Oct 6, 2013; Nashville, TN, USA; The Kansas City Chiefs offensive squad huddles in a game against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at LP Field. The Chiefs beat the Titans 26-17. Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Chiefs: Analyzing The Offensive Line In 2014

So here we are in the aftermath of free agency. As a Kansas City Chiefs fan, I do feel a bit defeated considering we lost three starting offensive lineman in the process. I Knew they were likely to lose Branden Albert, as they were close to sending him on his way last off season but, I did not anticipate them losing both Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz.

As of right now, the Chiefs depth chart at offensive line looks like this; Donald Stephenson at left tackle, Jeff Allen at left guard, Rodney Hudson at center, Rishaw Johnson at right guard, and Eric Fisher at right tackle. Call me crazy, but I think that lineup could work.

The Kansas City Chiefs cruised through 2013 with Donald Stephenson starting at one of the tackle spots from week to week. He showed that he’s an adequate starter in the league and could easily be the answer for the Chiefs at right tackle for the next few years. My confidence in Stephenson is pretty high, it’s Eric Fisher that concerns me at the tackle position.

Those of you who’ve read my work before, understand my worries about Fisher. I know that he will benefit greatly from another off season in the weight room and rehabbing his injuries from 2013.

I also know that I should judge him more on how he plays this upcoming season but, I still have legitimate worries about him anchoring the left side for the Chiefs in 2014. Fisher definitely has the skill to be a perennial all star in this league, but I’m worried that he will struggle to put that all together.

Sep 19, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Fisher (72) during the fourth quarter against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. The Chiefs defeated the Eagles 26-16. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Eric Fisher (72)  Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Most number one picks that are offensive lineman turn out to be impact guys right away.

Now, I understand that not every single number one over-all tackle has panned out but, it is a position that has a high percentage rate of success when drafted that high. Fisher showed very minimal signs that he will be the guy that the Chiefs can rely on for the next 10 years.

Sure, he had his moments like when he came off the bench against Denver in Arrowhead and held down Von Miller in the 4th quarter. Or his solid play against the Redskins when Jamaal Charles caught the screen pass and Fisher threw a key block that ultimately got Charles in the end zone. Other than that, what else can you hang your hat on?

He battled nagging injuries all year long, gave up horrible penalties at costly times (I’ll blame that on being a rookie), and lost his starting spot down the stretch to the better play of Donald Stephenson.

I’m sorry folks, but Fisher concerns me. I’m not calling him a bust yet, that would be ignorant. But, to me anyways, he’s showing all the signs of being just that. Like I said before, I’ll reserve my full judgement on him until year two is over, but for my analysis on the tackles, Fisher is the biggest question that needs to be answered in 2014.

Moving on to other parts of the front five, looking at the guards in particular. I was certain that Kansas City would keep either Schwartz or Asamoah but that quickly vanished after just 2 hours into the free agency period.

Now the Chiefs are left with very limited options at that position and a question that needs to be answered. Who will play right guard for the Chiefs in 2014?

I’ve heard the speculation about them possibly moving things around a bit, meaning Rodney Hudson slides over to that right guard spot and Eric Kush, the Chiefs 6th round pick last year, take over at center. Going into last years draft, Kush was viewed as a “sleeper” pick at center after battling an ankle injury at the East-West Shrine game and proving his skill and toughness.

He also played very well when getting the start against the San Diego Chargers in week 17. Kush, and the rest of the offensive line, pushed around the starting front from the Chargers, leading to much praise for the back up squad after that game.

It’s certainly an option the Kansas City Chiefs could be considering and Hudson at guard is proven to be effective. He started a couple of games his rookie season at guard and played very well. Hudson also has experience at the position from his college days with Florida State.

The thing is, Hudson played well enough last year at center to raise the thought why fix what isn’t broken? I’m pretty confident with Hudson at either position, we’ll just have to see how the Chiefs feel when practice starts.

Lastly, lets touch on Rishaw Johnson and Jeff Linkenbach. Johnson is another player that benefited from a start against the Chargers in that last game. He too, played very well and caught the attention of many around Kansas City. He could be the guy the Chiefs have in mind for that right guard spot and he’s certainly cheaper than the other two guys they just lost.

Kansas City Chiefs offensive lineman Donald Stephenson (79) Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Linkenbach is a swing player, much like Schwartz, that can provide depth for the Chiefs at more than one spot. I don’t really see him competing for a starting spot during training camp but he could be very helpful down the stretch of next season. You just never know with injuries and the Chiefs having limited depth along the offensive line.

The Chiefs still have time to make more moves, and it shouldn’t be surprising to see them add another offensive lineman through the NFL draft. There are still notable free agents available with guys like Davin Joseph, and Eben Britton, but the Chiefs aren’t likely to spend the money unless they’re desperate, or, can get one of those guys on a cheap one or two-year deal.

Kansas City certainly has some concerns along the offensive line in 2014, but how big are they? I think the Chiefs have legitimate options already on the roster but that doesn’t mean their couldn’t be a setback in play from the boys upfront in 2014.

