ST. JOSEPH, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs had high hopes for their offensive line last year after investing heavily in the positional group following a Super Bowl LV loss in which the unit lost. been submerged. They spent free agency dollars on left guard Joe Thuney, traded draft picks to acquire left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. from the Baltimore Ravens, then selected center Creed Humphrey and right guard Trey Smith during of the 2021 draft.
They might have exceeded those expectations.
“It worked out better because on the one hand we had confidence in Orlando and Thuney,” general manager Brett Veach said. “On the other hand, we had high hopes for Trey and Creed, but those guys playing at the level they did was definitely a nice surprise.
“Those are the hopes you have for all the guys you’ve drafted. Sometimes it hits like that. And sometimes it takes a while, and sometimes it doesn’t work out at all. So for those guys to come in and be able to play straight away, it was great for us.”
The Chiefs finished second last season in pass block success rate (67.8%) and third in run block win rate (74.0%). Individually among regular starters, Humphrey, a second-round pick from Oklahoma, was the best pass-blocking center (97.7%). Thuney, who signed a five-year, $80 million contract after spending five seasons with the New England Patriots, was first among PBWR guards (96.6%), followed by Smith (96 .0%), a sixth-round selection from Tennessee. .
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The Chiefs want more this season.
“We want to be known this year as one of the most physically dominant lines in the league,” Humphrey said. “We’ve got the pieces. We’ve got the guys to do it. That’s our whole vision, to be physical, for the physical to show up and for the teams to know when they come up against us that they’re going to be playing against an offensive line that plays the whistle, which ends games and things like that.
“Everyone came with a willingness to work and a desire to improve together. Everyone worked very well together. Everyone worked on all of their strengths, all of their weaknesses, and it worked out for the best. . We are looking to continue to improve only in this camp.”
Thuney added: “It started from the beginning of [offseason practice], just talking about it, watching a movie, seeing what we can do to improve, running the play, passing the play, the whole offensive line aspect. You always want to be a physical offensive line. It takes all five guys. It starts there and it continues to build and build. Boot camp is a great place to develop it even more.
“It was great to have a year under our belt. Obviously it’s early in training camp and there’s a lot to improve, improve. But so far so good.”
Rebuilding last year’s offensive line was overdue. The Chiefs spent very little on free agency or first draft picks on their offensive line in the late 2010s. The line broke down in the 2020 season and completely collapsed in their Super Bowl LV against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes spent much of that 31-9 loss chasing after a relentless pass rush.
Picking up Brown at left tackle was a major move in the rebuild. The Chiefs sent their 2021 first-round pick, along with three other picks, to the Ravens to acquire the 6-foot-8, 340-pound tackle. But Brown was 42nd in pass block success rate (87.1%) among tackles who played at least 100 snaps last season. Left tackle is therefore a place where the Chiefs offensive line can still be improved.
“I want to progress in almost every way,” said Brown, who played at right tackle for three seasons in Baltimore before moving to left tackle with the Chiefs. “I want to be a better run blocker, a better pass blocker, a better leader…allowing them to rely on me when they need me the most. That’s something I’ve had a little bit with. wrong last year not putting myself in the best position because games were close on some third downs or in close games against some talent.”