While it felt like the interior of the offensive line was one of those, it was only because left guard Joe Thuney, center Creed Humphrey and right guard Trey Smith are all very solid starters. Behind them, veteran Nick Allegretti is still holding firm — but after him, the team only has players like practice-squad veterans Mike Caliendo and Austin Reiter.
This is why an undrafted free agent like Tennessee guard Jerome Carvin has a chance to make the team this season. Here’s what to know about him.
Experience in all three positions
Over five years at Tennessee, Carvin started 43 games — all of them on the interior of the offensive line. He began his college career at right guard. But in 2021, he shifted to center and then to left guard, where he stayed for the remainder of his career in Knoxville.
Carvin's quickness out of his stance helps him bring momentum to a run block, opening lanes & driving through the whistle pic.twitter.com/D7mA2e1R66— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) May 23, 2023
On these plays, Carvin gets out of his stance quickly, using his initial advantage to take defenders away from the play. We also see good leg drive, which often gives his blocks strong finishes.
We also see the footwork he uses to redirect quickly when a defender shoots one of his gaps. In the last play, Alabama defensive lineman Byron Young shoots inside. But Carvin calmly latches on, driving him away from the run — and into the ground.
Carvin's footwork as a puller isn't perfect, but he's quick to where he needs to go and takes good angles to the defender pic.twitter.com/mFjJfbYFLB— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) May 23, 2023
When Carvin is asked to pull, his quickness out of his stance allows him to get out of the ball carrier’s way and take on the defender. He shows good tracking skills, taking good angles and attacking with appropriate leverage — whether it’s a kick-out block or a lead block through the hole.
When working in the run game, Carvin can get a little top heavy and unbalanced, allowing defenders to shed & get by him on those reps pic.twitter.com/lKJfSTCEZG— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) May 23, 2023
But because of his tendency to play high — to engage while being top-heavy — Carvin’s blocking in space (or at the second level) can be sloppy. This allows defenders to get him off balance and shed him more easily. In these scenarios, he needs to improve his striking position.
In his last two seasons at Tennessee, Carvin allowed two sacks and four quarterback hits in 1,754 snaps. While he was aided by the Volunteers’ spread offense — which got the ball out quickly and wore out opposing defenses — offensive linemen can get tired in those schemes, too!
#Chiefs UDFA Guard Jerome Carvin made 43 career starts, starting his career at RG and finishing at LG— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) May 23, 2023
He has the quickness out of his stance & footwork to mirror rushers. Shows a wide base in pass pro to help his anchor pic.twitter.com/OHUMNQwbym
As a pass blocker, Carvin’s burst out of his stance again helps him win the initial leverage battle; he’s able to put his hands to work before the defensive lineman can do something with theirs. As he fights, he displays a wide base that allows him to stay in front of power rushes; in the SEC, he was only rarely overpowered by straight bull rushes.
He also shows good footwork, which allows him to mirror opposing pass rushers, staying with them as they shift from one side to the other; he is able to pair his hands and feet very well.
Carvin's pass sets can break down at times, w/ wide hands that allow a DL into his chest or just not having the grip strength to stay engaged through the whistle pic.twitter.com/ra77KY9Iml— Ron Kopp Jr. (@Ron_Kopp) May 23, 2023
Carvin can, however, be overwhelmed by strong hands (and a decisive move) after the initial engagement. He needs to improve his grip strength, which will prevent pass rushers from getting past him with rip or swim moves. Improving his technique could also help in this area.
He also needs to learn to make his feet come with him when he attempts to recover. When a defender hits a rush move, Carvin will sometimes lunge or reach — rather than try to mirror the move. He has the footwork to do it. He just needs to work on his consistency.
The bottom line
Kansas City needs more depth on the interior of its offensive line. Aside from Allegretti, Carvin is as worthwhile a prospect to fill that role as any other.
But it’s not just about 2023. Depending on how Thuney’s contract is handled next offseason, the Chiefs may have a need at left guard in 2024 — and at right guard, they’ll have to make a decision on Smith sooner rather than later.
So Kansas City is looking to develop a starter for the offensive interior, which it has previously done with late-round picks or undrafted free agents like Smith, Allegretti, Reiter, Andrew Wylie and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif.
With Carvin’s talent — and the team’s ability to develop offensive linemen — he could be a valuable player in both the short and long term.