Lucas Niang, remember him? It seems like he's been on the Kansas City Chiefs roster forever now, and yet you probably can't remember a single play that he's made. You wouldn't be alone. Writing this article, I'm trying to wrack my own brain. Nothing.
So what happened to this former third round pick that the Kansas City Chiefs seemingly had high hopes for?
Niang was originally drafted in 2020, just when the COVID-19 pandemic was kicking off. Despite being a rookie with the opportunity to prove himself, Niang shockingly opted out of his rookie season due to COVID-19 concerns.
I'm not one to judge motives or reasonings. All players who opted out had that right, and they all had their own personal reasons. But for a rookie, it seemed especially surprising to me that he would opt out. Third round picks are usually right on the line of the roster bubble. There was just so much risk in losing that first season.
The Kansas City Chiefs once had high hopes for tackle Lucas Niang. But now, he's on the verge of not even making the team.
But Niang did, and his career ever since then has really felt like he's been trying to "recover." During hnnis second season (counted officially as his first), he played in 12 games and started 9 at tackle. Keep in mind, this was the year that the Chiefs rebuilt the entire offensive line. Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith were drafted, and Joe Thuney was brought in.
This gave Niang the perfect opportunity to solidify himself as the team's long-term starter at right tackle. But it just never materialized. Part of that was because of a knee injury he sustained in week 17 of the 2021 season. He wasn't activated off injured reserve until almost a year later. At that point the Chiefs had already begun looking towards the future.
This offseason saw the team sign Jawaan Taylor, which seemed to spell doom for Niang because Taylor is naturally a right tackle. But then the team announced Taylor would swap to left tackle.
But then came Donovan Smith, a bonified left tackle that would send Taylor back to the right side. This relegated Lucas Niang to where it seemed like he was headed this whole time: to a backup role.
But he doesn't really have that locked down either. He's competing with rookie Wanya Morris and Prince Tega Wanogho for swing tackle. The Chiefs also have Jason Godrick on the roster, too. And Arrowhead Addicts own Scott Loring thinks Godrick might even make the roster over Niang.
Luckily for Niang, Morris and Wanogho are listed as left tackle backups, leaving Godrick as the immediate player for him to overcome. But it's no sure thing.
I always thought Niang had a lot of potential, and the fact that the Chiefs have kept him around this long meant they thought so too. But opting out of his rookie year really set him back, and then the injury in his second year has been so far my behind the 8-ball that he might not even make the roster now. At best, I think we'll see him a backup.