Who are these guys on the Chiefs offensive line?
The key player on the O-line is Lucas Niang, who is holding down right tackle. The former TCU Horned Frog was a third-round draft pick. He had surgery on a torn labrum in his hip. This is just complete speculation, and no medical sources to back this up, but perhaps an additional year off in 2020 might not have been a bad thing from the standpoint of rehabbing that injury. In any case, the surgery appears to have been completely successful and he is full-go for 2021.
Facing Myles Freaking Garrett as his main opponent is a huge challenge for anyone in his first NFL start. Yet, nobody seems to be making a big deal of it. Zero NFL starts? Ho-hum. Ho-hum, that is, until the first snap.
Trey Smith is next to Niang. Smith is a sixth-round pick, 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds. He knocked out 32 bench press reps at Pro Day, which means he is beastly strong, and considering his size, 5.11 for the 40-yard dash is very impressive. Similarly, he clocked 7.43 in the 3-cone drill, which is very fast for his size. Still, zero downs in an NFL game. That does not sound like very many.
Center Creed Humphrey was a second-round draft pick in the 2021 NFL draft. Normally starting a second-round pick on day one should not be controversial. But there are three players on the right side making their first NFL start, and they will be seeing Myles Garrett and Malik Jackson. Takk McKinley and Jordan Elliott will be in the rotation as well. Nothing to be particularly concerned about?
Brown and Thuney will normally be seeing Jadeveon Clowney and Andrew Billings. Joe Jackson may spell Clowney, and we may see Malik McDowell at the tackle spot in place of Billings at times. The left side of the Chiefs may be more evenly matched.
We should also discuss the main options on the bench. Austin Blythe has been a solid NFL starter for the Colts and Los Angeles Rams at Center and can also play guard. However, he had surgery for a sports hernia in August, and although he is available to play game one, the Chiefs would prefer to not play him if they do not have to. He is a solid 16-game starter if needed, however.
Former Cleveland Brown Andrew Wylie is still on board. He is a former starter who can play guard or center.
Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, 30, is a former Chiefs starting guard who was a Covid opt-out in 2020. Duvernay-Tardif is an interesting fellow, because he’s a medical doctor from Canada in addition to being a football player in his seventh year. He’s currently on the mend from a broken hand and may or may not be available to open the season.
Likewise, Mike Remmers, 32, is in his10th year and has 88 career starts at guard and tackle. The Chiefs have him penciled in as a backup this season.
Kansas City has depth this season that they didn’t have in 2020. Their best players on the offensive line might actually be sitting on the bench. The players they have chosen to open the season with are the ones who are going to have to face Clowney, Garrett, and company. It’s not like defense, when players go in and out all the time.
The Chiefs think they know who they are facing, but they saw Myles Garrett recovering from Covid-19 last season. They did not see the guy at the beginning of the season who was getting a strip-sack just about every game. He is much, much more destructive than they realize. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. You go ahead and believe you can handle this guy with newcomers with zero NFL starts.