The offensive line is the biggest difference from last year’s roster and this year’s edition as the Kansas City Chiefs head into the postseason. It should be given how deteriorated the unit was at this point last year.
General manager Brett Veach made it a point to completely overhaul the unit in the offseason and give Patrick Mahomes an offensive line he could be proud of—one that could compare to the fronts other elite quarterbacks get to play behind.
Right tackle Lucas Niang was an investment the team had made in the 2020 NFL Draft but having opted out in 2020, he was looked at as part of the 2021 plan. Niang would end up winning the starting job and played quite well as a rookie in a division loaded with great pass-rushers but injuries were an issue. Niang missed time on separate occasions before ultimately tearing his patellar tendon in Week 17 against the Bengals.
How will KC Chiefs fare at RT without Niang in the postseason?
The eerie part about Niang getting hurt is that he actually sustained the injury filling in for Orlando Brown at LT when he got hurt in pregame warm-ups, so that would understandably give Chiefs fans some pause and remind them of how quickly things went downhill last season when they had to move guys around on the offensive line.
The good part, however, (depending on how you look at it) is that the Chiefs have been without Niang enough this season that they’ve gotten used to him not being around and can absorb his loss quite smoothly.
Typically, Mike Remmers would be the first man up at backup right tackle but he’s also on IR and there doesn’t seem to be any indication that he’ll be off any time soon. That’s why the Chiefs created this depth and hoarded offensive lineman in the offseason, though.
That leaves Andrew Wylie as the chosen one to take on the right tackle responsibilities. Wylie first stepped in earlier this season when Niang went down with a rib injury and Wylie definitely started out rough. To be fair to Wylie, one of his first assignments was to go against Dallas Cowboys rookie Micah Parsons and he’s given even elite tackles trouble. Since then, Wylie has actually settled in quite nicely and he hasn’t stuck out like a sore thumb which should earn a satisfactory label from Chiefs fans considering he is a 3rd string right tackle.
I would expect the Chiefs stick with Wylie in the playoffs unless something were to happen to him. Not really a ton of reason to go with anyone else. The playoffs are a different animal which could present some troubles for Wylie. He can’t be left on an island for an extended period of time going up against the league’s premiere pass-rushers or you could get some Super Bowl-esque results. Chips and extra blocking from a TE will be key as well as getting the ball out quickly.
Some have wondered about Kyle Long, as well as myself. I believe he’s in the two-deep at RT, but he was activated so late in the season and is such an unknown variable that I’m willing to bet the Chiefs stick with Wylie. Long may have a higher ceiling than Wylie but unless he turns into a revolving door in the playoffs, there’s just no justification for throwing out something completely new at such a critical time.