KC Chiefs: Is Lucas Niang the future at right tackle?

Lucas Niang #67 of the Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
Lucas Niang #67 of the Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /

The Kansas City Chiefs spent last offseason completely building their offensive line. They cut long time veterans, and trade for Orlando Brown, signed Joe Thuney, and drafted Trey Smith and Creed Humphrey. The only position they didn’t directly address was right tackle. This was because they had 2020 third round pick Lucas Niang.

Niang has had an interesting start to his career. After being drafted in 2020, he ended up opting out of his rookie season under the NFL’s COVID-19 policy. It’s possible that the Chiefs had hoped Niang would be a possible starter his rookie year, and at the very least he would have been a serviceable backup when Mitchell Schwartz got hurt.

After the Chiefs drafted a start right tackle in the fifth round, Lucas Niang’s future is now up in the air. Is he the long term answer?

Coming into last season, Niang’s development from the outside seemed unclear, but as the line was slowly revamped and the season neared, it became clearer that he might be the weakest link on the reformed offensive line. That doesn’t necessarily mean that Niang played poorly. Sports Illustrated points out that he was ranked 12th in run blocking and was about average in pass blocking according to PFF. However, injuries really clouded the picture of what he could be.

Calling Niang the “weakest link” doesn’t even quite seem fair, as it’s more a reflection on the rest of the link than him. But when Brett Veach set out to protect the half a billion dollar franchise quarterback, he meant business.

Which is why this year’s fifth round pick, Darian Kinnard, seems like a real warning signal to Niang that he either needs to up his game, or risk losing his spot altogether. Kinnard may be a “late round” pick, but he was considered one of the top offensive lineman in the SEC last year—even winning the Jacobs Blocking Trophy. His position? Right tackle.

Niang certainly has his work cut out for him if he wants to beat Kinnard for the RT spot. If nothing else, the training camp competition will probably be good for both players as they compete for the starting spot once anchored by Schwartz.

Ultimately, I don’t think Niang will be the long-term answer at right tackle, unless he just makes a very impressive jump this year. Which is a shame, because he’s definitely not a bad tackle. I suspect that at the end of training camp, both players will make the final 53, with Andy Reid just happy to have solid depth at the position.

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