Thursday, April 01, 2021

4 things to know about new Chiefs C Austin Blythe


Charles Goldman 

The Kansas City Chiefs recently agreed to terms with free-agent C Austin Blythe on a one-year deal. After spending the past four seasons with the Los Angeles Rams, Blythe will jump to the AFC and compete for a starting role. Here’s a quick look at four things the Chiefs Kingdom should know about their newest player:

Six picks shy of Mr. Irrelevant

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

Blythe wasn’t exactly a high draft pick. He was selected in the seventh round of the 2016 NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts at pick No. 248. That’s six spots shy of being Mr. Irrelevant, which is what we call the last man picked in the draft. This doesn’t mean that Blythe wasn’t a good prospect coming out of college, though.

Sure, Blythe was a bit undersized, but he was highly decorated for the Iowa Hawkeyes during his tenure. He started 49 of 50 games played during his career and was made a permanent team captain. In his senior year, he was one of three finalists for the Rimington Trophy, awarded to the top center in college football. Sometimes those are the types of intangibles that make you a solid NFL player regardless of your draft status.

A wrestling background

AP Photo/Stephen Brashear

A lot of Blythe’s technique has been influenced by his background in wrestling. Blythe is known as one of the most dominant high school wrestlers in the state of Iowa, earning three heavyweight state wrestling titles for Williamsburg High School. He owns a 188-11 record with 146 pins, good for the fifth-most in state history as of a year ago.

“Everything in wrestling translates to football,” Blythe told USA TODAY’s Jori Epstein ahead of Super Bowl LIII. “Hand placement, leverage, keeping your elbows in, bending at the knees not the hips. All that stuff translates directly to offensive-line play.”

Blythe won’t be the only former wrestler on the team, as Nick Allegretti also has a wrestling background.



AP Photo/Stephen Brashear

Blythe played center for the Iowa Hawkeyes and nearly earned the highest possible award for that position. He played the center for the Colts when he was drafted and he started all 16 games at center for the Rams in 2020. It’s where he’s expected to play for the Chiefs, but it’s not the only position that he’s capable of playing.

When Los Angeles first inserted Blythe into the starting lineup he was playing the right guard position. He played so well that he earned the starting job, replacing troubled right guard Jamon Brown.

In 2018, Blythe had one of his best professional seasons playing 1,073 snaps at right guard, allowing 30 pressures but no sacks on the season according to Pro Football Focus. If Kansas City finds themselves in another bind where they need to shuffle the offensive line, Blythe could be a valuable piece.

Sean McVay spoke highly of him prior to free agency

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Rams did a lot of shuffling on their offensive line in 2020 after a down year in 2019. Blythe seemed to be the one constant through it all and his head coach knew just how important he was to the success of their offense.

“He really has done a nice job,” McVay told reporters in February. “It’s funny that you mention that because we were talking amongst coaches and with Les (Snead) and his group over the last couple weeks. You talk about the importance of that center position, having the command and the capacity that you’re looking for because of the amount of responsibility that you put on that individual with where the communication starts and he and the quarterback working in unison. He did a great job. He’s definitely somebody that we appreciate and value.”

Unfortunately for McVay and the Rams, they couldn’t manage to retain Blythe. Now, he’ll be working in unison with the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes. Hopefully, he leaves the same type of impression on his coaches in Kansas City.

Popular Posts