Guard Contender #4: Parker Ehinger
Entering the 2016 NFL Draft I badly wanted the Chiefs to draft someone in the early to mid rounds that could compete for a starting guard spot. So when the Chiefs called Parker Ehingers name my response was…..who? Look, I’m not ashamed to admit that I had never heard of Ehinger. He was viewed by many as a late round tackle prospect that might be best suited to play guard in the NFL. Now, when KC picked Mitch Morse (a college tackle) in the second round to be their next center many thought it might have been a reach as well and he ended up being arguably the best rookie lineman in the NFL last season. So I certainly won’t count out Ehinger in the guard competition this season.
That having been said, I think he has an uphill battle to earn a starting job. First of all, the other three guards he is competing with all have been in the league for multiple seasons and all three have already started games for the Chiefs. That means that Ehinger has to quickly adjust to the speed of the NFL game and learn the KC playbook before he even has a shot to start outperforming the other three and earn himself some playing time. Is it possible? Sure, but I think we can all agree he has some work to do in order for it to happen.
When I watched tape on Ehinger I saw two things that I liked right away. First, he has good technique and awareness. He rarely misses assignments and does a good job of picking up stunts and blitzes in pass protection. I have no idea how smart Ehinger is, but he certainly plays like he has a full understanding of the game. That will be a huge plus for him if he can carry that on into the NFL. The other thing I like about him is that he shows good strength in SOME aspects of the game. If he has his footing Ehinger is almost never driven backwards. He holds his ground and keeps a nice pocket for the quarterback. Ehinger also has a great punch that can really stun a defender if he lands it effectively.
Now let’s talk negatives. First, I don’t think Ehinger has the agility to be effective in the NFL at tackle. He looks slow trying to take the edge away from speed rushers and if that’s the case in college I can’t imagine its going to look any better going up against NFL caliber players. If the Chiefs feel the same way that could be bad news for Jah Reid playing guard because we’re back to Reid being the only real option at tackle off the bench. Getting back to Ehinger, the other thing that disappointed me was the lack of push that he is able to get. Despite clearly having good strength to hold up against bull rushes and deliver a good punch to defenders he rarely drives defenders out of a play. At 6-foot-6 and 310 pounds he looks like he should be able to move guys but I just didn’t see it on his college tape.
While I would LOVE it if Ehinger proved me wrong, I don’t know that I see him earning a starting job as a rookie. If he does end up having to play though I don’t think it will be horrible because of the strengths I listed above. That having been said, I don’t know if those strengths will be enough to overtake the more experienced options ahead of him.
Finally, some closing thoughts….
Next: Closing Thoughts