Over the weekend, Jared Dubin of CBS Sports ranked the NFL’s “Top Faces in New Places” — a look at what he expects to be the most impactful changes among NFL players, coaches and front offices in 2021. Some of them were single players. Some were coaches and coordinators. And some were groups of players — including the new faces ranked first in his list: six Kansas City Chiefs offensive linemen.
1. Chiefs offensive linemen Orlando Brown, Joe Thuney, Kyle Long, Austin Blythe, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, and Creed Humphrey
You watched the Super Bowl, right? Remember how Patrick Mahomes was running for his life? These guys are in charge of making sure that doesn’t happen again. It’s tough to imagine any players on new teams being responsible for something more important than that.
For some of his choices, Dubin wrote multiple paragraphs. But he reserved his simplest argument for the top of his list.
And why not? Considering that the performance of the Kansas City offensive line has essentially become the main narrative surrounding Super Bowl LV, it’s hard to imagine a larger, more visible group of new players anywhere in the league — and since the Chiefs are almost universally expected to be the AFC’s top contender for the next Super Bowl, the math isn’t very hard. These offensive linemen will be protecting the league’s top quarterback as he (and his teammates) try to reach their third consecutive league championship.
That said... we can quibble a little bit about the players he put in the group. Duvernay-Tardif isn’t exactly a new face — but he did elect to opt out of the 2020 season. Lucas Niang — whose second season will now be his rookie season — and sixth-round draft pick Trey Smith could end up playing significant roles at the expense of players like Blythe and Long; no one really knows exactly what the line will look like when the season begins.
But however it shakes out, Dubin has the first part right: no group of players in the league is likely to have more at stake — or have a bigger spotlight focused on their performance.