The Chiefs’ backups got the start on Sunday vs the Chargers. Upfront the Chiefs have two prospects who could play roles in the future.
The Chiefs went with the full backup lineup Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers electing to rest the starters and keep the lineup healthy headed into the postseason. This opened up chances for multiple players who don’t normally get much playing time to step into larger roles for the game.
Along the offensive line, the Chiefs went with five backups, two of which are younger players who might be able to contribute in the future.
Over a year after suffering an ACL injury Martinas Rankin was back in the lineup, but not where we saw him last season. Last year he played primarily left guard where he excelled in the short amount of time that he was a starter. After over a year’s worth of ACL rehab, he made his return with the second unit but at left tackle. Rankin came into the league as a tackle out of Mississippi State so the position is not new to him, but it was not expected to see him start the game at the spot. Nevertheless, he did not disappoint.
Yasir Durant had struggled in his brief time playing right tackle earlier this season, so it was interesting to see what he would do at guard. Durant had played tackle his entire career at Mizzou, so this is the first footage of him ever playing guard at any level. His results were so so for the course of the game, and he has a ton of fundamental issues to clean up (pass pro footwork, lunging, bad run game footwork), but succeeded at the very basic principle of the game, move a man off a spot.
The above clip is Rankin working in combination with Yelder, not Durant. One of the things that I liked from watching film on Rankin last year was his hands, and how physical he was with them in most situations. He shows a strong upper body above and is able to hold off the end with one hand.
When Durant can keep himself locked into the ground and takes proper footwork he is hard to move back. The issue with him is reps like the one below are hard to come across, which displays his lack of experience as well as the inconsistencies in his game.
Rankin did give up the sack that resulted in a safety, in which Chad Henne held the ball for over three seconds in the endzone, but for his first live-action in over a year, after playing guard last season he had an above-average game pass protecting.
The play above is another rep in which Durant’s base fundamental is slightly off, but he still finds succus being physical. He vacates the double team much too early and puts his right tackle in a bad spot. He has to stay tighter to the defensive tackle on the line of scrimmage to help out the tackle before working up, but when he does get to the linebacker he gets there with bad intentions.
Rankin had impressed last year with his physicality in the run game, and he picked up where he left off. He has a nasty streak and looks to finish when he can.
For both Durant and Rankin, both show the fight and effort that most any offensive line coach would want on any given play. Not every play was perfect but the effort was there, as well as the desire to want to finish their men every play was as well.
Now where can these two help the Chiefs moving forward?
It is unlikely we will see much of either of them in the playoffs, for Durant, there are just so many better options talent-wise on the team, and for Rankin, it is a matter of still making sure he is healthy and ready to go. This game after all was very low stress, and the Chiefs used a fraction of their usual plays.
For Rankin, however, he was thought to at one time be a potential starter this season at guard for the Chiefs, and my guess is he will still be in the conversation headed into next season since he has played well under a small sample size. If he can become a starter in the future for the Chiefs he would not only be able to sure up the pass protection but also save the Chiefs from spending another draft pick, as well as having to sign another player.
Durant will likely be a career backup, but IF he can continue to grow as a player, and work his fundamentals better he could be the potential to be the Chiefs sixth man, the first man off the bench, or another depth piece for the team, similar to the role that Mike Remmers has served in this season.
With a potential offensive line overhaul coming to this offseason, it will be a long shot for Durant to make the team again next season. If he can use his natural tools and combine them with consistent footwork and a consistent base, he might have a chance.