The turnstiles at offensive tackle admit too many guests
,The Chiefs' 2023 offensive line outlook is, on paper, one of the better we've seen in recent memory. Of course the guard-center-guard battery of Trey Smith, Creed Humphrey, and Joe Thuney is one of the league's best. However, there will be new blood at the bookends of the Chiefs' offensive line with the offseason additions of offensive tackles Jawaan Taylor from the Jacksonville Jaguars and Donovan Smith from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The last time the Chiefs had questions at offensive tackle, Brett Veach responded by trading the Chiefs' 2021 first-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens for Orlando Brown, Jr. The trade paid off for the Chiefs in a lot of ways, as Brown protected Patrick Mahomes blindside for two seasons, including giving up zero sacks in Super Bowl LVII against an Eagles defense that was the league's best at getting to the passer. Andrew Wylie helped in this no-sack effort as well. Today, Wylie is employed by the Washington Commanders and Brown is now a member of the rival Cincinnati Bengals.
whereasMahomes'So out with the old, in with the new, right? Well, let's assess that. Protecting Mahomes blind side this year, apparently, will be Donovan Smith. Smith missed 4 games with injury last season, but still found a way to rank second in the league among tackles with 12 penalties accepted for 100 yards and ranked well below Brown and Wylie with a 78.3% pass block win rate. Possibly more troubling was Smith's lack of success in the run game. Smith won just 64.9% of the time in running downs, where Brown was a stalwart for a revamped Chiefs rushing attack a year ago.
I wish I could say a few different things about Jawaan Taylor, but unfortunately this story reads a lot like the tale of Donovan Smith. Taylor was 30th in the league in pass blocking among tackles in 2022, and had the league's worst run blocking grade among tackles per PFF.
Now, to say that all hope is lost with the offensive tackles heading into 2023 would be erroneous at best. A year ago, Orlando Brown, Jr ranked first in the NFL in pressures allowed at 58. Second place? Andrew Wylie at 54. Just because the tackles this season look potentially suspect on paper does not mean that it will play out that way on the field. Andy Heck is a renowned offensive line coach, Andy Reid cut his teeth in coaching that position, and the Chiefs have the vaunted G-C-G lineup that makes a tackle's job much easier. If they are, however, a weak link, the Chiefs' offense could sputter at times in 2023.