It appears Eric Fisher will be moving back to left tackle.
At the NFL’s annual meetings in Orlando, Chiefs coach Andy Reid revealed Fisher will return to the position he played in college.
“Right now I think I’m going to move him to the left side,” Reid said. “That’s where he played in college, although Donald Stephenson played there for me and I know he can do that too, but I think I’m going to start off with Eric at left and keep Donald at right and then we roll.”
This offseason, the Chiefs lost Branden Albert, their longtime starter at left tackle, who signed a lucrative deal with the Dolphins. That news wasn’t surprising, but both Reid and Chiefs general manager John Dorsey had been evasive when asked whether Fisher or third-year pro Donald Stephenson — who started four games at left tackle in 2013 when Albert was out because of injuries — would be the starter.
By moving Stephenson to right tackle, the Chiefs are showing a lot of faith in the 23-year-old Fisher, who rocketed up draft boards during the scouting process last year and was taken No. 1 overall but suffered at least five injuries during the season — knee, shoulder, groin, back and a concussion — and struggled while learning how to play right tackle.
Fisher’s Pro Football Focus grade of negative-17.8 ranked 70th among 76 offensive tackles who logged at least 25 percent of his team’s snaps. He also allowed seven sacks (53rd) and 35 hurries (63rd). He did show marked improvement, however. In his first nine games, he posted a grade of negative-19.9. In his last five, he posted a positive grade of 2.1.
“I think he showed that you know what, it slowed down for him the final third of the season,” Dorsey told The Star in January. “He began to get comfortable at the tackle position and realized there were different types of pass rushers in the National Football League.”
Dorsey said that Fisher, who is listed at 6 feet 8 and 305 pounds, has the potential to gain 15 to 20 pounds.
“He understands that he’s got an offseason to get bigger and stronger, and size will help him a little bit,” Dorsey said. “I’ve always said this: If I had to do it over again, that was the guy I’d still take because I think he’s got as talented of feet, lateral agility and balance of any tackle I’ve seen in a very long time.
“We all knew going in that he’d be able to function and play his first year, he’d have to learn certain techniques it took to play in the National Football League, and we knew that in year two, he would come in and be a really good player and that’s what we’re banking on.”
The words ring truer now than ever.