The Kansas City Chiefs selected OT, Lucas Niang, out of TCU in the 3rd round of the NFL Draft. How does he fit in with the team’s offensive front?
Lucas Niang might have been a surprise pick to some folks. After all, why would the Kansas City Chiefs select an offensive tackle in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft when cornerback was seemingly still the biggest position of need? Well, as it turns out there are multiple reasons, and most of them revolve around keeping quarterback Patrick Mahomes healthy.
First, Niang was a three-year starter at TCU and while he may not have some of the elite top-end talent like a Mehki Becton, Jedrick Wills, or Tristan Wirfs, he was able to not give up more than a single sack in those three years. When the second overall pick in Chase Young says his toughest opponent to face was Niang, that bodes well for the future.
I do believe Niang will be a potential right tackle in the NFL, but with Mitchell Schwartz still at the top of his game, I expect to see Niang get some snaps on the interior. I actually expect him to fill the Cam Erving role as a swing tackle and someone who can step in if there is an injury. The Chiefs saw last year what can happen if you aren’t prepared on the offensive line, and they want to keep Mahomes as upright as possible.
Let’s look at the tape.
Strengths: Size, physical tools, and potential
Niang is a massive man who stands 6’6 and weighing 315 pounds. His size is that of Cameron Erving although we can hope with less pressures allowed. He doesn’t have the greatest technique, but he got away with it with natural ability and size. Having NFL-caliber coaching can vastly improve his technique to get the most out of his natural abilities.
Looking at his highlights above, it really shows how much he can bring into the run game. Being able to get inside and out to move guys while showing tremendous quickness for a man of his size is very promising. Seeing him pull is also a good sign at that size that he is agile enough laterally while still being able to be a mauler in the run game.
Niang’s recovery is very impressive. Even if he gets beat or has a false step, he still has the ability to recover and not give up a sack. That is someone who wants to keep his QB clean and upright and will do whatever it takes. That is the exact guy you want when you have Mahomes in the pocket.
Weaknesses: Footwork and technique
For a man of his size, there is typically going to be some footwork issues and Niang is no different. He tends to have a false step and will occasionally have his hips open too soon. Looking at his game against Ohio State, he holds his own even with some of these minor issues.
Here he is able to neutralize Chase Young which is extremely impressive. He does this by taking a good first step and anticipating Young’s next move. Even with the occasional false step, he is able to readjust and use his body to wall off defenders and give the QB time.
I watched the entire game against Ohio State, which some experts have said was his worst performance. If that is him at his worst, he is going to be an absolute stud in the NFL. The more I watch his tape, the more bullish I become on him.
The best part about his weaknesses are that they all things he can work on. Having the best RT in football in Schwartz can only help him grow. You can’t teach his size, motor, or lateral quickness which can make him into a very valuable tackle in the NFL.
Lucas Niang has the size, quickness, and attitude to thrive as a tackle in the NFL. While he may be on the sidelines (or along the interior) for most of this season, having Fisher and Schwartz to learn from will greatly improve his development.
With both Fisher and Schwartz over 29, it makes some sense to bring in a guy who could be the potential heir to protecting Patrick Mahomes. Even if both tackles are around a while longer, Chiefs fans saw what happened when one of them goes down. Erving wasn’t the answer and general manager Brett Veach addressed that with this move.
Never sexy taking a lineman, especially one who will be a backup, in the 3rd round but this move shows that they know the value of keeping Patrick healthy. I absolutely love this selection and believe Niang will be a starting tackle on the Chiefs sometime during his career.