The 2016 Kansas City Chiefs have high expectations. Coming off their first playoff win in twenty years the team is setting its sights even higher. There is no doubt that this is a team that wants to compete for a Super Bowl. While no team boasts a perfect roster the teams that compete for championships are usually ones with limited weaknesses for other teams to attack. Either that or they possess a single player or unit that makes up for those weaknesses. Players like Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady have carried flawed rosters deep into the postseason and just last year Denver’s defense carried them all the way to the Lombardi Trophy. While I am an Alex Smith supporter, he’s not a quarterback that can carry a team on his back and while the KC defense is very good I don’t think we can count of them to be what Denver was last year. That means that the Chiefs will need a well rounded roster with no glaring weaknesses if they want a shot to win a title in 2016. One of the spots on the roster where I worry a weakness could exist is at guard.
A lot has been said about the need KC has/had at cornerback following the departure of Sean Smith. While I agree it is of great importance to fill that hole in the lineup, the return of Phillip Gaines from injury, the development of Steven Nelson, and the drafting of three corners in the draft gives KC plenty of options to fill that hole. The Chiefs also have several options to try at guard but its a little different situation than at cornerback.
The Chiefs lost their best guard in free agency when Jeff Allen signed with the Houston Texans. While I was never a big Jeff Allen fan, even I have to admit that he played well last season and was clearly the best guard on the roster. While I don’t know that I would have wanted KC to throw huge dollars at Allen (especially if that meant they couldn’t sign Mitchell Schwartz) there is no debating the fact that Allen’s departure creates a hole in the KC offensive line.
Unlike the situation at cornerback, the Chiefs do not have a starting level player like Phillip Gaines returning from injury. They also only used one draft pick on the offensive line (Parker Ehinger) and at this point we aren’t even certain if he will play guard or tackle for KC (he started at both spots at times in college). Regardless, the Chiefs appear to be relying on in-house development to get the job done at guard in 2016.
The question then becomes….is that good enough?
As I see it, the Chiefs have four realistic contenders for the two starting guard spots. Those players are (in no particular order) Zach Fulton, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Jah Reid, and Parker Ehinger. To put things very simply, none of these players have proven themselves to be good NFL caliber starting guards but they all have some potential to get there.
Let’s take a quick look at each of these four contenders, starting with Zach Fulton.
Next: Zach Fulton