Who Will Start at Right Guard for the Chiefs in 2021?
After a complete offensive line overhaul and a talent infusion for the group tasked with protecting star quarterback Patrick Mahomes, the Kansas City Chiefs have a good problem: they may have too many good players on the interior offensive line.
The Chiefs' right guard position is especially interesting, though it's also one player thinner after the injury to veteran guard Kyle Long, who is expected to miss training camp after suffering a knee injury this week.
Without Long as the presumed favorite, the right guard question is even more pressing: who's going to be the starting when Week 1 arrives?
Arrowhead Report's Jordan Foote and Conner Christopherson joined me on Friday's Roughing the Kicker Chiefs Podcast to talk about just that.
It's no secret that Kansas City made some moves this offseason to solidify the interior of their offensive line. The Chiefs signed Joe Thuney to a long-term deal in free agency, cementing him at left guard for the present and beyond. But when it comes to the right side, there isn't a clear-cut answer.
The Chiefs come into camp with a slew of guards on in the running for the starting position. Last year's starter, Andrew Wylie, was tendered in the offseason and will likely be on the outside looking in. The same goes for 2019 seventh-round pick Nick Allegretti, who started in nine regular-season games and all three postseason games at left guard last season.
COVID-19 opt-out Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is slated to be back with the team, increasing the competition level for the position. Before his opt-out, Duvernay-Tardif started in 57 games at right guard for the Chiefs, but his return doesn't make him a lock for the starting role.
In another offseason move, Kansas City brought in Long, a longtime guard for the Chicago Bears. While Long has experience at both tackle and guard, it's the latter where he's expected to contribute the most following his one-year retirement. Early rumblings from practice say Long had impressed in his short time with the Chiefs, but a knee injury has halted the hype train around him. Long is now likely to miss the remainder of offseason activities, including training camp and the preseason, with the hope that he could be back by Week 1.
Another player that has excited some people is Trey Smith. Kansas City's sixth-round pick was largely considered the steal of this year's draft as his talent has become obvious to many. Smith certainly has a path to become the Chiefs' right guard of the future, but I would be surprised if he starts there this season.
When it comes to who is going to start, Long looked to be the leader in the clubhouse, but with all the Chiefs' depth, his injury isn't a huge hit to the room. With that being said, the race for the starting position is starting to heat up.
Duvernay-Tardif hasn't been at OTAs, but head coach Andy Reid said he expects Duvernay-Tardif to be back for mandatory minicamp next week. His contract makes him virtually immovable, so he'll be in the hunt. As for Wylie, before Long's injury, he was likely competing for a roster spot rather than the starting spot, but now he'll be firmly in the conversation for the Week 1 starter. Barring a strong push from Smith, it's a two-horse race at this point. With Wylie's experience last season at that position and his attendance at OTAs, he could even be in the lead.
Overall, the room is crowded, but that turned out to be a good thing with the news of Long's injury. But when he gets healthy, there could still be some well-known names not make this year's team. With the talent infusion that has taken place during the offseason on the offensive line, it's a welcomed answer to a long-asked question.
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