Kansas City Chiefs: Analyzing The Offensive Line In 2014


The Kansas City Chiefs offensive squad huddles Mandatory Credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

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.

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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