osemele is a little different than the physical prototypes the Chiefs have typically sought in free agency and the draft; he’s not an outstanding athlete. But while he may not be the best mover, he’s smart, stout in pass protection and a people-mover in the running game. To this point, he’s had a very good career. Now he’s getting a chance to compete for a Super Bowl while protecting the best player in the world. Osemele is in Kansas City to start at left guard in Week 1.
Martinas Rankin has a chance of starting Week 1 at right guard.
Martinas Rankin has gotten his shot the last 2 weeks and has more than held his own— Matt Lane (@ChiefinCarolina) October 23, 2019
One of his better skills is how active his hands remain throughout the rep
- Initial punch jolts DT
- Hands are high and removed
- Pops feet back and gets inside hand low
- Continues re-working pic.twitter.com/VQnyGsUSIG
In their trade for Rankin (a recent Top 100 pick), the Chiefs got three years of club control in exchange for one year from journeyman running back Carlos Hyde. Rankin performed admirably, showing promise along the interior before a season-ending injury.
He possesses the versatility that offensive line coach Andy Heck covets. At Mississippi State (and in his short stint with the Texans), Rankin played inside and outside — but he profiles best inside. That’s why he’ll probably be a very active participant in the competition at guard. If the recovery from his patella injury has gone well, I’d slate Rankin in at the right guard — along with Reiter and Osemele.
It feels like a three-way battle for one starting spot next to Osemele and Reiter. Rankin will likely be competing with Andrew Wylie and Mike Remmers to become one of what Heck calls the “five best.” All three of them have some tackle experience, but you’d best believe that one of them will be relied upon to start at right guard Week 1 against the Texans.
Remmers has the most experience, but he is a recent addition to the Chiefs roster; this is his first year in Andy Reid’s offense. In 2018, Wylie showed promise en route to winning the Mack Lee Hill Award as the Chiefs’ top rookie, but it was disappointing last year — perhaps because of injury. As the sleeper, I’d pick Rankin to win this competition.
Still, the Chiefs should be able to survive with any of them at right guard. The question is whether any of them can take a step up and provide more than just a serviceable performance. There is still upside with Rankin and hope for Wylie — and Remmers brings solid experience to the mix.
It remains to be seen which player will win out, but the competition should be good for a position the Chiefs will need to be solidified in Duvernay-Tardif’s absence.
Who starts on the IOL with Austin Reiter and Kelechi Osemele?
This poll is closed