Bookend Building Blockers: Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz

When you start to build an offensive line that can dominate, you have to start somewhere and fortunately for the Kansas City Chiefs, they have two such players already in place. In fact, if you ask most football experts where that building process would ideally begin, it’s the Tackle positions. Fortunately for the Chiefs, those are the two positions of strength with Eric Fisher holding down the left side and Mitchells Schwartz on the right.

Right tackle Mitchell Schwartz came to the Chiefs a year ago as a free agent when it ultimately surprised no one that he didn’t re-sign with the Cleveland Browns. On March 9th of last year,  Schwartz signed a 5-year, $33M deal which made him one of the highest-paid right tackles in the league. Just like that, he went from a basement dweller to helping an emerging team win a division title.

Pro Football Focus (PFF) graded Mitchell Schwartz at 80.7 and ranked him as the 27th best tackle in 2016. That may not sound all that great until you do the math because there are 64 starting tackles in the league at any given time. While playing for the Browns Schwartz was considered one of the best two or three right tackles in the league and was hailed for his shutting down Von Miller of the Denver Broncos.

After a year of adjusting to Andy Reid’s West Coast Offense, we can anticipate a more seamless year in picking up any changes that may be coming to the scheme, which Reid is known for. Of all the offensive linemen the Chiefs have, Mitchell Schwartz is considered the strength of the OL.

PFF graded left tackle Eric Fisher as the 34th best tackle with a 76.7 score in 2016. He was at 72.5 in 2015 so he’s headed in the right direction. Of his performances in 2015 PFF said,

“… we did see signs of something different. Fisher didn’t exactly become an all-pro, but there were strong games, including two perfect outings in pass protection and 13 games including the playoffs during which he didn’t allow his QB to hit the turf.”

Many have criticized John Dorsey’s first pick as a general manager of the Chiefs in 2013 when he took Eric Fisher #1 overall. However, consider what PFF had this to say about the tackles in that draft in a piece released last June called, “Can Eric Fisher Become One of the NFLs Top OTs?

“You only need to look at Fisher’s class of 2013 to see what we mean. It was supposed to be a strong year for tackle prospects, and five of them went in the first 20 picks of the draft, including Fisher at No. 1. Of those five, two — Chargers’ No. 11 pick D.J. Fluker and Giants’ No. 19 pick Justin Pugh — have already been moved to guard, Jaguars’ No. 2 pick Luke Joeckel has been consistently poor, and only Eagles No. 4 pick Lane Johnson has shown any kind of consistent stretch of excellent play at tackle, and he has a suspension for PEDs on his record.”

On August 1, 2016, five months after signing Mitchell Schwartz, the Chiefs re-signed Eric Fisher giving him a four-year $48M contract extension to lock up their bookend tackles for the foreseeable future. While Fisher still hasn’t proven to be one of the best in the league at left tackle, he’s progressing in the right direction — even if that is a very slow progression — and along with Mitchell Schwartz represent a solid pair of tackles around which the team can build. With Mitch Morse holding down the middle of the line, it’s time to see what JARD does to transform an average line into a top ten group who can survive the barrage of any team they will face in the playoffs.

While it’s difficult to project that JARD (John-Andy-Reid-Dorsey) will add to the offensive line this offseason, it should not surprise anyone if they bring in a good interior offensive free agent lineman. On March 12, 2015, two years ago, Dorsey traded for OG Ben Grubbs who was supposed to turn that position around from the woeful efforts of Mike McGlynn in 2014. Although, Grubbs ended up playing only 7 games and then being released at the end of the year… then retiring, the important point is, Dorsey did his job of attempting to improve the weakest position along the OL. Then last season, Don Stephenson exited and Mitchell Schwartz was brought in… leading this Chiefs fan to “trust in Dorsey”… for the most part. A lot will be known in the next few weeks and I, for one, am crazy excited to see how the offensive line is dealt with.

