Due to the current COVID-19 Pandemic NFL Teams have not been able to have off-season training programs of any kind. This of course includes OTA’s which were set to begin this week had it been normal circumstances. The circumstances are far from normal but signs are pointing to having a season this year which means jobs are on the line as far a roster spots. It could also mean a chance for role players to step into larger roles. OTA’s can provide some clues to how a season will look or how the initial depth chart in camp will look, but for now we can look to last season, the draft, and free agency to find a few players who are deserving of a closer examination.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire RB
While it goes as no surprise that every team’s first-round draft pick would be getting extra attention this time of year, but given the versatility of CEH it would have made it more interesting to watch him. He is what some could consider Andy Reid’s dream back. A back with supreme contact balance and NFL ready hands, CEH was used multiple ways at LSU, and knowing Andy Reid’s offensive system requires versatile backs it would be interesting to see what kind of packages and plays the Chiefs would want to run or get him acclimated to in OTA’s. We will have to wait till training camp to see, but given the similarities in LSU and the Chiefs offenses it might be just like riding a bike for CEH.
Breeland Speaks DL
Speaks has the most questions surrounding him of any player headed into the OTA period, and those questions will now likely persist to the start of training camp. The big question is what position will he play. In 2018 Speaks played a stand up 3-4 OLB but was limited and only really rushed the passer when he was in the game. It was not a natural fit for him. Go forward to 2019 before his season-ending knee injury in the preseason, Speaks was lining up a more comfortable 4-3 position for him. With that being said he did show up to the 2019 offseason program visibly heavier which sparked some questions on his conditioning as well as if he had planned to move to an interior position along the defensive line. With the emergence of Mike Pennel and Khalen Saunders it would seem the window to play meaningful reps on the interior has closed, leaving Speaks to fight for a spot at DE. This could be a make or break year for Speaks.
Rashad Fenton DB
Fenton is someone who could be considered a riser during the season last year. The sixth-round pick from a year ago found himself playing mostly special teams early on but found a way onto the field late in the season and even was on the field for meaningful reps in the Super Bowl. This offseason the team lost Kendall Fuller in free agency but it appears if they were grooming Fenton to take Fuller’s slot corner or slot safety position this season. Fenton showed some flash when he was on the field, and he has all the traits Steve Spagnuola wants in a defensive back. The team drafted L’Jarius Sneed and BoPete Keyes who both play similar to Fenton so it will be interesting to see how the competition pans out. OTA’s would have provided a glimpse of possible rotations and roles.
Mike Remmers OL
There is a competition in Kansas City that is going to be heating up come training camp, yet not many are talking about it right now. The competition will be for the interior offensive line, a place where the Chiefs struggled to find consistent production last season. The Chiefs brought in veteran Mike Remmers this offseason in free agency and it might have been a very good under the radar move for the Chiefs. Remmers has started 78 games in eight NFL seasons and has the ability to play both Guard and Tackle. He spent last season playing RT in New York but his more natural position is guard. Remmers has the experience and the versatility to play all three interior positions and will up the level of competition in camp. I do expect that Remmers will end up being more of the swing linemen role that Cam Erving had in KC the last few seasons, but something to look for in OTA’s would have been how many reps he got with the starters and where he was plugged in.
Mecole Hardman WR
According to NFL Next Gen Stats Hardman was the only player to crack the top ten twice for fastest players to carry a ball in 2019. It has been reported that Hardman’s role on special teams could be reduced as his role on offense continues to grow. As fast and explosive as he is Hardman quietly had a good rookie season, but the test of his capability to play WR every down will come in his improvement from year one to year two. He stepped up as the Chiefs deep threat when Tyreek Hill was out with injury but now it will be time for him to step up and work his way into being an every-down wideout and not just a situational player or a change-up type player. During these OTA’s it would have been interesting to see what different ways the Chiefs wanted to utilize him, but also to look at the development he made during the offseason. If he can become a good route runner and consistently catch the ball it will add another dimension to the Chiefs offense.