Is Eric Kush the answer for the Kansas City Chiefs?
The Kansas City Chiefs had a terrible offensive line last season, leading to a ruptured spleen for Alex Smith. All told, Smith was sacked 45 times and Chase Daniel another four, ranking seventh-worst in the NFL.
This issue led to general manager John Dorsey addressing the group with fervor in the offseason. Dorsey signed right guard Paul Fanaika to create competition with Zach Fulton at right guard, and most importantly traded for left guard Ben Grubbs, sending a fifth-round pick to the New Orleans Saints.
However, the Chiefs also lost their best offensive lineman from last year in center Rodney Hudson. Hudson was signed away by the Oakland Raiders with a record-setting, five-year, $44.5 million deal. With Hudson gone, Kansas City has not signed another center, instead leaving Eric Kush as the lone man on the depth chart.
Kush, 25, is entering his third season as a sixth-round pick out of the University of California (PA). Kush started in Week 17 of the 2013 season against the San Diego Chargers, and had the worst Pro Football Focus grade of any offensive starter for the Chiefs, coming in at -3.5. Kush actually recorded a positive pass-block grade (0.1) but was brutal on running plays (-3.6).
To be fair, Kush was playing in his first NFL game after sitting for 16 weeks. Kush could turn out to be Mike Webster for all we know, but that is the only sample we have to draw data from, despite how small it is. Another reason to worry is the lengths Dorsey went to in hopes of keeping Hudson. From all reports, the Chiefs were in the negotiations to the end, apparently ready to pay top dollar.
If Dorsey wants to address the position, the draft offers plenty of potential for that. Cameron Erving of Florida State is the only center with a first-round grade, but there are late-round options including B.J. Finney of Kansas State. With only one true center on the roster, it seems Dorsey will make some kind of move to provide competition and fortify the line.
With training camp about three months away, the speculation surrounding Kush will only intensify.