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  • berttheclock

    Great beginning, Laddie. Now, may I direct you and fans to read the thread over at NFL.com by Bucky Brooks, this AM. He breaks down 5 potential offensive linemen in the upcoming draft. The title of his thread has in part “Mauler vs. Dancing Bear”. Ryan Ramczyk is the mauler, while, Garett Bolles if the Dancing Bear. He includes Cam Robinson, Forrest Lamp and Dan Feeney.

    What is striking in his review is how he views their respective strengths and weaknesses in being better or worse in power blocking schemes or zone blocking schemes. He talks about problems they may face at OT against NFL speed rushers as they have not seen that much talent against them in college. He talks about a lack of push back involving several of them. Also, he brings up who might be better at pass blocking, but, lack run blocking skills.

    What is interesting about the thread and even what you have mentioned above is how schemes are so different in the NFL, especially, considering how Reid and Heck want to run their type of blocking. One size simply does not fit all.

    One point about the drop off by Schwartz from 2015 to 2016. He played hurt part of 2016 and it did affect his foot work.

    • ladner morse

      I researched Cam Robinson yesterday. He looks great. The reason I did some followup work on him is that he has shown up in as a possibility in some recent mocks I’ve done. He’d make a wonderful Guard… although I know that no one is projecting him to Guard you can see all the traits when you watch him.

      • Merlin

        Do you think the Chiefs have a shot at him? Will some tackle needy team take him before #27?

        • berttheclock

          Two other interesting points made by Bucky Brooks were 1) a NFL player comparison for each and 2) NFL teams needing offensive linemen. Strange thing is the Chiefs were never mentioned for any of them.

          • Merlin

            Not sure if the national pundits see a Chiefs need at OG like we do here.

          • berttheclock

            The NFL teams he mentions needing help at offensive line positions include Carolina, Cincy, Minnesota, Denver, Detroit, NY Giants, Browns, Falcons, Dolphins, Saints, Jags and the Seahawks.

        • ladner morse

          I would think that Cam Robinson would be gone by #27 but if he’s there they have to take him. He could help fix the Chiefs interior in a hurry.

      • freshmeat62

        Have you seen his tape against Garrett of TX A&M? That is the one that impressed me. The only times Garrett was able to put any pressure on the QB was when Robinson ignored Garrett completely, and blocked to his right. I’m assuming that was the way those plays were designed.

        Most are projecting him at G and not T.

    • Chiefly Bacon

      Amazing what a difference scheme fit makes. Even at premium positions like CB, there are zone guys and man guys. Both have to be able to do some of each, but the respective strengths that teams look for can be very different. This is one reason we sometimes see decent players like DeVante Bausby and David Irving depart to other teams. Bausby was a zone CB and Irving is a 4-3 DE.

  • Chiefly Bacon

    After watching both Tim Williams and Ryan Anderson against Washington, I have come to a conclusion. Either both are over-hyped, or, as I think is more likely the case, Washington has some very good OTs. It’s also possible that Saban was using Anderson and Williams to keep the pocket contained so that Allen could reek havoc up the middle.

  • Ribs

    I think our tackles are pretty solid. They may never finish at the top of the ratings board but I wouldn’t expect to see them at the bottom either. Morse had a really good year with improved health from his rookie year. LDT has gotten better every year, though like Fisher it has been a slow climb. If Ehinger can improve as much as Morse did from the first year to the second year and also stay healthy we might have a really good line.

    • berttheclock

      Hey, read your comment concerning Alex Anzalone over at AA. Questions concerning his staying healthy may cost him.

  • freshmeat62

    Fisher’s PFF score tells it all. He’s not great. He’s not terrible. He’s pretty much middle of the pack. What scares me is when I see some d-lineman have him bent at about a 90degree angle backward. I’m wondering is he going to break? That’s why I keep hoping he’ll put on 20# or so of muscle, and not just that measly little 5# he supposedly put on last year.

  • berttheclock

    Off topic, but, an interesting observation was made at Rotoworld about the reason the Jags were no longer interested in Julius Thomas. His poor blocking skills began to telegraph what schemes were being planned by the Jags. Perhaps, Gase, who worked with him in Denver, might solve part of that with Miami.

