Patrick Mahomes’ blindside will be under new management in 2021 following the addition of left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. from the Baltimore Ravens in April. Despite having been in town for less than two months, the buzz around the 6-foot-8, 345-pound Pro Bowler is already palpable as the Kansas City Chiefs near the start of mandatory minicamp on June 15.
In the latest episode of its Kingdom Short series, the Chiefs digital team gave a behind-the-scenes look into the club’s 2021 NFL draft experience back in April. That included a pre-draft sitdown with Pro Football Hall of Fame guard and Chiefs legend Will Shields to review some film of Brown Jr., who he is plenty excited about.
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“Right now, what I’m looking at is just seeing how he actually balances in his stance, what he does, how he does it, how he moves, you know. Can he bend his body? Those kind of things. And, you know, what I see here is potential, potential, potential. That’s one thing you want to see is a guy that really has just begun to sort of grow into what he wants to be and how he wants to be as a football player,” Shields said while evaluating Brown’s Ravens game tape.
“I think, once he gets here and starts getting his feelings of what’s going on, he’s really a great, great steal for us right now, getting us ready for another Super Bowl run.”
Chiefs OL Cracks PFF’s Top-10 Rankings for 2021
On Monday, June 7, football analytics giant Pro Football Focus released its offensive line rankings for all 32 teams heading into the 2021 season. As expected, the revamped Chiefs front featuring new additions Brown Jr., Joe Thuney, Kyle Long and Austin Blythe — plus draft picks Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith — had a strong showing, checking in at No. 7 overall.
“After completely re-shaping their offensive line, the Chiefs now field one of the best combinations of high-upside starters and depth in the NFL,” wrote PFF senior analyst Steve Palazzolo.
Interestingly, Kansas City’s frontline finished 11th best in PFF’s final 2020 offensive line rankings despite “a position-high 53 pressures” charged to Mahomes in the regular season. Neither measurement, though, factored in the team’s Super Bowl dismantling up front due to injuries, which had at least some influence on speeding up the Chiefs’ rebuild in front of their $503 million man.
Kansas City’s Week 1 opponent, the Cleveland Browns, remain in PFF’s top spot for 2021, while the defending champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers aren’t far behind at No. 5.
Brown Jr. Explains Decision Behind New Jersey Number
Before he ever takes the field in a Chiefs uniform, Brown Jr. will make history with his new threads. Set to wear the No. 57 jersey for Kansas City, the 25-year-old left tackle will become the first offensive lineman (17th player overall) in franchise history to wear the digits, and only the second Chiefs frontman to wear a jersey number in the 50s dating back to Brian Waters in 2000.
During his May 27 press conference to wrap up the first week of organized team activities, Brown Jr. was asked about the inspiration behind his decision to wear 57 going forward.
“I feel like 57 gave me the opportunity to represent two men that had an incredible impact on my life,” Brown Jr. told reporters. “That’d be Jammal Brown  and my dad wearing 77 and 78. I just felt like it was an opportunity to — I would have got 75, but Mike [Remmers] has 75. So I was like, ‘You know, 57 is available.’ I just thought it was a great number. I definitely thought it was unique, but it definitely gives me the opportunity to represent those men.”
No. 57 most recently belonged to defensive end Alex Okafor while Brown Jr.’s collegiate No. 78 — previously donned by Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Bell — is one of 10 jersey numbers retired by the organization.
Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!