Hunter Nourzad has a clear template in front of him with Kansas City Chiefs

The late-round lineman would do well to follow the path set before him by Nick Allegretti.
Penn State v Maryland
Penn State v Maryland / G Fiume/GettyImages

The late-round lineman would do well to follow the path set before him by Nick Allegretti.

There is a fairly clear path ahead of Hunter Nourzad, one with footsteps heading away from Kansas City still fresh from the spring season. They were made by the big shoes of former Chiefs offensive lineman Nick Allegretti as he headed to Washington in free agency, and if Nourzad is smart, he'll do his best to follow that same path as he begins his NFL career.

Nourzad begins his professional football career this summer with his first taste of an Andy Reid training camp, and the expectations for his first overall season are fairly low. While any player will say they are hungry, Nourzad's been given a gift of a (mostly) guaranteed roster spot behind the NFL's most talented offensive interior. It's an opportune time to sit and learn as much as he can for that inevitable moment that he's called upon.

The Chiefs selected Nourzad earlier this year in the 2024 NFL Draft in the fifth round out of Penn State. Whether playing in the Ivy League with his original school of choice, Cornell, or in the Big Ten with the Nittany Lions, Nourzad was a strong and sometimes dominant starter who played full seasons at right tackle, left guard, and center.

Nourzad profiled as a powerful blocker with starting potential in the heart of the line, but those projections are for another season. Coming into a roster as deep as the Chiefs, the primary need up front for K.C. was found with the loss of Allegretti, and it's here that Nourzad can thrive as a dependable super sub—a tough player capable of stepping up at a moment's notice with proven versatility.

Let's not forget just how important Allegretti was for the Chiefs in the last few years. Nobody wants to see backups earning starts, because that means someone is injured, but such things are inevitable given the long NFL season. Allegretti started as many as 9 games in 2020, another 3 in 2022, and just last year he became a noted performer up front during the team's Super Bowl run. Before that was Andrew Wylie, who played a similar role in emergencies—short and long term.

This year, the cupboards are bare when searching for any veteran help. Mike Caliendo is the closest candidate and he's played 64 total snaps on offense. That means Nourzad has about as clear of a path forward to an obvious place of need as any day-three draft selection could hope for.

The chance to learn from Joe Thuney and Trey Smith and Creed Humphrey while learning behind the scenes without the pressure to perform early should serve as the ideal classroom for Nourzad to slowly turn the page from his college days to the professional level. If history is any indicator, he'll need the education because the starting line will come calling soon enough.