Chiefs create pressing need in 2021 NFL Draft after release of Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz

In a surprising move, the Kansas City Chiefs released both Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz on Thursday. The moves come on the heels of the NFL’s new league year starting, and the ushering in of this year’s free agency period. Both Fisher and Schwartz missed the Chiefs Super Bowl appearance last season due to injury. While the moves save the team around $18 million against the cap, they beg the question: What will the Chiefs’ offensive line look like in 2021?

The Super Bowl put on full display just how thin the Chiefs were along the offensive line. When Fisher and Schwartz went down, there was little on the roster behind them. Star quarterback Patrick Mahomes was left to run for his life out there, as the Chiefs fell to Tom Brady and the Bucs. Now, with Fisher and Schwartz on their way out, what’s left of the Chiefs offensive line?

Kansas City Chiefs players returning in 2021

It’s not all doom-and-gloom for the Chiefs at the position. The team is likely to get two key pieces of the offensive line back for the 2021 season. Starting guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff and 2020 third round selection Lucas Niang should both be back after opting out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19. Duvernay-Tardiff should slide back into his role as a starter inside, while Niang will likely take over for Schwartz at RT and solidify that side of the line.

The situation on the left side of the Chiefs’ offensive line is much more in doubt, however. With the departure of Fisher, the best option currently on the Chiefs roster is backup tackle Mike Remmers. The front office likely isn’t happy with that possible eventuality, so what can be done to improve the situation? With the team still approximately $3 million over the cap, the solution is likely to come through the 2021 NFL Draft, not free agency.

NFL Draft presents plenty of options at tackle

The Chiefs are in luck, as the 2021 NFL Draft class at the tackle position is fairly deep. This year is about as good as any to need help along the offensive line. With the 31st pick in the first round, the Chiefs won’t get their shot at the top guys in the class. However, there should still be plenty of options. The best of those options is likely to be either Notre Dame tackle Liam Eichenberg or North Dakota State product Dillon Radunz.

If the Chiefs want to address other positions and hold off on tackle, they do have options later in the draft on days 2 and 3, as well. Guys like Alabama’s Alex Leatherwood, Clemson’s Jackson Carman, and Northern Iowa’s Spencer Brown should all be there on day 2 and would provide the Chiefs with some solid options for both power and zone schemes.

On day 3, options are more limited. However, Stanford tackle Walker Little or Oklahoma product Adrian Ealy could provide the team with solid value. If they want to really kick the can in the 2021 NFL Draft, even Iowa tackle Alaric Jackson could be an intriguing late-round option. Losing both tackles isn’t optimal. But in a season with a salary cap crunch, the Chiefs have some tough choices to make, but have plenty of options to address the holes those choices leave behind.