Kansas City Chiefs: An Offensive Line Analysis
With the addition of what should be two new starters, I thought it would be a good idea to do an analysis of the Kansas City OL.
The Chiefs have made some positive moves this past week, but the team knows a lot more has to be done. They need a right tackle and depth.
I thought I would expand a bit and give some statistics you will rarely see anywhere.
Lets look at the starters at this point.
Albert did not have the greatest of seasons in this year's rankings. His overall ranking was in the bottom 20 percent among offensive tackles in the league. He gave up seven sacks and 18 QB pressures playing left tackle. He was also guilty of being called for 13 penalties—that was more than any tackle in football.
I think a lot of the problem with Albert was that he played hurt. He started the year injured but was still willing to play. One would have to wonder if that in any way hindered his performance. I believe it did.
Albert is too gifted to not succeed at that position. We have not seen Albert at his best.
As a straight-ahead run blocker, at the line, he has average strength. It's when he's on the move that he is most dangerous.
At Virginia, Albert pulled frequently from his left guard position. The longer he ran, the bigger the impact. He was a BEAST when it came to blocking on the move—I mean he exploded into guys on the second level and drove them into the ground. That was the big reason for his success—his explosion on the move.
Albert reminded me of a young Willie Roaf. Not the Willie Roaf that Chief fans remember, but Roaf when he first came into the league as a rookie. When Roaf came into the league he did the same and was the fastest Offensive Lineman I had ever seen.
I would think that with Charles and Jones, who are better in space, Albert should get to pull more which will add to his value of having to concentrate only on pass blocking. If healthy, he'll get a lot better. He has the feet to protect the quarterback.
One more note about Albert: Many have said that he was a natural guard in college and that he didn't play tackle because Eugene Monroe was better. That is totally untrue. The reason he played guard is because Monroe refused to. Albert made that move inside because he was an unselfish player. So before people jump to conclusions, they shouldn't speak at all unless they know the whole story.
Waters had a very poor season as well, mostly because of aging. He ranked 20th amongst players at his position, and most of the reason he was that high was because of his excellence in pass protection. For the season, he was charged with only giving up one sack. In addition, when blocking straight ahead, he opened a few holes. But his mobility is the problem at this point in his career.
His other problems? Penalties.
Like Albert, he was the most penalized player at his position in the game.
He still a good player, just not a great one.
Weigmann ranked 23rd out of the 32 starting offensive centers last year. At his age, his better years are behind him, but that doesn't mean he can't play. He was only slightly better at pass blocking than Niswanger, but he graded out much better as a run blocker.
Weigman, of course, played in a zone-blocking scheme in Denver and played extremely well these past few years, proving that he was not as washed up as the Chiefs thought. He still excels in making line calls and adjustments, and he can still pull.
Remember those classic sweeps that Priest Holmes ran under Vermeil? It was Weigmann that was the first guy down the field, not Roaf or Shields. The problem now, however, is how much does he have left?
Well, we all know his story, so I won't repeat it. Lilja graded out at 14th at offensive guard—which is very good. It is by far the best grade of any Chief lineman last year.
Despite being 290 pounds, it is his run blocking that stood out more than his pass protection. He was in the top five out of 64 guards when it came to screen blocking—great news for the Chiefs with both Albert and Weigmann excelling in that area.
He did not give up many sacks, but you have to take into account the quarterback that was behind him all these years.
Indianapolis usually leads the NFL in pass protection, but its not because the line is that talented. It's because they have Peyton Manning. It is Manning's intelligence, ability to get rid of the ball quickly, short drops, making quick reads, and throwing the ball away that skewed their stats favorably. The same was true with Miami's Offensive Line when they had Dan Marino at QB.
Without a doubt though, Lilja will play as well as Cassel plays. He can only hold his blocks for so long.
Do you really want to know? I didn't think so.
Actually I thought he did OK, but looks are deceiving. He finished 57th. He played less than 850 snaps and still gave up nine sacks and was responsible for 24 QB pressures. His run blocking was just as bad, and he got flagged a lot to boot. Its very clear with this guy—bad starter, but decent, experienced backup.
As for the backups, well, if everything was great in Kansas City most of the guys mentioned would be the backups. Niswanger provides depth at center. Ndukwe played out of position at tackle, but should be considered as their depth at guard. After that, all bets are off.
So where does that leave the Chiefs?
They need to get a stud right tackle for sure and a few guys they can groom for the immediate future.
Many people now feel that Bulaga and Okung don't seem to fit at this point.
But they're wrong.
Both of those guys are outstanding run blockers and would be great right tackles. In addition, that player would provide depth at left tackle, should Albert get hurt. Last year, they played the season without one. They hopefully will learn from that mistake.
No matter how you slice it, the Chiefs now have a better line, and that's good news.
But it's not rebuilt yet. Not even close, but for now its ok and with a great ORT, they'll be alot better
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