When the K.C. Chiefs opened the offseason, they had a goal of completely reinventing the offensive line to ensure that what happened to Patrick Mahomes in the Super Bowl—a la running for his life for four quarters—never happened again. The early results look good for the Chiefs in training camp as the new unit comes together.
The new cornerstone on the line after releasing two accomplished veterans in Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher is Orlando Brown Jr. The Chiefs cut their longtime bookends in hopes of pursuing a new high-ceiling option to take over for the next half-decade. After a failed pursuit to land Trent Williams, they were able to convince the Baltimore Ravens to trade them Brown in a major pre-draft deal that cost them their first round pick.
Landing Brown shifts the age at the position in a serious way, giving them a two-time Pro Bowl performer who is still only 25 years of age. Given that Fisher and Schwartz were both at or into their thirties, the trade allowed them to accomplish their goal of raising the ceiling at the position while getting much, much younger at the same time—something even the Williams signing would not have done.
Orlando Brown Jr. has been named among the league’s ten best offensive tackles.
From an outside perspective, the trade earned high marks from a lot of analysts around the league who believed it was a nice score for the Chiefs when everyone knew they had a major need. Instead of settling for a veteran signing like Russell Okung or Alejandro Villanueva, the Chiefs were able to land the coveted blue chip.
Former NFL legend Joe Thomas agrees with those who’ve weighed in with a thumbs up by naming Brown as one of the league’s top tackles. In his latest column for NFL.com, Thomas, who was himself a future Hall of Famer at the position, uses his knowledge of what it takes to be a top-tier performer at the position to list the best in the league.
Brown comes in at No. 7 overall in Thomas’s top 10 NFL tackles for the 2021 season and notes that he didn’t allow a single sack or quarterback hit in the second half of the season after switching from right to left tackle to replace Ronnie Stanley. Thomas writes:
"Brown’s size (6-foot-8, 345 pounds) makes it look like he’s barely trying at everything he does. The only way to beat him is to run around him — and he knows it! He uses patient technique to force rushers around the edge, then leans on his good short-area quickness to accelerate and push the rusher past the quarterback. Brown should be a great addition in Kansas City."
The question before Brown now is just how well he will fare at the position now that he’s settled into playing a different style of football—away from the run-heavy playbook of the Ravens. The Chiefs have given him every opportunity to not only man the position he wanted all along, at left tackle, but they’ve also positioned him to make a lot of money and showcase his talents in primetime as the blindside protector of Patrick Mahomes.