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Who will be the Chiefs’ starting left tackle in Week 1?

On Monday’s mailbag edition of the AP Laboratory podcast, the Nerd Squad made some educated guesses.

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

On the Monday mailbag edition of the Arrowhead Pride Laboratory podcast, we were asked to guess who will be the Kansas City Chiefs’ starting left tackle in Week 1 of the regular season. Here are some guesses:

Alejandro Villanueva

The former Pittsburgh Steelers tackle is the same age as Trent Williams, but his age is showing a little more; he may not be able to hold up the same way Eric Fisher has in Patrick Mahomes’ deeper pass sets. He’s not an improvement over Fisher — but in most weeks, he is competent enough to get by.

Russell Okung

When Okung is on the field, he’s the best remaining tackle available. The problem is his availability. There are concerns about his ability to stay healthy for a 17-game season and the playoffs. If they put all their eggs in the Okung basket, the Chiefs could find themselves in the same spot they were late in the last year’s playoffs.

Liam Eichenberg

The Notre Dame prospect is commonly mocked to the Chiefs (including by us) because he is often is the best tackle available at the 31st pick; in a lot of the mock-draft scenarios, the tackle market dries up pretty quickly. Eichenberg does not have the same kind of ceiling other prospects do, but he could max out as a league-average tackle.

Who’s next?

There is hope that a player like Teven Jenkins, Alijah Vera-Tucker or Sam Cosmi will be there at 31, but the most realistic option is probably Eichenberg. Even then, dropping any of these players in as the starting left tackle will sometimes be an adventure; there will always be growing pains for a rookie tackle.

Even if the Chiefs are able to secure a veteran like Okung or Villanueva, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the team select a tackle in the first round. Either of these veterans are short-term options at the position — and the Chiefs need a long-term solution. if they can lock up the services of a veteran, they could perhaps wait until Round 2 to take a more developmental tackle prospect.

This position isn’t the only need on this roster — just the most pressing one. There is a long way to go in the offseason — but if the Chiefs are going to field as good a team as they did last season, there are still several positions where the team needs an injection of talent.

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