    Also, Rotoworld believes Dorsey will tag Berry and let Poe walk. This will bring up the very large question of whether or not Berry will back down in late August about not playing.

  • ladner morse

    Current expectation is that unless they sign one of them next 48 hours, #Chiefs will franchise tag Eric Berry and let Dontari Poe be UFA— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) February 27, 2017

    • berttheclock

      Yeah, that is the tweet Rotoworld has used this AM.

      • ladner morse

        Ilf you try to force the hand that feeds you……. you can get your hand cut off.

        • berttheclock

          Will representatives of Price-Waterhouse be handling the envelopes for announcements?

          • ladner morse

            Can you imagine if the announcement of a draft pick goes the way the Oscars went last night for Best Picture???

            #OMGeeWizzGolly!

          • berttheclock

            Yes, at the Oscars, the rep had to take the Oscar out of the hand of the “La La Land” fellow and hand it to the “Moonlight” person. Imagine, a rep rushing on to the stage at the draft and ripping a team hat off a new draftee.

          • ladner morse

            Especially a first rounder.

            Let’s think back to Alex and Aaron….. and how that would have gone down.

    • berttheclock

      So far, there is no word that forces for Lt General John Bell Hood have cut the telegraph lines into Nashville.

      • berttheclock

        Dorsey working under Major General George H Thomas, may yet prevail.

  • ladner morse

    “Report: Chiefs expected to tag Eric Berry, let Dontari Poe hit free agency” – Pro Football Talk

    http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2017/02/27/report-chiefs-expected-to-tag-eric-berry-let-dontari-poe-hit-free-agency/

    • ladner morse

      If the Chiefs are really tagging Eric Berry I have to believe it is only until July 15 deadline so they can either have more time to strike a deal or set him free……. which would probably be based on whether or not they draft (or sign) a Safety to replace him.

      • PaulfromnorthMO

        A lack of a deal with Berry might increase the probability of a first round safety.

    • berttheclock

      Meanwhile, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports has put percentages on tags. He has 3 at 100 percent, Cousins, Short and Chandler Jones, with Bell and Melvin Graham being around 90 each. He lists both Berry and Poe as 50/50 each with his suggestion a last minute deal will be made for Berry and Poe receiving a tag. Don’t know where the money will come from, but…………………

      • ladner morse

        Dorsey has paid or extended so many other players like Colquitt, Bailey, DJ, Hali, JC, Mitchell and Fisher that he’s left himself very little in he pot to pay his star defensive players. Now he ain’t to a pot to pi$$ in.

        Funny how “pi$$” worked out in that sentence.

        • berttheclock

          I remember many of us argued with Ben A. over at AA over the huge amount of money being given to Houston. His contract really skews the overall roster.

          • ladner morse

            Now… do you not pay Berry… having paid up to Houston. It’s a real dilemma for a team trying to inch closer to a title.

          • berttheclock

            Especially, when he was just voted MVP of the team by fellow players.

          • PaulfromnorthMO

            Paying him is one thing, over paying is a completely different story.

    • PaulfromnorthMO

      I wonder if that report is just BS from one side or the other. Of course I wouldn’t put it past the national media to just make stuff up.

      • ladner morse

        1) They have to have something to write about… or
        2) A GM has leaked (or asked them to leak) a story… or
        3) A player — or his agent — has leaked (or asked them to leak) a story.

        • PaulfromnorthMO

          It’s too bad the have to resort to games if some one leaked. I would be tempted to tell the other party to take a leak elsewhere.

          • ladner morse

            LOL!!!!!

  • berttheclock

    Yet many other reasons whey agents of NFL players work their hardest at obtaining up front guaranteed money for their respective clients. Just read through the long list of recent cuts by teams and you will see a pattern being made of the cuts are mostly due to monies being owed if the player is not cut by March 9th. Plus, add age to the mix and you will understand why upfront money is so craved by players. Most players in the NFL never see the full amount of their once splashy deal ever coming to them.

