The Kansas City Chiefs have installed an interesting system along the offensive line in the last few years since Scott Pioli took over as general manager. In their hopes of not only bolstering the offensive line but replacing aging veterans with capable younger options, the team has put in an unofficial apprenticeship, of sorts, to help college players adjust to the NFL level.
Rodney Hudson was the second round choice of the Chiefs in the 2011 NFL Draft, and he sat for a year behind longtime starter and NFL iron man Casey Wiegmann. Now that Wiegmann is a likely candidate to retire, or at least not to return to KC in a starting role, Hudson will be taking over.
He saw some level in 16 games and enhanced his versatility, but he also had the chance to take in Wiegmann’s game for an entire NFL season before taking over. Now he’s ready to man the middle for the Chiefs offensive front. From the sound of things, it looks like the approach worked well.
"One of the things that we wanted to see is what kind of command that he would take of the offensive line," Crennel told reporters in Kansas City on Friday. "It looks like he’s doing a nice job of it because he’s been asked to (identify) the (middle linebacker) and re-ID on front. He seems to be handling that pretty well. I think that group is working well together. I think that they’re developing that chemistry that you want on your offensive line. So, he’s doing well."
Crennel complimented Hudson quite a bit in interviews and it’s likely that Chiefs fans are going to like their new center for quite some time given the praise coming from Crennel.
"He’s a smart kid, and he’s a competitive kid," Crennel said. "They worked with him a little bit at center (at Florida State). We just felt like he had the tangibles and the intangibles to do it. He’s got to be tough, he’s got to be smart. In looking at him, we felt he had the center’s body type. Sometimes you’ll say, ‘We’ll try this guy.’ Last year we were able to work him at center a little bit and guard a little bit, and we felt like he could be a center so he’s going to do it full time now."
The team just drafted Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson in the second and third rounds this year, so it’s possible that Allen is on the same track behind Ryan Lilja. Stephenson is a swing tackle behind Branden Albert and Eric Winston at left and right tackle respectively. It will be interesting to see whether the Chiefs use those players for depth or whether there’s a replacement plan in the works at other positions.