Kansas City Chiefs: Breaking down the starting left guard competition
By Matt Conner
Bryan Witzmann’s ascent to NFL starter has been an impressive one, a testament to his determination and hard work coupled with some obvious natural talent and a large frame.
Witzmann entered the NFL as a small-school prospect from South Dakota State with the Houston Texans—the first of three NFL teams who would take a closer look only to pass. The Texans spent 2014 evaluating the 6’7 tackle and decided against keeping him (think about the poor perpetual state of their line and then read that again). The New Orleans Saints did the same in 2015, and the Dallas Cowboys were the third and final rejection the following year.
Witzmann caught on with the Chiefs during Ehinger’s rookie season in 2016 and stuck around through the entire year and offseason. After John Dorsey was allowed to walk early from his final year as a GM, Brett Veach ponied up a small extension for Witzmann to stick around, as it was clear he was enamored with his potential and wanted to see more. The two-year, $1.3 million deal guaranteed that we’d see Witzmann through 2018.
What few saw coming was that Witzmann would stave off all competitors for the left guard role, a surprise that began when Andy Reid stuck the Wisconsin native in the preseason line-up and never looked back.
The Pros for 2018
If there’s a single thing working for any player in this contest, it’s that Witzmann is the incumbent. That’s most important for anyone. This should be his position to lose, since his game tape is the freshest. That said, that film isn’t going to bowl over anyone in particular since Witzmann was clearly the weakest link on the roster.
Witzmann was an experiment for sure coming into last season and he not only earned a starting role but kept it when his primary competition worked his way back. How much better will he be with a year of experience? That’s a serious question to which the Chiefs might desire an answer.
The Cons for 2018
If the Chiefs were even fairly confident that Witzmann could be the guy beyond this year (or even this year), isn’t this the point at which you offer another extension? Witzmann will be an unrestricted free agent after this season, and the Chiefs might let him walk. If his days as a starter are done, you let the contract play out. If not, you offer him now while he’s likely going to be as cheap as ever.
The lack of financial commitment as well as the aforementioned competition, even now in camp, shows that the Chiefs themselves are trying to figure this whole thing out. Witzmann has a solid angle to start again but he will once again have to best the rest in camp.