Darwin Thompson, Running Back
Still just 24 and entering his third NFL season, Darwin Thompson appears to be on the chopping block due to the number of bodies inside the Chiefs bloated stable of running backs. Now, after the signing of veteran Jerick McKinnon, there are six running backs on Kansas City’s roster, led by Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Where’s Thompson stand? Among these half-dozen running backs, he’s been with the Chiefs longer than all but Darrel Williams. Williams is older than Thompson but has garnered more work over the past two seasons.
When the Chiefs drafted Thompson in the sixth-round in 2019 out of Utah State, the hope was he could make the team, contribute as he could that season and then increase his productivity. Instead, his production decreased in 2020.
His rookie season, Thompson rushed the ball 37 times for 128 yards and one touchdown while grabbing nine receptions for 43 yards. He only appeared on the field for 10% of the offense’s snaps, but on special teams, that number jumped to 23%.
In 2020, despite appearing in two more games (including one start), his offensive production dropped. He appeared in only 7% of the team’s snaps while collecting 162 total offensive yards on 34 touches. (He did score two touchdowns.) Perhaps his saving grace, his appearances on special teams increased to 30%.
Thompson definitely won’t overtake CEH for the starting gig and most likely won’t surpass Williams as the team’s second running back option. It looks to be a fight between him and McKinnon, Elijah McGuire and Derrick Gore for the third spot.
Martinas Rankin, Offensive Line
Martinas Rankin did not spend his rookie season in Kansas City, but instead in Houston, with the Texans, who drafted him in the third round (No. 80 overall) out of Mississippi State. He appeared in all 16 games his rookie season with Houston, including four starts, before getting traded to Kansas City for Carlos Hyde before the 2019 campaign.
He’s played in seven games since, and with the offensive line group now sporting 16 (!) names, he may be soon looking for his third employer. Which is shame. There was a five-week period in 2019 where it looked like Rankin might be part of the Chiefs’ long-term future. Starting in Week 6 against (oddly enough) the Texans, Rankin started five straight games and appeared in 100% of the offense’s snaps in three of them.
But he went down against the Titans, then went on Injured Reserve for the rest of the season. In 2020, due to a variety of reasons, Rankin didn’t suit up until Week 17, and then appeared on just nine snaps in the playoffs, all on special teams.
Normally, it would be a positive that he’s versatile enough to play both the interior and exterior of the offensive line. But so can a lot of the guys the Chiefs brought in this year. Rankin might make it until the final cuts, but he’s probably suited up for the last time as a Kansas City Chief.