Cam Erving is rewarding the Kansas City Chiefs for their vision and patience

Andy Reid is saying good things about Cam Erving as the Kansas City Chiefs are giving him every chance to become their next versatile super sub.

Expectations have fallen far for Cameron Erving ever since he first entered the National Football League as a heralded first round choice out of Florida State. However the Chiefs are hoping they’ve at least raised considerably ever since they acquired him last summer for a song.

The Cleveland Browns selected Erving in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft as a versatile lineman who was also an athletic wonder. Scouting reports admitted he needed experience to grow into the role after switching lines (a la Kahlil McKenzie) just two years prior, but they also saw him as a potential starter at any one of five spots along the line.

Two years later, the Chiefs picked him up for a fifth round choice, one of Brett Veach’s buy-low trades in the same summer that brought Reggie Ragland over for a fourth round choice from the Buffalo Bills. Ragland was the more exciting of the two, and he also reaped quicker dividends. But this offseason, fans are finally seeing what the Chiefs saw a year ago: a chance to be patient with a prospect who needed it.

Erving might not be taking over for Eric Fisher or Mitchell Schwartz or even Mitch Morse anytime soon, but he is turning into a valuable sub on a team that just lost Zach Fulton, a plug-and-play lineman at a number of positions who earned a big money deal from the Houston Texans. His loss left the Chiefs particularly vulnerable in case of injury along the line—unless, that is, Erving is ready to play a more vital role than he’s played in a few years.

With the Browns, Erving played left guard, center and right guard. Just last year, the Chiefs played Erving in parts of 13 games and he even stated four of them, earning time at right guard while Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was out. He also played left tackle in the team’s final win over Denver in Week 17 as Andy Reid rested all of his starters besides Mitchell Schwartz.

In training camp Erving has been filling in for Mitch Morse as the center works his way back from a foot injury that marred his entire season. Head coach Andy Reid has praised Erving all the while, and now that Morse is back, Erving is getting looks at left guard. Reid responded positively when asked about Erving’s performance so far:

I thought he did some good things. You know he can play all three positions and the fact that he got in and was able to play center, you have to know everything there, you’re in control and he did a nice job with that. Then he stepped in and got some guard work today.

The Chiefs are doing everything they can with Erving in terms of coaching him up and giving him reps to have him ready to be a Fulton-esque asset. Erving, for his part, sounds like he’s matching their efforts with the same intensity, meeting each opportunity with a good work ethic and pushing his natural talents to grow as hoped.

Erving might not ever reach the first round ceiling projected on him whenever he first arrived in the NFL, but the Chiefs will certainly reap the benefit of their own investment. The plan to acquire and nurture Erving for a full year looks like it will pay off with further ability and security along the line for the 2018 Chiefs.