Kansas City Chiefs

Chiefs rookie Parker Ehinger is relying on his versatility

Parker Ehinger
Parker Ehinger AP

Parker Ehinger is no stranger to position switches. Good thing, too, since he’ll probably be asked to make another one for the Chiefs.

Kansas City’s fourth-round draft pick, Ehinger played right tackle, right guard and left tackle during his college years at Cincinnati. He had a brief stint at left guard during this year’s East-West Shrine game, leaving center as the only position on the offensive line he hasn’t tried out.

Ehinger spent the first day of the Chiefs’ rookie minicamp practicing at left guard and expects to compete for a position there. But should Kansas City need a plug-in at tackle, Ehinger said he’s ready for that, too.

Regardless of position, Ehinger was a cog in a Cincinnati offense that put up record numbers (and one that featured current Chief Travis Kelce during Ehinger’s redshirt freshman season).

During his junior year, the Bearcats recorded the second-highest yardage output in school history, with 5,982. And last year, Ehinger blocked for an offense that averaged 537.8 yards per game, good for sixth in the nation.

Chiefs offensive lineman Parker Ehinger elaborates on his positional versatitility.

“The versatility adds to his value,” Chiefs area scout Pat Serduto said after Ehinger was drafted last week. “He’s a guy that shows a ton of patience in his game. He has aggression, he knows when to use it, when to pull back.”

At 6 feet 6, 310 pounds, Ehinger has intelligence to go with his size. To get to the second level of opposing defenses, Ehinger has had to learn the quickness and technique involved in moving people out of his way, instead of just relying on his size. The Chiefs are comfortable with the lineman’s toughness and IQ.

“A lot of guys are not afraid to hit you,” he said. “Especially with my frame, being a big tall guy, you’ve got to have a good base and play with low hips. When you get up on the second level, and have your feet close together, you’re gonna (be) put on your butt.”

Ehinger spent more time in college on his feet than on the ground. His technique and consistency were what drew the Chiefs to spenda fourth-round pick on him.

From the time he was a freshman at Cincinnati – when he played in all 13 games – to his senior year, Ehinger looked comfortable along the full scale of the offensive line. He’s especially excelled in the passing game, where Cincinnati was at its best (sixth in the nation last year, with 359.9 yards per game through the air).

“For him, he was consistent,” Sperduto said. “That’s what made his value so high. … He’s such a technique guy. And his patience, that patience, once you make that change, like he did from position, you kind of build up that patience in understanding that this is a different position, ‘I have to adjust my focus, I have to adjust my approach.’”

That’s the immediate plan for Ehinger, who could, again, see his position shift. The Chiefs’ left guard spot is more open to Ehinger stepping in soon and contributing. But he’s also comfortable with playing tackle, if Kansas City finds itself in need of depth there. He has more comfort coming from a right-handed stance, but says he can reverse that if needed.

Wherever he ends up, Ehinger is confident that it’s his talent, not where he is on the line, that matters.

“Right now it’s just mentally preparing yourself for what could happen,” he said. “It’s just mentally preparing myself to know when I get bumped up to that position, I can make that switch easily.”