The Kansas City Chiefs took a step toward protecting quarterback Matt Cassel in the upcoming NFL season by signing the Arena Football League's reigning Offensive Lineman of the Year, Rich Ranglin, on May 16.
Ranglin is a 6-foot-3, 315-pounder out of Central Connecticut State, which also happens to be the alma mater of Chiefs GM Scott Pioli. Prior to his senior year with the Blue Devils, the four-year letterman was named preseason All-American, and he earned second team All-Northeast Conference honors at the conclusion of the season.
Ranglin began his professional career with the Manchester Wolves of the now-defunct af2--the Arena Football League's former developmental league. After two seasons with the Wolves, Ranglin made the jump to the AFL in 2010 with the Milwaukee Iron--now known as the Milwaukee Mustangs--and was part of an offensive line that allowed just one sack all season long. The Mustangs led the league in several offensive categories that year and advanced to the National Conference championship game.
Kansas City is familiar territory for Ranglin, as he spent his 2011 season with the AFL's Kansas City Command. He proved both durable and talented, as he was one of the few offensive linemen to start each of the Command's 18 regular season games, and he was named first team All-Arena and the Arena Football League's Offensive Lineman of the Year. He also caught four passes for 67 yards, adding another threat for a team that averaged over 300 yards of offense per game on the AFL's 50-yard field.
Ranglin signed with the AFL's San Jose SaberCats for the 2012 season and has played an important role in the 'Cats leading the league in total offense per game. Again, he has shown his versatility as a receiver, too, catching four passes for 48 yards in nine games this season.
"We are very happy for Rich that he has earned this opportunity," said SaberCats owner and head coach Darren Arbet through a press release. "He has done so well for us on the offensive line, and I believe he has the ability to succeed in the National Football League."
After finishing a dismal 7-11 in 2011, San Jose currently boasts a 7-2 record and is the No. 1 team in the league, according to the AFL's coaches. Meanwhile, without Ranglin, the Command's offense has plummeted to a league-worst 241.5 yards per game, and Kansas City quarterbacks have been sacked 14 times in eight games. The Command are currently 0-8 on the season.
The Arena Football League has already provided the NFL with several players over the years, including offensive linemen. Cliff Louis of the Arizona Cardinals played for the AFL's Cleveland Gladiators in 2011, and Martin Parker of the Super Bowl champion New York Giants played for the AFL's Chicago Rush last season.
The author is a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network and frequently contributes to Yahoo! Sports' coverage of the Arena Football League. You can follow him on Twitter at @RedZoneWriting and on Facebook.
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