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“Ready Or Not, Here I Come, You Can’t Hide. Gonna Find You And Make You Want Me”

No, that was the Fugees and not Brett Veach making his pitch to prospective free agents, in fact more likely they were indeed better at hiding than our GM is at seeking. While Veach added some of his targets in free agency it’s fair to say whatever song he was singing failed to land them all. So as the free agency period peters out it’s all eyes on the draft on 29th April.

It’s also fair to say the Chiefs currently still have some significant holes in their roster to fill. The required pieces aren’t just depth pieces either, at time of writing there is no recognised LT (and only 1 RT with any NFL snaps), WR2 needs addressed and a pass rusher to give Frank Clark some much needed help must also be on the Chief’s shopping list.

Locked In: Andy Reid, Brett Veach Earn Extensions - Full Press Coverage
Brett Veach & Andy Reid have work to do before the 2021 season starts

With that in mind I thought I’d take a look back and see how rookies have fared under Andy Reid and what sort of impact we might expect from the Chiefs 2021 rookie class, specifically looking at the key positions listed above.

Lets start with the biggest roster hole (just as Chiefs Twitter loves to tell us) : OT, although we’ll take the liberty of extending this to whole offensive line. Patrick MSince 2013 when Andy Reid became HC the Chiefs have drafted 8 offensive linemen.

YearRndPickPlayerPosGames Started (Season 1)Games Started (Overall)
2020396Lucas NiangT00
20197216Nick AllegrettiG09
20164105Parker EhingerG45
2015249Mitch MorseG1549
20146193Zach FultonG824
20146200Laurent Duvernay-TardifOL057
201311Eric FisherT13113
20136170Eric KushC11
Average

4

129

6

(excludes L Niang)
37

(excludes L Niang)

Some familiar and popular names on this list and in LDT at least one of them will be pushing for starts in 2021 however on average draftees on the O-Line see only 6 starts in their first season. If the depth of this draft class at tackle is to be believed the Chiefs may be turning the clock back to 2013 and Eric Fisher by starting an untested rookie at LT. He won’t be the no1 overall pick either, how many of the top tackles will be off the board by the time the Chiefs pick at 31? Do we trust someone straight out of college to protect QB1’s blindside?

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, MD: The Doctor Who Plays Right Guard For The  Kansas City Chiefs
LDT will be looking to regain his starting guard job in 2021

Sticking with the offence the Chiefs have re-signed DeMarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle but Sammy Watkins has left for AFC rivals Baltimore. We know Brett Veach made unsuccessful offers to JuJu Smith Schuster and Josh Reynolds, suggesting they’re still very much in the market for a big body X/slot receiver. Surely we’ll be looking to give Patrick Mahomes more weapons? Anecdotally Andy Reid is cautious about giving opportunities to young receivers, but what do the numbers tell us?

YearRndPickPlayerPosGames Started (Season 1)Games Started (Overall)
2019256Mecole HardmanWR513
20186196Tremon SmithWR11
20174139Jehu ChessonWR11
20164126Demarcus RobinsonWR032
20165165Tyreek HillWR157
2015376Chris ConleyWR534
20157233Da’Ron BrownWR00
Average4142220

We’ve taken 7 wideouts during Andy Reid’s tenure, the highest being Mecole Hardman in R2 in 2019. Hardmas was a Pro-Bowler (all together now “As a punt returner” ……sigh) in his debut season but even then he only started 5 regular season games. Tyreek Hill is one of the blue chip players and leader of the Chiefs Legion Of Zoom offence but in season 1 he wasn’t the primary pass catcher he is now – just 1 start.

Chiefs' Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman settle who's fastest in recorded race |  FOX 4 Kansas City WDAF-TV | News, Weather, Sports
Mecole Hardman & Tyreek Hill – fast on the field but slow starters in KC

Lastly lets look at defensive edge, 5 players drafted in this position since 2013. You could argue over Frank Clark counting towards this total as we traded our 2019 first rounder for him, for the purposes of this exercise we’re only looking at rookies though. The slow starting trend continues here, none of the players below took significant starting snaps in their rookie season and only Tanoh Kpassagnon has made it to double figures in his KC career. Breeland Speaks is often a (admittedly massive) human stick used to beat Brett Veach over his draft record – will this be the year we draft a franchise pass rusher?

YearRndPickPlayerPosGames Started (Season 1)Games Started (Overall)
20205177Michael DannaDE11
2018246Breeland SpeaksDE44
2017259Tanoh KpassagnonDE124
20166203Dadi NicolasDE00
20137207Mike CatapanoDE00
Average413816

So what does all the above tell us? Well, maybe not much apart from confirming what the eye test tells us – it is notoriously difficult for a rookie to break into Andy Reid’s A-Team. Heck, even Patrick Mahomes had to wait for game 16 to see any action in his first season!

Admittedly this is a small sample size and the whole NFL is in uncharted territory dealing with a COVID reduced salary cap however to me it points to one of two paths. 1) Brett Veach is far from done in free agency or has a couple of trades up his sleeves to bolster the locker room with an additional veteran presence or two or 2) We’re entering a brave new world in Kansas City and we’ll have a host of young guns to cheer on as we try to right a couple of wrongs from February.

(All data taken from http://www.pro-football-reference.com)

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