While your offensive linemen won’t be the most exciting unit on the football field, they’re an important part of any team’s success. The Kansas City Chiefs learned that the hard way in Super Bowl 55 and spent the early part of the offseason recruiting new bodyguards for Patrick Mahomes. General manager Brett Veach’s efforts culminated in a trade for Orlando Brown Jr., theoretically solidifying the left tackle position for years to come.
Although the big lineman is yet to play a snap wearing red and white, he’s already received a rave review from one of the best ever to do it in Kansas City: Will Shields.
The Kansas City Chiefs made Orlando Brown Jr. the final piece of their rebuilt offensive line
For Chiefs fans, Super Bowl 55 was a night to forget. The club’s front office, however, seems to have learned its lesson from that disastrous night in Tampa.
Heading into the big game, Kansas City’s offensive line was destroyed by injuries, and Mahomes paid the price. The star quarterback ran for his life all evening, leaving him unable to work his regular magic. When the 2021 campaign kicks off, though, he’ll have a brand new set of bodyguards in front of him.
After cutting some of their previous linemen, the Chiefs signed Joe Thuney and lured Kyle Long out of retirement. The club also drafted two linemen, landed Austin Blythe in free agency, and will have Laurent Duvernay-Tardif back in the lineup.
Arguably the biggest piece of that rebuild, however, came in the form of Orlando Brown Jr. While the Chiefs had to pay a sizable price to acquire him — we’ll discuss that more later — he could become an anchor on the left side of the line for years to come.
Will Shields sees plenty of potential in the Chiefs’ new tackle
While the Chiefs couldn’t get over the postseason hump during the 1990s and 2000s, they still had some talented players on the roster. One of those was lineman Will Shields, who spent 14 seasons with the club and has been enshrined in Canton.
Ahead of the 2021 NFL draft, Shields broke down some clips of Brown Jr.’s performance. While there were probably some rose-tinted glasses in play — Shields’ analysis did appear on a Chiefs’ Youtube video — he still spoke incredibly highly of the new tackle.
“Right now, what I’m looking at is just seeing how he actually balances in his stance, what he does, how he does it, how he moves, you know. Can he bend his body? Those kind of things,” Shields explained. “And, you know, what I see here is potential, potential, potential.”
While that’s already a pretty good review coming from a Hall of Famer, Shields wasn’t done yet.
“Once you can get him settled into, ‘This is your guy, block your guy,’ he’s perfect,” Shields said after praising Brown’s hustle. “I think, once he gets here and starts getting his feelings of what’s going on, he’s really a great, great steal for us right now, getting us ready for another Super Bowl run.
If Orlando Brown Jr. can live up to the hype, he’ll be well worth the investment
As noted above, the Chiefs didn’t pick up Brown for pennies; they gave up four picks, including a first-rounder, in exchange for the lineman. While that’s a sizable price to pay for any player, let alone one in the final year of his current contract, it could be well worth it for Kansas City.
While Brown is still relatively young and hasn’t seen much action at left tackle, he has the raw size to keep any pass rusher at bay. Footwork, technique, and other factors obviously matter, but you can’t teach a man to stand 6 feet, 8 inches tall, and weigh more than 350 pounds. That’s quite a roadblock for any defensive players trying to reach Mahomes.
Although there’s a decent amount of speculation involved — it’s not clear if Brown can become the total package and, even if he does, it’s possible that he’ll choose to leave Kansas City as a free agent — he could be a major difference-maker in the midwest. And, if Will Shields is to be believed, he’ll be a key part of the Chiefs’ push for a few more Lombardi Trophies.