Rookie Review: Kansas City Chiefs draft class proved highly productive
Darwin Thompson and Nick Allegretti
The last two selections for Brett Veach in the 2019 class were running back Darwin Thompson and center Nick Allegretti. Given the lack of top talent at the running back position, fans were gushing to see Thompson get playing time early on. Unfortunately, Andy Reid thought it was better for him to sit and develop during his rookie season, an opportunity that most of the other rookies in this class did not get the luxury of.
Sitting in a crowded running back room, Thompson only saw 107 regular-season snaps. The only game in which he went over ten snaps was closing out the Oakland Raiders blowout game. Kansas City’s running game struggled mightily for most of the season. Some of that had to do with the lack of talent of health in the running back room, but most of it came from the struggling offensive line. Left tackle Eric Fisher missing considerable time early in the season was a major issue, but the real problem came along the interior of the offensive line.
The truth of the matter is, it didn’t really matter who was in the backfield; the running game was not going to have much success without push upfront. Defenders were quickly meeting running backs in the backfield, which made it extremely difficult for even a stud back to get plus yardage. Thompson has the agility and elusive traits along with the contact balance that gets people excited, but his lack of vision to find holes would not prove successful behind that offensive line. He struggled at times in pass protection as well, which was another reason he lacked time in the offense.
Speaking of the offensive line, with Mitch Morse getting a massive deal from the Buffalo Bills this offseason, Austin Reiter stepped in as the starter in the middle. Let’s just say that it wasn’t what many were hoping for. The Chiefs elected to spend their final draft pick on Allegretti out of Illinois. He was unable to get much playing time during his rookie season as the team elected to continually grab guys out of free agency or trade to fill in the holes left behind from injuries throughout the year.
Allegretti has some flexibility to play guard or center. He’s the most recent late draft pick developmental project that the Chiefs have been known for taking. The most prominent trait that pops off the screen when you turned on his college tape was his desire to finish his opponent. It’s something that is needed along the line. While he showed some solid ability to play zone concepts, which is what the Chiefs want to do, he also lacks the athleticism to get out in space. There were evident signs of struggle against quicker linemen in pass protection along with stunts and counters.
Chiefs fans will be watching to see what Veach does to address the offensive line in the 2020 offseason. After seeing Patrick Mahomes miss a few games in 2019, fans should be asking for all the offensive line help they can find. Mahomes might be an exceptional talent and have the ability to elude pressure, but limiting those hits will go a long way to keeping him around for many more years to come.