The Kansas City Chiefs rookies began their minicamp on Friday afternoon. It’s just the first step in a long offseason program, so we won’t have many final answers. However, we will be listening for hints in video clips, comments from coaches and interviews with players.
We just might get some information that works toward answers for these questions.
How many of the new offensive linemen are ready to start?
The Chiefs have completely rebuilt their offensive line this offseason, and that includes two 2021 rookies plus Lucas Niang, who missed his rookie season in 2020 due to a COVID-19 opt-out. While there’s no contact allowed, there will be plenty of classroom work, and we may get some feedback on how these guys look and how quickly they’re picking things up.
It’s possible that two or even three players who are at rookie minicamp will be starting on the new-look offensive line. This is a great opportunity for Trey Smith, Creed Humphrey and Lucas Niang to make a strong impression on the coaching staff.
Yes, Lucas Niang will classify as a rookie this year. https://t.co/GPlgX4qPXV— Sam McDowell (@SamMcDowell11) May 14, 2021
Can any of the undrafted free agents stand out?
This franchise has had tremendous success with undrafted players who contribute all over the roster. Last season, the Chiefs found their new punter (Tommy Townsend), an exciting defensive lineman (Turk Wharton) and a handful of other players who were in the mix and on the practice squad. The Chiefs roster is pretty stacked for 2021 after a flurry of transactions, including a couple of trades and a promising six-man draft class.
It might be more difficult for this year’s crop of undrafted free agents to make the initial roster, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Watch Zayne Anderson as a Dan Sorensen-type player, Dicaprio Bootle as a versatile secondary option and Marlon Character, Jr., who could compete for a cornerback job.
The highest-rated undrafted free agent might be defensive lineman Malik Herring, who could be in line for a medical “redshirt” year. We may not get a ton of information, but how Andy Reid talks about these undrafted players on Sunday could give some hints as to who could surprise this summer.
Where does Nick Bolton line up?
When the Chiefs drafted Bolton in the second round, we assumed that he was the future replacement for Anthony Hitchens at the MIKE linebacker spot. That job requires a lot of football intelligence — being able to get everyone lined up and make the calls on the defensive side of the ball. But with Hitchens locked in for this season at least, there’s actually an opening on the strong side, where Damien Wilson often lined up. Could Bolton be the SAM, at least for this season? Can he provide a little pass rush from that spot when called upon? If it’s not Bolton at SAM, then Kamalei Correa could be the starter there, which could mean that the Chiefs' top pick is a backup in 2021.
By the way, there’s also some wonder about the weak-side (WILL) linebacker job, where we hope Willie Gay, Jr. is ready to take over, but could Bolton leapfrog him there? We hope that a linebacker taken at pick 58 can play all three positions and that he can get on the field early. Let’s watch the early returns are on the former Mizzou star and see what we can learn.