When Clark Hunt and the Chiefs made Patrick Mahomes a $500 million dollar man, conversations started throughout the Kingdom on how the Chiefs would be able to get the most out of their young superstar on his record extension. Many of those conversations started with the five men that would be tasked with keeping Mahomes upright throughout the season.
That group did a decent enough job throughout the regular season dealing with injuries to Mitchell Schwartz and Kelechi Osemele that those conversations started to turn into conversations about how Veach would replace Sammy Watkins.
However, with Fisher suffering a torn Achilles in the AFC Championship game and Schwartz unable to return from his back ailment for the Super Bowl, Mahomes was running for his life for all four quarters against the Bucs. With a putrid performance from the group up front, improving the offensive line is once again at the forefront of the Kingdom conversations.
Unfortunately for the Chiefs and Brett Veach, Schwartz is rumored to be thinking about retiring due to his back injury and Fisher is not expected to return from his Achilles injury for at least nine months. Nine months from the injury date would not have Fisher returning until late October at the earliest.
For this article, I am going with the worst-case scenario, which means that we have to assume that Schwartz retires and Fisher is cut to save cap space. With those two things happening, the Chiefs would open up a little over $18 million in cap space. With that in mind, here are five moves that I would like to see Brett Veach make to improve the starting group upfront:
Draft Creed Humphrey C, Oklahoma in Round 1
This may not be the most popular take, however, hear me out. Humphrey has been a three-year starter at Oklahoma where he was the middle man for some of the most explosive college offenses in the last few years. He may not be the best athlete at the center position but he has an extremely high football IQ that quickly handles whichever interior defender he is tasked with blocking. Drafting Humphrey in the first round anchors the offensive line in the middle for at least the next five years.
Draft Walker Little OT, Stanford in Round 3
Many may not recognize the name but let me give you a little rundown on Mr. Little. When looking at many early mock drafts heading into the 2019 college football season, there were not many that had Little outside of the top 10 draft picks while many had him in the top 5. After suffering a knee injury in September of 2019, Little decided to return for the 2020 season.
However, after the pandemic hit, he decided to opt-out of the season. While we have not seen him play for almost two years, there is no denying the talent that is there. At 6’7 with incredible strength and length, he has the prototypical size you want to see in a franchise left tackle. With a full offseason, Little should be a day 1 starter protecting Mahomes’ blindside.
Insert Lucas Niang at the starting RT spot
The opt-out from the Chiefs 3rd round pick in 2020 definitely hurt the immediate depth of the offensive line group. However, with a possible retirement from Schwartz and the injury to Fisher, Andy Reid is going to need Niang to come back and be ready to play. Reports have been that the Chiefs are indeed telling Niang to be ready on day one. Many may not expect much from a third-round pick but with the newly crowned Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young calling Niang his toughest opponent in college, don’t be surprised to see him stand out immediately.
Welcome back Laurent Duvernay-Tardif with open arms
The Chiefs may have missed LDT at the RG spot more than many people thought when he bravely opted out of the season to stay in Canada and put his doctorate degree to use at a long-term living facility during the world pandemic. LDT has one year left on his deal and would allow the Chiefs to have some type of familiarity in the offensive trenches.
Bring back Kelechi Osemele, Mike Remmers and Daniel Kilgore on 1-year deals
I’m not sure Veach would be able to swing all of these deals but if he is able to get two of the three, I’d prefer to bring back Osemele and Remmers. Osemele was a beast for the Chiefs before tearing ligaments in both knees on one play early in the season.
He would also bring some continuity to what would be an extremely young line. Remmers is a savvy veteran that would be useful in mentoring the two young tackles that would be starting while also being a solid backup at four spots on the offensive line.
After all of those moves, here is what the offensive line depth chart would look like:
LT: Walker Little, Mike Remmers, Martinas Rankin
LG: Kelechi Osemele, Nick Allegretti, Remmers
C: Creed Humphrey, Allegretti
RG: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Allegretti, Remmers
RT: Lucas Niang, Remmers, Rankin
With Allegretti able to play all three interior spots, Remmers able to play all but center and Rankin being a decent backup tackle, the Chiefs would have backups that all have extended starting experience if there were to be a long term injury. While the line would be young, three of the five starters would hold those spots for the next four years at a cheap rate.
Saving $18 million from Fisher and Schwartz while only spending about $8 million on this line would bring youth and athleticism while also giving Veach the flexibility to go get a bigger name WR in FA (cough, Allen Robinson, cough). Let me know what you think about this plan and what you would change.