These players from the starting lineup of the Super Bowl season could wind up in a backup role in 2020.
The Chiefs were able to do what 31 other NFL teams were unable to do last season: win the Super Bowl. They proved that they were the best team left standing. So, you would think that, for the most part, every starter would have job security going into this season. That might not be the case for some. With free agency moves and a pretty promising draft class, there could be a few shake-ups in the depth chart come week 1 of the season.
Damien Williams vs. Clyde Edwards-Helaire
This is the obvious one. The Chiefs were the only team in the first round of the draft to take a running back. Edwards-Helaire fits Andy Reid’s scheme perfectly and he was hand-picked by Patrick Mahomes, himself. The disappointing part is that Damian Williams is coming off of a Super Bowl performance where he literally put the game away. Plus, Williams was a key factor in both playoff games. Brett Veach said in an interview with Pro Football Talk that Williams will be the starter for the 2020 season, but he was awarded the starting role last year too before the team brought in LeSean McCoy. Hopefully, the duo of Williams and CEH becomes a 2-headed monster that opposing defenses can’t stop, but don’t be surprised if Edwards-Helaire is the feature back by November.
Andrew Wylie vs. Mike Remmers or Lucas Niang
It seemed pretty reasonable that when the Chiefs brought in Mike Remmers from the New York Giants, he would push Andrew Wylie out of the starting guard spot. Wylie suffered a couple of ankle injuries last season and Stefen Wisniewski filled in nicely for him. Remmers was a tackle in New York but before that, he started 27 games for the Minnesota Vikings at guard. It felt like he could be the starter in 2020. However, with the 96th overall pick in this year’s draft, the Chiefs selected Lucas Niang out of TCU. Brett Veach mentioned that Niang can play guard and could contribute immediately. At 6-foot-6, 315 pounds, he is big and athletic. He can be successful at any position on the line. It could be Remmers or Wylie to start, but Niang might just outplay both of them.
Anthony Hitchens vs. Willie Gay Jr.
Linebacker was a position of need for the Chiefs this offseason, not just because of the loss of Reggie Ragland, but also because the overall lack of talent at the position. The Chiefs gave up the third highest amount of receptions to tight ends last season due to their poor linebacker play. While Damien Wilson has put up some decent performances, the only thing that is keeping Anthony Hitchens here is his contract.
While the Chiefs can’t move on from Hitchens, that doesn’t mean he has to play. Willie Gay Jr. was selected in the second round by the Chiefs and, according to Pro Football Focus’ Mike Renner, was the highest graded linebacker in coverage.
Gay Jr. ran a 4.46 40-yard dash at the combine and gives the Chiefs a sideline to sideline linebacker that they have desperately needed. I expect him to be a day one starter.
Whether these guys step in right away or find their stride midway through the year, the Chiefs appear to be improving on an already stellar roster. It is just another reason the Chiefs could be the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the 2003-04 Patriots.