  • ladner morse

    Jets expected to try to trade Sheldon Richardson https://t.co/GVGXXtxCtS #NFL #Jets— The Redzone (@TheRedzoneorg) February 27, 2017

    • berttheclock

      Yet again over the money which would be due. He has become odd man out. But, speaking of the Jets, there is some pundit over at, I believe NFL.com, who has made an argument why Alex Smith would fit the Jets.

      • PaulfromnorthMO

        I saw that, Stevenson’s cousin (I can’t remember his name) would be screaming we trade for Geno.

        • berttheclock

          micah

          • berttheclock

            The same person who once said “LOTs are boring”.

          • PaulfromnorthMO

            I knew you would know. Thanks

      • tm1946

        Just me but it is always fun to talk about trades, changing players, trying to improve the team…. then we have the Chiefs always a dollar short and a day behind the power curve.

  • ladner morse

    Have just listened to a radio interview on PFT with Joe Mixon and his account of that fateful night. He didn’t know the woman. She had blown cigarette smoke in his face outside the restaurant. He apologizes.

    I’ve taught school for 39 years and I know the difference between

    +”I’m truly sorry”… which is a state of permanent regret

    and

    + “I’m sorry I got caught”… which is pitiful sounding.

    One is pro-active and taking responsibility… the other is feign sadness for their actions.

    • tm1946

      Showing my age and my dislike for today’s standards but there are actual people who talk about what a great kid he is. Maybe he is but immature is has his picture beside the word in the dictionary, as a minimum.

    • berttheclock

      or, “If I offended anyone by my comments, I would like to apologize”.

      Very similar to comments from a national entertainer on a so-called news hour show, who loves to say “With all due respect…….”, then, call the person names or falsely accuse them of something outrageous..

  • ladner morse

    Congrats to @ImFasterThanYa on being named as this year's recipient of the Mack Lee Hill Rookie of the Year honor. https://t.co/oUconHJ3Gr— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) February 27, 2017

  • ladner morse

    Congrats to @Stuntman1429 on being named this year's recipient of the Derrick Thomas MVP Award. https://t.co/9M3NxaKOvH— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) February 27, 2017

  • ladner morse

    .

    Congrats to @Stuntman1429 on being named this year's recipient of the Derrick Thomas MVP Award. https://t.co/9M3NxaKOvH— Kansas City Chiefs (@Chiefs) February 27, 2017

  • ladner morse

    Top Free Agents Ranking of Eric BerryPFT #5https://t.co/nkwhcNlBzA #3CBS Sports #2ESPN #3Gun B the top paid Safety 1 way or d other.— Ladner Morse (@Laddiemorse) February 27, 2017

  • Stan Colbert

    Arrowheadpride zays, the Chiefs are working on a contract extension for LDT!

    • tm1946

      OK, but 5 years, 41.25 million. If he is not a good Guard, as in better than average, seem a bit expensive. But that is how Dorsey runs, so he knows more about it than me.

      With our two Tackles, another building block?

      • Stan Colbert

        I agree on the expensive! He does appear fairly durable. It’s quite a shock to me, actually!

        • tm1946

          I do not consider he a building block, think he is barely above average – not much of a run blocker. 8 mil+ a year for this guy, could have had a free agent for about the same or a college guard for a hell of a lot less. Payed as if a top 10 player and he is not one, just like Fisher…. this is on Dorsey.

          • Stan Colbert

            PFF does have him rated as the 5th best pass blocking OG and he is younger. AIR-Reid doesn’t put such a high value on run blocking. That is why they run so many screens.

    • berttheclock

      He is, now, the 4th highest paid OG in the NFL. $20 M guaranteed and $8.25 M per year for the 5 year period. Laddie’s countless E-Mails to Dorsey must have gotten through. Or they have become Snap Chat buds, eh?

      Now, please, Mr D, find a new LOG.

  • berttheclock

    Had I taken a long snooze this afternoon in Hazel Dell (which I did) and awakened (which I did), the last thing I would have dreamed of reading at Rotoworld about NFL transactions was a big extension deal with LDT (which I did).

