17 Days to Camp: Rodney Hudson

If there's one evolving story to keep an eye at training camp that could ultimately shape the success of the Kansas City Chiefs in becoming an elite offensive unit in 2014, it could boil down to the play of Center, Rodney Hudson.

When the Kansas City Chiefs selected Florida State offensive lineman, Rodney Hudson, in the 2011 NFL Draft, he was considered the plum pick of the second round. After all, scouts raved the former college Guard could become a standout center at the NFL level. In fact, some felt he'd be a late first round pick.

However Hudson's NFL career to date in Kansas City didn't exactly make anyone feel all warm and fuzzy about his long-term prospects. He only made a single start his rookie season and a year later he broke his leg and missed most of the 2012 season.

In 2013, Hudson found his way back onto the field starting 15 of 16 games for the Chiefs. At times, he looked like one of the best offensive lineman the state of Florida ever produced which pushed expectations to the point he'd become a standout center. However, he also struggled mightily protecting his quarterback and often broke down on short yardage running plays.

In their rich history, the Chiefs have produced a long line of stellar performers at the center position and the hope was Hudson would follow in those footsteps. So far, his career in Kansas City has been a mixed bag of inconsistency.

If Head Coach, Andy Reid, is going to re-shape and re-tool his offensive line with big, strong, agile lineman, Hudson might get one more chance in 2014 to prove he's worthy of an extended playing career in Kansas City.

A year ago in the sixth round the Chiefs drafted young, offensive lineman, Eric Kush, who has the chops to play guard or center at the NFL level. Granted, he came from a small college. But he showed in his only start at center a year ago against the San Diego Charges, he could handle the position.

In fact, I would not be shocked if Kush pushed Hudson for a starting role this season. Should that occur, Hudson's long-term visit in Kansas City could be nearing an end.

For now, Hudson is the Chiefs starting center. Don't get me wrong I think he can get the job done but his mindset has to change.

Last year I never felt he was at full strength because at times he looked sluggish off the line. I can get past the fact he blew a few assignments and his guards were forced to bail him out when the push up the middle became too much for Hudson to stop on his own. That happens to every offensive lineman.

You can't argue that Hudson has talent. He has the size and girth you want for an offensive lineman, and if healthy, the speed to pull away from the offensive line on running plays.

The only issue I see that could impede the Chiefs offense this year is the overall play of their offensive line. The key though is Hudson. He can't break down against strong defensive fronts like he did last season.

If he can somehow manage to regain the form that made him a highly regarded second round pick and find the inner drive to push Kush to a back-up role this season, then perhaps his future in Kansas City is just beginning.

Next Up: Marcus Cooper




WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Do you think Rodney Hudson is the answer at center?


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