As the deadline has passed for players to opt out of the 2020 NFL season, the Kansas City Chiefs will keep trucking along. It was obviously not an easy decision for any player that decided to forgo the upcoming campaign. As has been stated by multiple people, the teams that adjust and adapt the best to the current environment will emerge stronger together.
For the Kansas City Chiefs, they saw three of their players opt out in total. All were on the offensive side of the ball, with two offensive linemen and a running back. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif will continue to help fight COVID-19 as an orderly in his native Canada. Meanwhile, rookie third round pick Lucas Niang will also be missed. The potential long term future at offensive tackle will essentially begin his rookie contract in 2021. Finally, there is veteran tailback Damien Williams.
Williams cited that his decision, was due to his mother recently being diagnosed with stage four cancer. He said, “she’s always been my rock, so this was an easy decision to make.” Now, Williams is hoping to become his mother’s rock during this trying time.
How will the team fare with trying to replace these players? The Chiefs will hope to cash in on their deep depth chart. Elsewhere, there will be some creativity involved in a unique season.
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All Aboard The Clyde Train
Even before Williams opted out, rookie first round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire was expected to have a promising season. His status skyrocketed higher with this difficult decision. As general manager Brett Veach mentioned after they drafted him, CEH has rare talent that others do not possess. Andy Reid even went on to say he is better than Brian Westbrook. That may not be a name who is considered the greatest running back of all time. However, Westbrook enjoyed eight healthy season under Reid in Philadelphia. He amassed 5,995 rushing yards on 1,308 carries with 37 touchdowns to go along with 3,790 receiving yards on 426 receptions with 29 touchdowns.
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Having the dual threat ability that Edwards-Helaire does, is not uncommon with today’s NFL running backs. Nonetheless, it is the ability to break tackles and his big play threat that makes him so dangerous. Clyde was one of the more efficient route runners as a running back that I watched in the 2020 NFL Draft. His attention to detail and suddenness in cuts is much more developed than other backs.
Furthermore, the weapons that the Chiefs already have around him will open up more opportunities. Similar to last season at LSU, defenses that go up against Kansas City will have to account for speed on the outside, leaving open matchups against lighter boxes over the middle of the field. Edwards-Helaire capitalized countless times that way for the National Champion Tigers. Expect the hard working rookie to excel at a much more accelerated pace, following the Williams opt out.
With many teams, coaching and leadership will take on a greater emphasis in 2020. But for Coach Reid, his prowess of grooming offensive linemen into competent mainstays will be a huge factor. All the way back to his early days at Philadelphia, Reid was forced to count on younger talents and push them to their ceiling. Guys like Jon Runyan and John Welbourn were part of his early teams with the Eagles. Two guys that were not highly regarded entering the league, turned out fruitful careers in the NFL.
Following not one, but two offensive line opt outs, Reid will likely need to take chances in protecting superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes. There are certainly names there that have experience. Yet, finding players that he can trust with confidence may be an exercise deep into the season. The Kelechi Osemele signing certainly helps. His powerful nature and excitement to join the Kansas City Chiefs is an inspiring combo. Though if the blocking waivers, Reid will not waste time in shaking up the lineup. He knows that painting by numbers will not do much help, especially this season.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.