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Hidden Gems: The Chiefs’ Jerome Carvin can provide quality depth at guard

While Kansas City isn’t looking for starters on the interior offensive line, the team could use dependable backups.

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Florida v Tennessee Photo by Donald Page/Getty Images

Entering the 2023 NFL Draft, there were a few positions where the Kansas City Chiefs did not have a dire need.

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.

Run blocking

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.

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.

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.

Pass protection

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!

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 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.

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