The Kansas City Chiefs are approaching their second of three preseason outings and each training camp battle is beginning to become more clear. As the finalists and frontrunners reveal themselves, the final roster takes shape.
One key summer competition has been at right tackle. With 2021 Week 1 starter Lucas Niang sidelined, the Chiefs left the starting job open-ended.
The long list of challengers included youngsters like Darian Kinnard and Prince Tega Wanogho, as well as recent free-agent signings like Geron Christian Sr. and Roderick Johnson (signed last January), but it’s been the veteran of the group that has stepped up so far in camp.
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Wylie Leads RT Battle
Arrowhead Pride’s Pete Sweeney has been dialed into just about every Chiefs practice this summer and he’s been monitoring the situation at right tackle.
Today on August 17, the beat reporter made a pretty strong statement in favor of Andrew Wylie, a four-year veteran of the Chiefs organization who began his career as an undrafted free agent with the Indianapolis Colts in 2017.
“Andrew Wylie continued to work at first-team right tackle,” informed Sweeney. “Every day it seems more and more likely he will hold on there. Once again, Prince Tega Wanogho with the second team and rookie Darian Kinnard with the third team.”
With Christian and Johnson getting most of their reps on the blindside, that’s left the less-experienced Kinnard and Wanogho to contend with Wylie. Right now, it appears head coach Andy Reid is perfectly fine trusting the devil he knows, rather than rushing a youngster into a starting role.
After all, the versatile Wylie has started at least seven games in every campaign he’s been with Kansas City. Although he began as a guard — playing both sides of the interior over the years — the 27-year-old blocker was called upon to hold down the right bookend last season with Niang and Mike Remmers injured.
He performed admirably in the run game according to Pro Football Focus (77.6 grade) but was less reliable in pass protection. Wylie allowed 29 quarterback pressures and four sacks over 328 pass-blocking snaps. That pass-block efficiency rating was the worst on the offensive line in 2021, at 94.6%.
For reference, Niang’s rating was 95.8% and Remmers’ was 97.4%. Left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. had a 97.2% efficiency in pass protection.
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Rookie Expectations May Fall Short
Many pegged the fifth-rounder, Kinnard, as the man to steal the RT job. Unfortunately, that has not happened so far in camp.
That’s not to say Kinnard has been bad, but the Chiefs would probably prefer to give him more time to develop with Wanogho getting second-team snaps ahead of him.
The experience is invaluable and Kinnard has been outmatched at times. A good example came against new defensive tackle Danny Shelton on August 16. The Athletic’s Nate Taylor detailed the training camp exchange:
Shelton’s best rep was one to marvel at. He absorbed three linemen — [Vitaliy] Gurman, guard David Steinmetz and rookie right tackle Darian Kinnard — without surrendering any ground, which led to Gore being tackled behind the line of scrimmage by defensive ends Azur Kamara and Joshua Kaindoh.
For now, the coaching staff will most likely stick with the game-ready veteran. KC Star reporter Herbie Teope agreed that Wylie has the “inside track” at the job, expect him to be protecting Patrick Mahomes’ frontside in Week 1.