The offensive line is like a bass guitar. You hardly notice it, but when it’s good it makes the music that much sweeter. And the Chiefs are poised to make some sweet, sweet music with their big boys come 2012.
The trenches in Kansas City were a major focus in the draft, with GM Scott Pioli selecting guard Jeff Allen of Illinois in the second round and former Sooner tackle Donald Stephenson in the third. Neither of them will start, and that’s the best news Chiefs fans could hear about their new hogs.
The practicality of drafting players who have little chance of starting in the second and third rounds is up for debate, but the last time the Chiefs didn't direly need immediate help on the offensive line, Bad Boys II was still in theaters.
A revamped interior featuring center Rodney Hudson and Jon Asamoah features former second and third round picks who sat for a year and then started the following season, a path Allen seems destined for in replacing veteran Ryan Lilja. Lilja, while considered the new weak point along the offensive line, will still be a valuable, experienced presence.
But it’s the two tackles who will make this line special. Branden Albert, while consistently middle of the pack in pass protection, excelled in run blocking last year. According to a story by Josh Looney on the Chiefs' official website, Kansas City halfbacks were considerably more successful running behind Albert on the left, averaging 5.61 yards per carry. The right side, on the other hand, netted only 3.25 yards per carry.
Thanks to a new Chief, though, the right side will be just as effective as the left.
In what very well may be the biggest upgrade in the entire NFL, the Chiefs reeled in free agent right tackle Eric Winston from Houston. Replacing the porous, putrid and penalty-prone Barry Richardson, Winston helps put the Chiefs over the top from a good offensive line to a great one. Few offensive lines will be better than Kansas City’s in 2012.