This morning, it broke that the Kansas City Chiefs were releasing both starting offensive tackles: Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. It was a big move right before free agency; Our John Dixon has already broke down the cap ramifications of this move.
Now, there’s no question that the Chiefs will be addressing offensive tackle in April’s draft. But before we get into that, I looked at the solutions that are currently on the team:
Rankin has 358 NFL snaps as an offensive tackle — 337 as a left tackle and 21 as a right tackle. In 2020, Rankin’s only offensive snaps came as the left tackle in Week 17; he played 100% of the game’s snaps there. In 2019, he had one snap at right tackle — filling in for Schwartz on one play before getting injured. He had 271 snaps as a left guard otherwise. In his rookie season with the Houston Texans, he saw 284 snaps at left tackle, 20 snaps at right tackle, and 110 at left guard.
The Chiefs love using their depth to play all spots along the five-man front. They’ve utilized Rankin’s versatility, but it’s apparent that they consider him an offensive tackle objectively. He’s the most logical in-house option to replace either Fisher or Schwartz, although his experience at left tackle likely leans him in that direction.
Before opting out of his rookie NFL season, Niang anchored the right tackle position for TCU for two seasons.
After Niang was drafted, general manager Brett Veach expressed that he could be an option for the guard position in the short-term. That made sense when there were two long-time starters ahead of him, but now, there’s no reason to move him from the tackle position. He may need to work at both tackle spots though.
It would be a pleasant surprise if Niang was ready to be the starting right (or left) tackle. He has a high ceiling, but the team can’t expect him to be close to it in his first real NFL season.
Restricted free-agent option
While he’s mostly played guard in his career, Wylie took 188 snaps at right tackle from Week 15 through Super Bowl LV due to injuries. He had two snaps at right tackle in 2019, but no other non-preseason snaps at either offensive tackle position. In his first training camp with the team, they had him working at the tackle spot as well as guard.
Wylie needs to be tendered to return to the team, and that move especially makes sense now. Wylie admirably played right tackle against the New Orleans Saints in Week 15, although his second stint in the Super Bowl wasn’t as impressive. Either way, he has familiarity with the system and can be plugged in as a serviceable fill-in. That will be valuable in the first season with two new starting offensive tackles.
Which player has the best chance to be a starting tackle for the Chiefs in 2021?
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