6 Days to Camp: Eric Fisher

Photos: Denny Medley/Charles LeClair USA Today

It wasn’t quite the rookie season the Kansas City Chiefs had hoped for their first overall drafty pick of 2013 but Tackle, Eric Fisher, did make strides last year. However, with the free agent defection of, Branden Albert, it’s time for the young tackle to assume the spot he was drafted to take one day.

The first time I saw tape on Central Michigan Tackle, Eric Fisher, I was impressed by his maulers attitude, physical play and his relentless pursuit in blocking as many people as he could on every snap.

So when the Kansas City Chiefs took him first overall in the 2013 draft, I actually felt he could start the season ahead of veteran, Branden Albert. Well that didn’t happen in part because Fisher wasn’t NFL ready coming out of the draft.

Looking at his physique, talent level and mindset entering the NFL it was easily assumed he could start at left tackle right out of college. However, Albert after getting the franchise tag from the Chiefs, wasn’t about to vacate his spot to the unproven rookie.

So last year, Fisher played exclusively at right tackle for the Chiefs. His play to say the least was inconsistent. At times, he looked like a rookie. However, on the flip side of the coin when he showed flashes of greatness, you understood why the Chiefs took him ahead of Texas A&M Tackle, Luke Joekel.

But asking any rookie to step out of a small time college program, isn’t an easy transition no matter the talent you might possess. In fact, even if he’d come from a BCS program it’s highly unlikely Fisher would have walked into the starting left tackle spot last season had Albert not been with the Chiefs.

In retooling their offensive line, the Chiefs didn’t really settle on a group until late in the year. However, they never wavered, when healthy, to get Fisher on the field as much as possible. They knew he’d struggle at times and they had to fear at some point he’d hit the rookie wall.

What they didn’t realize was Fisher wasn’t as polished as they thought when he came into the program. In other words, he needed time and coaching seasoning to develop into a starting left tackle.

With a need at right tackle paramount for this franchise, it was an easy spot to put Fisher to open the year. In camp, he had to battle high expectations of being the top overall draft pick and second year man, Donald Stephenson.

In camp, Stephenson proved to be a better tackle but Fisher saw most of the action at right tackle until he fell victim to injuries.

However, when he went down with an injury, Stephenson filled into the starters role and nobody can deny, that he and the switch form, Jon Asamoah, to veteran, Geoff Schwartz, at right guard, gave the Chiefs their best chance to win up front.

That’s not to say Fisher didn’t get back on the field late in the season but he was under the microscope and the Chiefs were in the hunt for a playoff spot. So Head Coach, Andy Reid, had to play his five best athletes along the offensive line. That meant Fisher healthy or not might sit on the bench.

In the off-season, Fisher admitted to a pair of surgeries one to repair a sports hernia and the other for his ailing shoulder. With camp just around the corner, he’s expected to be ready to go.

If the Chiefs offense is going to play at the same level it did at the end of the 2013 season, Fisher has to play large. After all, he’s now in charge of protecting the backside of their franchise quarterback, Alex Smith. If he struggled doing that this season, KC’s offensive attack will suffer.

In all honesty, Fisher has far more upside than the man he’s replacing in the starting line up this year. Albert was a solid tackle but I never though he was an elite performer. Fisher has the qualities to become one of the games best.

However, I’m not ready to anoint him the next Willie Roaf or John Alt. He has a lot to live up to in my view and much more to prove to his teammates. He’s entering year two of his rookie contract and he already has more than enough money to take care of his family for life.

With that out of the way, he needs to earn that coin and do exactly what he’s being paid handsomely to do at the NFL level. He needs to become a destroyer and shut down the left side of the Chiefs offensive line.

If he can do that, Chiefs fans will probably be very happy in December when their team could be fighting for a playoff spot or even better – a division title.

Next Up: Derrick Johnson

Can Eric Fisher rise to the occasion in 2014?

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