Will the Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive line be their downfall?

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Nov 9, 2014; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tackle Eric Fisher (72) during the game against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Left Tackle

Projected Starter: Eric Fisher

The left tackle position is one of only two spots on the offensive line where we know who the starter will be entering training camp. Former first overall pick Eric Fisher enters the season as the starter as he is given another chance to prove he is not a bust and can become at very least a dependable starting left tackle. Fisher is coming off two disappointing seasons. His rookie campaign found him battling injuries and struggling to adjust to the speed and strength of NFL defenders as he started at right tackle. Last season after surgery in the offseason he took over at left tackle for the departed Branden Albert. He continued to struggle early in the year but played at least a little better in the second half of the season.

Here’s a look at Fisher’s PFF grades for his first two seasons.

2013: 811 snaps, -21.5 overall grade, -17.2 pass blocking grade
2014: 1030 snaps, -17.5 overall grade, -11.4 pass blocking grade

So there was a small amount of improvement from year one to year two, but an overall grade of -17.5 still ranked Fisher 72nd out of 84 eligible tackles.

That’s a problem.

However, as I mentioned above he did improve as the year went along. In the first seven games of the year Fisher totaled a PFF grade of -14.9, but in the final nine games he graded out at -2.6. If Fisher had played the entire season at that level (finishing with a -2.6) he would have ranked 40th in the league. That’s still not what you want from a first overall pick, but it is 32 spots higher than he actually finished last year.

So what kind of improvement should we expect from Fisher in 2015?

Well, the initial information is good. Here’s an excerpt from a recent story by the Kansas City Star’s Terez Paylor about Fisher:

"Fisher, a 6-foot-7 third-year pro, said he currently weighs 314 pounds, which is one pound less than his listed weight in 2014, but insists he’s remade his body over the last four months. “Honestly, I cut like 20 or 30 pounds of body fat,” Fisher said. “I’m feeling real good. I think I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in in my life, especially at that weight. “I definitely changed my body.”"

That sounds great, and it may very well be true. However, if you’re getting a slight sense of déjà vu it might be because there was a similar story about Fisher at this same time last year. Once again here’s an excerpt from a Terez Paylor story about Fisher, this time from 2014:

"Among the many areas Chiefs tackle Eric Fisher targeted for improvement entering the 2014 season was his weight. Fisher played between 295 and 300 pounds during a trying, injury-riddled rookie season in which he struggled with his technique at a new position and was sometimes overpowered, all while adjusting to the speed difference between the Mid-American Conference and the NFL. But shortly after he participated in his first camp practice Tuesday — a full two days before his fellow veterans are mandated to practice — the 6-foot-8 Fisher said he now weighs 20 pounds more than he did last season."

At this time last year we were being told that Fisher was going to take a huge step forward after a bad rookie year where he was adjusting to the NFL, learning right tackle, constantly injured, and undersized. With his surgery in the rear view mirror a healthy Fisher back at his natural left tackle position was supposed to show his first round value last season.

That didn’t really happen. As I mentioned, he did show some progress, but still below average. I’m hopeful that the reports this year are accurate and Fisher has capitalized on having a full offseason to build his strength, but I’m taking an “I’ll believe it when I see it” approach before I get too excited. Probably the most encouraging thing I read in that first Paylor piece is that Fisher has taken up boxing to improve his “punch” power and speed. In his first two seasons he often allowed defenders to get the advantage on him because his initial punch was too weak (or non-exsistant).

Left Tackle Status Compared To Last Season: Unknown, Fisher could be improved but he will need to prove it on the field.

Next: Click Here To Look At Left Guard