I’m curious to hear your guys thoughts on the Kansas City Chiefs and their offensive line. How do you see the starting lineup for 2014, and do you see them adding another offensive lineman through the NFL draft or free agency?

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Tags: Donald Stephenson Eric Fisher Kansas City Chiefs

11 Comments on Kansas City Chiefs: Analyzing The Offensive Line In 2014

  1. Stacy D. Smith says:

    A part of me likes the idea of Kush sliding in at center and Hudson moving to guard, but that would mean 4 of 5 players are in new spots in 2014. That’s sure to set the line back a bit, for at least part of the season.

  2. Josh Landers says:

    Fisher came from a small school and learned a new position last year and did ok in the second half of the season. Adding strength and returning him to his natural position should make a big difference this year. He will still have some growing pains early on, I think. But he’s gonna be fine. Jeff Allen is the one in worried about. He played terribly last year. Towards the end of the year he started pulling it together a little. Hopefully he can continue that but I’m not sold. GO CHIEFS!!!

    • Josh Michaels says:

      Natural position is bogus. I played offensive line my whole life, obviously not at the professional level, and playing left tackle and right tackle there is a difference, but not really. Stephenson has played left and right from day one, often moving back and forth from week to week. You see him use the “not natural position” excuse ever? I’m just saying, right side is easier if anything, not having to face the premier rusher each week as often as the left side does. Fisher was the number one overall pick. Period. He should be able to flourish no matter what tackle spot the chiefs put him in.

  3. Steve Osborn says:

    I thought everyone understood that Fisher was drafted for what he would do in years 2-15 and that anything he contributed in year 1 would be frosting. He was raw talent with less polish but higher ceiling than Joeckel. Fisher will be fine this year. Will he still have his growing pains. Yes, but the leap from last year will be amazing.

    • Josh Michaels says:

      I hope you’re right! I believe the same way you do in terms of being raw with higher upside, but I still have my worries.

      Appreciate the comment!

  4. Brian Dempsey says:

    Too early to make an assessment of Fisher considering he was a rookie playing out of position. And no, he did not lose his job to Stephenson, that’s completely bogus. Also factor in that Fisher faced a better series of opponents than either Stephenson or Albert did. Personally, I thought the O-Line improved when Stephenson replaced Albert at LT, not Fisher at RT. You forgot also to mention the Buffalo game when Fisher went up against Mario Williams who was leading the league in sacks going into that game & Fisher never allowed Williams to hit Alex Smith.

    Give Fisher a couple seasons of playing his natural LT position and then a fair assessment can be made.

    • Josh Michaels says:

      It’s not completely bogus, it’s a fact. Why was Donald the starter against San Diego, Denver, Indy (both times) over a healthy Fisher? He flat out played better. He and Schwartz both made the line better when they anchored the right side. And sure, Fisher held his own again Mario Williams the one or two times he had to block him that game, but he still hasn’t shown much for me to sway my opinion that much.

      Like I said, I understand it was his first season, but man was it not a good one to give us hope. Thanks for reading, and leaving a comment!

      • Jim Harper says:

        My My Josh I am sure Brian did not mean to get you so riled up. I have to say that I am more in Brian’s corner than yours. It is most definitely a true statement that it is extremely difficult for a tackle to move from the left side over to the right side. Everything is backwards, but he did make steady improvement. Then you state that he is showing all the signs of being a bust, but you negated to list what those signs were. You also state that Fisher lost his job when he was healthy and as I remember he was fighting nagging injuries and had not lost his job. Now if he had still been in San Francisco you can very well lose your job while injured, but that is how KC rolls.

      • Brian Dempsey says:

        Stephenson was the starter because Fisher was on the injury list as doubtful for first SD game, questionable for the 2nd Denver game, Fisher played the entire regular season game against Indy in the home final , and was listed as inactive due to injury in practice for the playoff game against Indy — those are the facts. What you are saying about Fisher losing his job to Stephenson is completely false, as is the statement of Fisher going up against Mario Williams one or two times in the Buffalo game ( don’t know where you’re deriving that from ). Fisher went up against Williams for practically the entire game. Stephenson and Schwartz were together for one full game against SD at Arrowhead and 3 QTRS of the 2nd Denver game & in the 2nd game against SD it was Fisher and Rishaw Johnson manning the right side of the O-Line & they played just as well against that same SD Defense that Stephenson and Schwartz had played against in the first meeting against SD. I watched the games multiple times via NFL Game Rewind and while it’s true Schwartz was an upgrade over Asamoah, I’d say Stephenson was about even at best with Fisher at RT, but outperformed Albert at LT ( no surprise there ). Fisher will be manning the LT spot in 2014, as Andy Reid has publicly said as much.

        • Josh Michaels says:

          He’s definitely the guy moving forward. I have faith in him, just concerns. We need him to be “the guy” moving forward. Great stuff, Brian!

          Thanks again for reading and commenting man.

  5. Stan Colbert says:

    Albert started slow, John Alt had trouble, though 2 rd. pick, and Joe Staley came out the MAC and had an adjustment period.
    I think this year playing the NFC West teams will be quite a challenge for the guys! Hopefully AS11 can get the ball out quick enough not to get killed!

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