On the Friday edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory, we spent the whole show discussing the offensive line — the exits of Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz and Austin Reiter and the Chiefs’ plans in 2021. As part of this, we all came up with scenarios for the starting five along the offensive line.
Here was one of the scenarios:
Left tackle - Free Agent Trent Williams
The Chiefs make their one big spend of the offseason on a top-shelf offensive tackle to ensure that Patrick Mahomes’ blind side is protected. This may be a Brett Veach overcorrection, considering the offensive line depletion is what led to their demise in the Super Bowl, but a protected Mahomes should keep you within one score at a minimum — the first time he lost a game by more than one score was Super Bowl LV.
Left guard - Lucas Niang
In this scenario, Niang loses out on the competition at right tackle (more on that in a second) and the Chiefs move him inside to play guard. Niang is very likely to be one of the “best five” players up front next year — it’s just a matter of where they align the rookie. He’s got legitimate top-50ish talent, has had more time to overcome injury. I expect good things from him wherever he plays.
Center - Free agent Nick Martin
Recently cut by the Houston Texans, Martin has played quality football in his career and shouldn’t break the bank at his next destination. He’s a veteran low-mid level signing that very likely improves their situation at center last year. Martin could ultimately be of good value and would sandwich Niang between two experienced veterans.
Right guard - Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
The good doctor returns to man the right guard position for the final year of his contract after spending a year off of football fighting COVID. The last version of Duvernay-Tardif we saw play was far from his best; he’s had better seasons. Perhaps there were lingering injuries that were keeping him from playing like the high-quality player we’ve seen in the past. If he’s healthy and ready to go, he’s an upgrade at guard.
Right tackle - 63rd pick in the 2021 NFL Draft Jackson Carman, Clemson
The Chiefs go offensive line in the second round of the NFL Draft and get a good player that can play inside or out. Jackson Carman is a big-bodied offensive lineman with some high-level moments in the run and pass. We have him beating out Niang for the right tackle spot in this scenario, but it could very easily be flipped — both are talented players and Carman’s measurables could move him inside with his arm length coming in under 33 inches. Niang doesn’t have that problem. Either way it shapes out, Niang and Carman would undoubtedly be “best five” players up front.
The bottom line
We also have the Chiefs taking a day-three offensive lineman in this scenario — and there are plenty of good ones. You might even get another starter along the interior out of it — some of the players likely available on day three can give Duvernay-Tardif a run for their money.
The Chiefs spend big on offensive line but have a lot of draft capital to fix other problems on the roster — like defensive end and wide receiver — in this scenario. This group is better than what they had in Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season and is capable of holding up against anyone they could match up against in the Super Bowl.
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