Sept. 16, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tackle Donald Stephenson (79) during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Chiefs 35 to 17. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Looking at the Chiefs Right Tackle Situation

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Sept. 16, 2012; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tackle Donald Stephenson (79) during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Bills beat the Chiefs 35 to 17. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Branden Albert might be traded. A tackle might be taken first overall. If both these things happen, then Chiefs fans can forget about Joeckel/Fisher sliding over to the right tackle position and replacing the release of Eric Winston. I know many Chiefs fans weren’t big on Winston after his famous “disgusting” speech following Matt Cassel’s concussion and the cheering that ensued, and certainly didn’t shed a tear when the Chiefs released him because of “philosophical differences,” but Winston was still a good right tackle. In fact, Pro Football Focus had Winston ranked as the fifth best run-blocking right tackle in the NFL.

So, what are the Chiefs options for filling the right tackle position? Obviously, the first, and perhaps best option would be to retain the services of Branden Albert at left tackle and then take a Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher with the first overall pick and swing him over to right. With Joeckel’s athletic ability, he might be the best option to transition to right tackle, but Fisher said that he can play anywhere on the line and if he was drafted to play right tackle he would “have no problem with that.” Having two first round picks bookend your offensive line wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Option number two: either keep Albert at left tackle or draft his replacement number one overall, as well as a right tackle. Some right tackle prospects include: D.J. Fluker (Alabama), Brennan Williams (North Carolina), Terron Armstead (Arkansas Pine-Bluff), Menelik Watson (Florida State), and perhaps my favorite, Kyle Long (Oregon). Obviously, these names aren’t as high profile as Joeckel or Fisher if they made the move to the right side, but these options are also much cheaper than the money that Albert is demanding before agreeing to a long-term deal. If that can’t be reached, Albert should be traded while he still has top value, and a pick at right tackle could be in order.

Finally, we arrive at option three, which is a lot like option two, but doesn’t include drafting a right tackle but instead uses ones we already have on the roster; first we’ll start with Donald Stephenson. Although Stephenson played left tackle in college at Oklahoma, and spent 323 of his 380 snaps playing this season in his rookie year, he best projects as a right tackle in the NFL. And while he did see playing time last season for the Chiefs after being a third round pick (74th overall) in 2012, he didn’t exactly instill a lot of confidence in the guys over at Pro Football Focus.

“Stephenson saw his first extended action in Week 11 when he got the start at right tackle before taking over at left tackle for the majority of the remainder of the season. He graded at -6.5 overall, including -7.2 as a pass blocker, and gave up 21 pressures on just 180 pass blocks for a PBE of 89.9 that ranked near the very bottom of the league.”

Yesterday in practice, two other players took snaps at right tackle. Jeff Allen, the Chiefs second round pick from 2012, was one of them. As Adam Teicher reminded us on twitter yesterday, Allen played tackle in college at Illinois, and although he probably projects best as a guard at the NFL level, there is no harm in finding out how he can handle the position.  Much like Stephenson, however, Jeff Allen didn’t receive much praise from the fellows over at PFF.

“Allen was thrust into the lineup at left guard in Week 3 due to an injury to center Rodney Hudson that caused some offensive line shuffling. Though Kansas City had one of the better offensive lines in the league, Allen was the weak link — his -19.1 grade ranked second-to-last among 54 qualifying guards and his Pass Blocking Efficiency (PBE) of 95.7 ranked 55th out of 72.”

And finally, and perhaps the best option, is to move Geoff Schwartz, one of the Chiefs new free agent acquisitions, over to right tackle. I’ve talked about him before on this site, and stated that while Schwartz could be a good right tackle he could be a “great right guard.” Here’s what PFF had to say on Schwartz: “The Chiefs have signed a player with legitimate Pro-Bowl potential if he can get a fair chance to earn the job on merit, and they have done so for peanuts.” That doesn’t sound so bad.

While Schwartz might sound like the best option, we should remember that Stephenson and Allen were rookies last year and it would be too early to give up on a high picks now. But nonetheless, if the Chiefs find themselves in the position to upgrade at the position, they should take it. What do you think Chiefs fans? Move a first overall pick over to the right side, pick a right tackle in the draft, or play someone already on the roster? Fill up the comment section with your thoughts Chiefs Kingdom!

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