Young Chiefs players gain important experience in Week 17

DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 31: Running back Kareem Hunt
DENVER, CO - DECEMBER 31: Running back Kareem Hunt /

A closer look at the Week 17 snap counts for the Kansas City Chiefs reveal several young players who were able to gain rare yet valuable experience.

Week 17 might have been meant the least to the Kansas City Chiefs as an organization, but it meant the most to several young players who were looking to show the coaching staff what they could do if given actual game-time reps. A closer look at the official snap counts from the Chiefs win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday shows that several emerging players finally got a full game to show Andy Reid and his staff what they can do.

All season long, for reasons unknown to those outside of Arrowhead, Parker Ehinger has waited for his chance to start again along the offensive line. He was a rookie starter at left guard, but after tearing his ACL, he was relegated all year long to back-up role and watched Bryan Witzmann and even Zach Fulton play the minutes he’d once earned. On Sunday, he finally had a full game to starter’s reps once again.

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While plenty of attention on Sunday was given to the Chiefs first round pick in quarterback Patrick Mahomes, they also got a great look at the rest of their rookie class. Second round pick Tanoh Kpassagnon turned in a mixed performance but did register 3 tackles for loss and 2 sacks. Fifth round choice Ukeme Eligwe showed great athleticism and also noticed his first sack. Fourth round wide receiver Jehu Chesson broke into the starting line-up after serving solely on special teams all season long. Sixth round draft choice Leon McQuay went from the practice squad two weeks ago to playing 71% of defensive snaps in Week 17.

The Chiefs also got a good look at a couple other defensive players who could factor into depth and special teams in 2018. Ramik Wilson will be a restricted free agent and looked good in Week 17, just as he did in the preseason. It’s hard to explain his complete absence, but the eye test shows he is solid against the run. Fellow linebacker Terrance Smith also intercepted Paxton Lynch and impressed on the field away from special teams.

As the Chiefs face cap concerns in 2018 and look to retool certain parts of their roster, this sort of experience and game tape from Week 17 will tell the front office exactly the sort of depth they can count on and where holes remain.