    Wonder what happened on those tweets back and forth between Nashville (Chad Spec) and KCMO (Dorsey)?

  • First of Lad, thanks for the article. I appreciate where we came from with the OL and I see nothing but a positive side, even though Bert is not happy with Bosche, for example and wants an FNG to come in and save the day. Now I have noted two Guards I would draft(well, one a C/OG). I think Lamp is a reach to trade up for, Elflein is a fit and I leave it there(round 2 for Pat). This OL will be better in 2017. How much? Let’s say 5 or 10% better, presuming the unit remains intact(that means the front 7 or 8 players btw, not just starters). LD-T? The man has gone up in ability each of his seasons. He is intelligent, a very decent pass blociker. I see no reason to presume he will step backwards. That is the front 5 because I also like Ehinger. Could I add one? Sure. This year give me Elflein. Next? Another Tackle. And so on. Give me Elflein and leave the trade up alone to not waste money. I like Lamp a lot. He will be costly. Elflein fits the Chiefs persona almost seamlessly. Character, versatility, speed, feet, etc. We could, move in direction to move Morse off to Guard if necessary. Or Swing Elflein(he has play all across the front 5.

    I have to say it: I hope they don’t ante up on Berry. It is too much money and Poe at 50%(2016) is not Poe and not worth 8-9 mil either. He is not worth a 43-DT as another example. Does not mean I want to get rid of either player. If I had to lose one? It would be Poe.

    Money matters? really a different story altogether.

    • berttheclock

      Not sure about your mentioning some player named Bosche. The only Bosch I am aware of is an OG from West Virginia named Kyle Bosch who will not be in the draft until 2018. As to selecting Pat Elflein, the C/OG from Ohio State, he would fit moving to center as he won the Riminigton Trophy for his excellent center play last year. I like his versatility. As far as Lamp is concerned, I would like to see him selected, but, only if he is still available at 27. This draft is far too deep for Dorsey to give away lower picks in order to move up. There will be quality defensive players available in both the 2nd and 3rd rounds

      As far as Ehinger is concerned, I believe he could make an excellent swing man if given more time to bulk up and add strength.

      • tongue in cheek nickname for Parker.

        • berttheclock

          Thanks.

      • If Fulton started 16 games and had no feet, Parker is well elevated above that. Hence, he may be the weak part of the front 5, and I am going to accept that as where they are going. Bulk/strength up? He will continue to build and improve. Draft that next OL is part of my deal.

  • berttheclock

    With the contract extension of so much money to LDT, look for Dorsey to really put on his Green CPA visor in the next few days to find even more money for the Cap.

    • Chiefly Bacon

      Good news is, it’s an extension, so it shouldn’t add much, if any, to the cap this year. I think, in the long run, we’ll see this as a good extension. Seems a tad high now, but it’ll be a bargain later.

      • berttheclock

        I still recall my jumping up and yelling “Yes” at the TV screen, the day it was announced Dorsey had taken him. One of the few times, Dorsey and I have been on the same page. The other time I remember fondly was the spring I was in KCK playing nurse to my dying mother and seeing on the TV that King Carl had drafted Derrick Thomas. Many other times, it has been a bit of hit or miss. such as really wanting David DeCastro and Romeo and Pioli took Poe. That pick has had many enjoyable moments up to this point.

  • Chiefly Bacon

    Now that I know he’s going to be around for a while, it’s time to come up with a real nickname for LDT. Top runners for now are Dr. Who? Captain Canada, and, The Montreal Monster. Other ideas?

    • berttheclock

      The French Canadian ladies might say he is a gros muffin, or tombeur, or goujon muffin or even beau gosse. All are variations of the words “Stud-Muffin”.

  • berttheclock

    Just checked the Indy Combine schedule starting tomorrow. Did not know they are broken down into 4 groups with each group being there for 4 days. The first group will begin tomorrow. First, medical exams, weights and measurements, etc, then, various psych exams, interviews, followed by testing. The schedule is up on line with the position breakdowns.