Chiefs 2021 mock draft: Revamping the offensive line

Kansas City Chiefs, 2021 NFL Draft, Lucas Niang. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Kansas City Chiefs, 2021 NFL Draft, Lucas Niang. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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Lucas Niang, Kansas City Chiefs
Lucas Niang returning to action could be massive for Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Kansas City Chiefs have won two straight AFC titles and they don’t look like they will be going anywhere anytime soon, not as long as Patrick Mahomes has something to say about it.

With that being said, the Chiefs have undoubtedly found themselves in a bit of a pickle in the 2021 offseason with the salary cap being reduced league-wide to $182.5 million.

The Chiefs released veteran offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz on Thursday, freeing up a significant and necessary chunk of cap space in the process. Unfortunately, the Chiefs are still in the red.

The Chiefs are going to have to say goodbye not only to their former number one pick Fisher and longtime starter at right tackle Schwartz, but other unrestricted free agents like Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, center Austin Reiter, and other players on either side of the ball.

The Chiefs rightfully sold out for a shot at continuity in 2020 so they could repeat as Super Bowl champions, and they came close (although the Super Bowl itself was a bit of a bloodbath).

Now in need of a reload, we’re going to find out what Kansas City general manager Brett Veach is really made of. He’s done such a tremendous job of building this roster and finding players who fit the culture and identity of the Chiefs, but it’s time to bring in a significant number of new faces for the first time in at least two or so years.

One of the key pieces of the reload will be 2020 third-round pick Lucas Niang, a right tackle prospect out of TCU who was a voluntary opt-out in the 2020 season. Along with the return of fellow opt-out Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, the Chiefs should be able to re-establish the right side of the offensive line with in-house guys, at least on paper.

With that said, they will need to look to the NFL Draft to fill needs elsewhere, as they have virtually no salary cap space to sign impact veterans unless they make even more significant roster cuts.

Let’s take a look at a new Chiefs mock draft scenario with these latest cap casualties in mind.

The Kansas City Chiefs are somewhere between a rock and a hard place here.

The top offensive tackles will almost undoubtedly be off the board at this point. By the time their pick rolls around in round two, the next tier of tackles could also be off the board.

The Chiefs are now in a position with the release of Eric Fisher and a need to keep the majority of their draft capital that they might have to take the best tackle available at pick no. 31 overall.

Liam Eichenberg might have a fairly firm second-round grade, but he could end up being a solid selection for the Chiefs here with their backs in a corner.

Eichenberg, if nothing else, has been extremely productive and consistent. What he lacks in athletic talent (by comparison to some other players in this class) he makes up for with technique.

Although it’s collegiate experience, Eichenberg has played a lot of football and should be able to step into the NFL and start from day one even for a team like the Chiefs, who will need him to play at a high level right away.