Ahh, football is offically back!
Almost two weeks into training camp and the Hall of Fame game this week means we have this glorious game in our lives until February 13th. Every August we hear about new guys stepping up, making plays, and earning reps in training camp while watching it carry over to the preseason games as the excitement for the regular season builds. There are several new faces on the Kansas City Chiefs this year and some young guys who will be expected to step into a bigger role. Today we’ll take a look at those new names and faces.
Let’s get this thing started with the offensive line. We could see five new guys lined up to protect the face of the league in Patrick Mahomes. The starting offensive line is shaping up to be Orlando Brown, Jr. (LT), Joe Thuney (LG), Creed Humphrey (C), Trey Smith (RG), and Lucas Niang (RT). Those are some LARGE individuals that are bigger and stronger than the o-line Kansas City rolled out in the Super Bowl as the new five have an average height and weight of 6’6″ and 323 pounds.
With the upgraded offensive line we might see a version of this offense that’s better than ever. Mahomes will have time to throw IN the pocket — even though we all love the flashy playmaking ability he has escaping and making some ungodly arm angle throw across the field — it would be nice to see him stand comfortably back there and deliver strikes downfield. This is also a huge help for Clyde Edwards-Helaire as his 5’8″ frame will nearly disappear behind the line and allow him to explode through the hole as defenders try to figure out where he is at.
Another young edition to this offense is fifth-round draft pick, Noah Gray, as some are calling him baby Kelce. The Chiefs have been trying to find a reliable TE2 for some time, but there hasn’t really been a big need for it with Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill being so efficient. The Chiefs have been known to target that TE2 position at key moments as defenses tend to overlook them often.
Think back to Demetrius Harris — forget the random and frustrating drops — he would disappear at times then all of a sudden BAM he’s making a big play by being wide open on third down and then pushing the ball downfield after the catch.
Having a firm TE2 will allow the Chiefs to open up the playbook and go into more two TE sets and still be efficient in the passing game as defenses will have to respect Hill and Mecole Hardman on the outside. Kelce is going to have the defense’s attention at all times, meaning this opens up the field for Gray to make some big plays this season. The young tight end will also be another target in the red zone for Mahomes and could one day be the guy who takes over when Kelce ends his Hall of Fame career.
Going to the other side of the ball the young defensive players have been showing out. Now generally the defense flashes in the early parts of training camp but the praise surrounding Willie Gay Jr has not gone unnoticed. He has been making several plays in pass coverage and shown good instincts and displaying his speed all over the field. If that can carry over into the preseason and the regular season then the Chiefs just might have their future MLB.
Second-round draft pick, Nick Bolton is still getting the playbook down, but he has still been talked about during camp as well. We should expect to see Bolton take on a bigger role in the defense in year two, similar to what we have seen with Willlie Gay Jr. If it happens his rookie year, that’s even better.
With two (practically three) rookies starting on the offensive line this year in Humphrey, Smith, and Niang. Along with Bolton already making plays in camp and Gray getting first-team reps this draft class could go down as the best in franchise history if they live up to the hype they have received so far. Then add in Willie Gay Jr, CEH, and Niang in year two and y’all, the Chiefs have a great young foundation to move forward with on both sides of the ball.
There is a lot to be excited about going into this season after the blowout in Super Bowl 55. Brett Veach has made the right moves to ensure that never happens again and in doing so we could see the Chiefs reach a level we didn’t know was possible.