The Kansas City Chiefs ranked higher than some might think in PFF’s offensive line rankings.
The Kansas City Chiefs offensive line had its fair share of struggles throughout the 2019 season.
Injuries were the biggest culprit as several starters missed time during the regular season. Left tackle Eric Fisher was the first to miss time after suffering a groin injury during practice before Week 2. He attempted to play the opening drive against the Oakland Raiders Week 2, but would only last four snaps before heading to the bench.
Needing core muscle surgery, Fisher would miss most of the Raiders game, along with eight more games through week 10. It was the first time that Fisher missed time due to injury going back to his rookie season in 2013. Cam Erving stepped in as the replacement, which still haunts many Chiefs fans to this day.
Left guard Andrew Wylie missed time with an ankle injury leaving him out for three weeks during the middle of the season before returning to play against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 9. Right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif would miss time in weeks 9 and 10 as well with an ankle injury.
The middle of the season was stressful trying to figure out the starting offensive line unit. Even Mitchell Schwartz‘s consecutive snaps played streak ended during that time. Martinas Rankin joined Kansas City and was thrust onto the field to fill in for an injury only to leave for Injured Reserve that same drive.
Luckily, the Chiefs signed offensive guard Stefen Wisniewski, who would start for Wylie at left guard the final two weeks of the season. Kansas City elected to keep him as the starter throughout the playoffs. Needless to say, the offensive line looked much better in the playoffs once they finally got healthy and comfortable.
Kansas City Chiefs have a top-five offensive tackle duo
Schwartz specifically had a historical playoff run as he was on the field for 142 pass-blocking snaps, only allowing one hurry. Pro Football Focus put out their Top 50 best players headed into the 2020 season last month, and Schwartz ranked 23rd on that list. He was the highest-ranked offensive tackle.
"“You could make an argument — as it seems I am with this list — that Mitchell Schwartz isn’t just the best right tackle in the league but the best overall tackle and possibly best offensive lineman in the league. His run to the Super Bowl was one of the greatest postseason performances of any player at any position in NFL history, but because he’s a right tackle, few people noticed. Schwartz pass-blocked for 142 snaps — with his team in obvious passing, hurry-up situations for much of it — and allowed just one hurry. He is an elite lineman.”"
Eric Fisher might not ever live up to the expectations of being selected number one overall in the 2013 NFL Draft. However, following a slow start to his career, he has been an above-average left tackle for the Chiefs for the last three years. In a league that is desperate for even average offensive tackle play, Fisher has not only been consistently on the field until 2019 but improved each season. Fisher and Schwartz ranked fifth in PFF’s offensive tackle duos headed into 2020.
The offensive line looks very similar to how it did entering the 2019 season following Stefen Wisniewski signing with the Pittsburgh Steelers in free agency. With Fisher and Schwartz handling the tackle spots, that leaves LDT, Austin Reiter, and Wylie along the interior. The interior group played much better in pass protection than they did in run blocking. Wylie ranked 12th among guards in pass blocking, while Reiter finished ninth. When it came to run blocking, Wylie fell to near the middle of the pack while Reither finished in the bottom third among centers.
LDT is coming off the lowest PFF grade of his career at 59.7. Coming back from a season-ending injury in 2019 next to a new starting center and dealing with injuries throughout the year didn’t help his cause. Overall, the offensive line ranked 12th in the NFL per PFF’s rankings.
Behind the starting five, Kansas City has Martinas Rankin returning from injury, second-year center Nick Allegretti, Ryan Hunter, and third-round pick Lucas Niang. The Chiefs also signed offensive tackle Mike Remmers in free agency who has experience at both guard and tackle. With Remmers on the roster, Niang will likely redshirt during the 2020 season as the Chiefs develop him into a starting tackle. He was one of the top developmental offensive tackles in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Given the Chiefs’ desire to pass the ball, the offensive line is made up of three average starters, one above-average starter, and a star at right tackle. Without any glaring holes, that makes up for a good unit headed into 2020. In an offseason that has limited all activities, having the same group as last season looks to be a good thing.