The Kansas City Chiefs are asking a lot of rookie offensive lineman Parker Ehinger this year as he is taking reps with the first team offense so far in Training Camp.
The Kansas City Chiefs essentially started over at left guard this offseason after letting Jeff Allen depart in Free Agency, and then cutting both Ben Grubbs and Paul Fanaika. This left the cabinet a little bare at the position until the team selected Parker Ehinger from Cincinnati in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL Draft.
The Chiefs have had issues with their offensive line for the past few years, especially at left guard. The team has struggled with consistency at the position as starter Jeff Allen was oft injured. This left the team turning to journeyman Mike McGlynn, and later Ben Grubbs who would have injury issues of his own.
A fourth round rookie who played offensive tackle in college might not strike you as the ideal option for filling in at left guard, but so far Ehinger is proving the Chiefs coaching staff and front office right. Ehinger took over the starting role in OTAs and carried that over into the start of Training Camp where he has continued to impress.
I will admit that I have some reservations about Parker Ehinger starting as a rookie, but I do like his potential and think that he has a solid future in the NFL. I was hoping that the Chiefs would invest in a veteran through Free Agency, or possibly even a trade. If that is not in the cards, Ehinger is a guy who can succeed.
“…to come in like that day one of pads and start, it really means a lot.” ~ Chiefs center Mitch Morse on Parker Ehinger
Of course, the Chiefs had success from a guy in a similar position last year when Mitch Morse started at center after playing guard in college. Morse said of Ehinger: “He’s an incredible football player, and to come in like that day one of pads and start, it really means a lot.” That’s high praise early on in Training Camp, but it seems to be a recurring theme with Ehinger.
Head Coach Andy Reid has had nothing but good things to say about Ehinger, though that is a bit expected. More encouraging is that members of the media on hand at Training Camp are echoing what the team is saying about Ehinger, with Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star making specific note of Ehinger’s ability to move in the run game and his awareness in pass protection.
If Ehinger can take over the starting left guard spot, and play well, it will be a huge boost to the Kansas City Chiefs not just for this season, but for the next several years. With Mitch Morse, Mitchell Schwartz, and now Eric Fisher all under contract for the next few seasons, the Chiefs have the structure to build a strong offensive line. Ehinger would be an important part of completing that unit.