Rookie lineman Yasir Durant could be an important player for the Chiefs in the present and future.
It’s undecided at this point whether or not Yasir Durant will be called upon in Week 15. In the bigger picture, however, it seems the Kansas City Chiefs like what they have in the first-year offensive lineman.
Last Sunday afternoon, the Chiefs called upon Durant in a moment of distress when right tackle Mike Remmers was forced to leave the game with a back injury. Remmers had been the team’s backup right tackle thrust into starting outside when longtime cornerstone Mitchell Schwartz was also sidelined by back pain. For several weeks, the Chiefs had leaned on Remmers to start opposite Eric Fisher and bookend the offensive line. Suddenly they were forced to their third option.
On the whole, Durant did enough to help the Chiefs move the chains when they needed to protect a lead they’d built over the Miami Dolphins—enough to earn their 12th win of the season. He committed zero penalties in his 24 total snaps in relief of Remmers. However, he also surrendered some pressure that made his inexperience quite evident.
After the game, head coach Andy Reid was asked about Durant’s work and it was clear that the right tackle has made his mark on the coaching staff in his first season in Kansas City. Reid notes that he is uncertain up front as to whether or not Durant will play on Sunday but he has positive things to say from there.
"“I haven’t met with Andy Heck on all that, but I would tell you that he did some good things. He’s young, you know, so there’s some things he can do that he needs to work on. But he’s a great kid and, again, his heart is in the right place and he wants to do well. It’s just a matter of experience, I think, there.“He’s a smart kid … The one unique thing about him is that he plays guard and tackle for ya and can do both at a good level, so I think he’s got great upside. The one thing none of us know is that he hasn’t had to do it for an extended period of time, so a week is a week more than he had, which is a plus. One game is one more than he’s had before, so we all watch it and see how things go with it."
Speaking of experience, Durant’s appearance on Sunday was his longest of the season by far. Remmers had been removed from a game for a series or two before due to injury, but the veteran was able to return after Durant had filled in for 12 snaps against the Carolina Panthers.
While the Chiefs have been slow to make any seismic changes to the offensive front in 2020 despite a clear need for improvement, it also seems apparent that the front office is likely going to attend to Patrick Mahomes‘ protection up front in the offseason. Mock drafts link the Chiefs to offensive linemen early and often, and the Chiefs will also get Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Lucas Niang back after opting out this year. It’s quite possible the Chiefs could have up to four new starters by next September, depending on the long-term health of Schwartz.
Durant has clearly earned the trust of the coaching staff to be an insurance piece outside, and he’s in the running to potentially start an NFL game against the New Orleans Saints in Week 15. Beyond that, however, Reid has also made it clear that he likes what he sees and that versatility is a part of his value to the franchise.
Given this, it’s possible that Durant’s future includes playing into the sort of sixth man role that Remmers is playing this year (remember he’s on a one-year deal). In a best-case scenario, perhaps another long offseason and full preseason next summer with the team will give the Chiefs a potential starting candidate at one of multiple positions both inside and out.
That’s not a bad set of options for a player who was once a rookie free agent signing out of the University of Missouri who just hoped for a good enough chance to turn some coaches’ heads.