“I think we’re overlooking the rookie sixth-round pick Trey Smith out of Tennessee, who Kansas City drafted, along with Creed Humphrey in the second round at offensive center,” Riddick said on ESPN’s Get Up. “This guy has been blowing the doors off of people in training camp for the Kansas City Chiefs. Their offensive line is going to be a strength for them and this young man is gonna help lead the way. And the fact that their offensive line is going to be maybe one of the strengths, if not the strength as a unit on this entire football team, you tell me what that means for the rest of the AFC and the rest of the NFL. Patrick Mahomes has one of the best offensive lines in the NFL It’s a wrap, is what it is.”
Get Up host Mike Greenberg chipped in.
“Louis, and you know this well, Trey Smith once upon a time was the No. 1 high school football player in America,” Greenberg said. “There were health questions involving him that forced him to fall all the way to sixth — or the sixth-round, I should say — in the draft. He’s a player whose talent is rated well above that.”
1. Patrick Mahomes
The former league and Super Bowl MVP garners the top spot on this list. Mahomes finished just 84 yards shy of winning his first passing title in 2020 despite sitting out Kansas City’s regular-season finale. In the only season in which has played in all 16 games, Mahomes threw for 5,097 yards during his breakout 2018 campaign. Mahomes averaged nearly 308 passing yards per game in his first 46 regular-season starts. That average would put him at 5,230 yards if he plays in all 17 games in 2021.
Despite Sammy Watkins’ departure, Mahomes still has one of the league’s best receiving corps, a group that includes Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson. The Chiefs added depth to the group by selecting former Clemson wideout Cornell Powell in the fifth round. Kansas City also put considerable energy this offseason into improving its protection of Mahomes. Along with trading for Pro Bowl left tackle Orlando Brown, the Chiefs also signed veterans Austin Blythe and Kyle Long. They also drafted former Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey in the second round and former Tennessee tackle Trey Smith in the sixth round.
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid said on Thursday that he’s planning to have Kansas City’s starters play a quarter for the team’s first preseason matchup with San Francisco.
Reid added that the twos would play the second quarter, the threes will play the third, and the fours will play the fourth.
Asked how he came to that determination, Reid cited his process from when there were four preseason games.
“I basically do it the same way we did our first three before,” Reid said in his press conference. “And they’ve got two weeks [after the third preseason game] where we’re practicing, so got to get them some work in.”
Niners coach Kyle Shanahan said Thursday that the plan for the exhibition opener is to have Garoppolo and the starting offense begin the game and play a series before calling it a night. That group will then turn it over to Lance and the backup offense for the rest of the first half.
The hope is to get Garoppolo and the starting offense a chance to get some live game reps under their belt and then allow Lance and the backups to play about 30 snaps before giving way to fellow quarterbacks Nate Sudfeld and Josh Rosen.
1 - Kansas City Chiefs
2020 RANKINGS · Points: 6th | Yards: 1st
If you even think about putting any other team at the top, you are simply trying too hard. Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback on the planet and the greatest show in sports. The guy just threw for 4,740 yards with 38 touchdowns against just six picks ... yet it somehow felt like a down year because Aaron Rodgers won MVP. Isn’t that wild? Don’t ever take Mahomes’ generational genius for granted. Don’t let his extraordinary feats feel ordinary. This is rare brilliance we’re all witnessing — and the 25-year-old’s only going to get better.
Kansas City Chiefs: A-
Two years ago after falling short in the AFC Championship, the Chiefs front office addressed a glaring weakness by remaking their defense. This offseason the team took a similar approach, fixing an offensive line that looked to be in shambles during their Super Bowl loss. The result is potentially five new starters, including the accomplished Joe Thuney and Orlando Brown Jr. on the left side. The team also made a key under-the-radar addition in defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who has wreaked havoc for Seattle in recent seasons. With all of their stars still intact, led by Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs enter the season as Super Bowl favorites again.
3 - Tyrann Mathieu
Kansas City Chiefs · FS
An undersized dude who had the odds stacked against him, Mathieu is one of my favorite players to watch. He’s extremely tough and smart, but his heart and work ethic propelled him to become the elite playmaker he’s been for the Kansas City Chiefs. He has 10 INTs since joining the Chiefs in 2019 (third in the league in that span, first among safeties) and has allowed a 66.0 passer rating in coverage since 2019 (fifth in the NFL among those with a minimum of 100 targets in that span, lowest among safeties), according to PFF. I love that Andy Reid and Steve Spagnuolo put their trust in Mathieu and allow him to be himself — and it shows in his play.
Kansas City Chiefs at San Francisco 49ers, 8:30 p.m. ET
Whether or not Patrick Mahomes is out there, it will be intriguing to get a glimpse of how the Chiefs’ reassembled offensive line appears, particularly the ballyhooed additions of Orlando Brown and Joe Thuney. Though the 49ers have been steadfast that Jimmy Garoppolo is the starter, Trey Lance has dazzled in camp and will introduce himself to an NFL audience.
Around the NFL
A few months removed from being the 15th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, Jones was the main event in Thursday’s tilt with the Washington Football Team. His five drives made for a good watch in the Patriots’ 22-13 win.
The rookie out of Alabama was smart and decisive in relief of Newton, and at different points safe and aggressive. Jones made arguably the finest throw of the evening on his first possession, when he dropped a 34-yard dime down the left sideline that bounced off the fingertips of Kristian Wilkerson. That came shortly after he squeezed a pass between a linebacker and safety to Kendrick Bourne for a first down.
Current starter: Derek Carr
Signed through: 2022
Yeah, the “Jon Gruden doesn’t like Derek Carr” narrative is played out and has kind of been proved false, given that Carr is entering his fourth season as Gruden’s starter. But we take a cold, businesslike approach to these kinds of exercises.
Next offseason, Carr will have only one, non-guaranteed year left on his contract. The Raiders have gone 4-12, 7-9 and 8-8 at the start of Gruden’s second tenure. Given the way that Raiders ownership feels about him, Gruden might have more job security than just about any coach this side of Kansas City or New England. But another disappointing year would almost have to make the organization reevaluate, right? And that could mean a reboot under a different coach, quarterback or both.
Most likely outcome: Carr, after a contract extension.
Long shot: Russell Wilson. The Raiders were on his list of potential destinations, remember, if he were to demand a trade.
In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride
For Mahomes, part of that intensity comes from playing against the three-time All-Pro safety.
“It’s great to be able to go up against Tyrann,” he said. “He’s going to give you every single look possible — that’s the best thing. He’s going to try and extend — kind of like you hear about quarterbacks trying to push it and try to get it into these tight windows — he’ll try to bluff a blitz, get back into coverage and be in the right coverage at the right time. Or he’ll try to hit a blitz from in deep coverage and really not show the quarterback.”
But Mahomes said that in the end, that’s beneficial to him.
“It helps me out a ton,” he said, “because he kind of puts me on my toes. He makes sure that I’m ready for all types of different things. He’s truly a special talent that does a lot of great things on the football field.”
Mathieu said that playing against Mahomes was helpful to him, too.
“It’s difficult,” he acknowledged. “He’s not an average quarterback. He could put the ball anywhere — any spot on the field. But I think [that] just us kind of working off each other — obviously competing with each other — the mental gymnastics that we kind of go through pre-snap and post-snap, trying to to find [what] each other are doing, I think it’s going to make both of us sharper.”
A tweet to make you think
Travis Kelce has played 110-of-112 possible regular season games since 2014. The two games he missed -- Week 17 games with the AFC West clinched.— Hayden Winks (@HaydenWinks) August 12, 2021