Chiefs 2020 Draft Pick ‘Could Lose Job’ After Recent Additions

Andy Reid

Getty Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has some big decisions to make in 2023.

If you rewind the clocks back before the 2023 NFL Draft, most assumed that the Kansas City Chiefs would start 2020 third rounder Lucas Niang at right tackle — barring a first- or second-round rookie selection at the position.

In the draft, the Chiefs decided to pass on O-tackle until round three, where they drafted some competition for Niang in Oklahoma blocker Wanya Morris. The reinforcements didn’t end there, however, as KC general manager Brett Veach eventually signed veteran left tackle Donovan Smith with a plan to move fellow newcomer Jawaan Taylor back to the righthand side.

Just like that, Niang went from a potential starter to an afterthought with Smith and Taylor taking over as the full-time starters and Morris slotting in as the likely swing tackle behind them. Because of all that, USA Today Chiefs Wire media member Charles Goldman labeled Niang as a “veteran who could lose [his] job to a rookie.”

Chiefs Analyst Says Lucas Niang Could Be ‘Competing’ for Swing Tackle Role

After listing Niang during his article, Goldman explained the selection.

“Ideally, third-round pick Wanya Morris will play his way into a starting role in 2023,” he wrote. “Given what we’ve been told about Donovan Smith, I think it’s more likely that Morris will find himself competing with Lucas Niang for the role of swing tackle in Kansas City.”

Goldman went on: “Niang and Morris are both third-round picks, but the former has been anything but reliable during his career. The former 2020 draft pick has appeared in just 19 games with nine starts over three seasons with the team due to opt-out and injury.”

Going one step further, with Prince Tega Wanogho, Darian Kinnard and recent pickup Sebastian Gutierrez also in the mix at offensive tackle, Niang could be fighting for a roster spot in 2023 — let alone a top-three role.

Chiefs’ Lucas Niang Has Not Panned Out Since 2020 Draft

It’s been an odd few seasons for Niang in Kansas City. After choosing to sit out his rookie campaign amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the TCU product started nine games in 2021 — with mixed results.

Pro Football Focus gave Niang a positive run-blocking grade (70.0), but his pass protection left a lot to be desired in year one on the field. By the end of his 2021 season, he finished with 26 QB pressures allowed and three penalties, but only two charged sacks.

With some more schooling and development, it appeared the Chiefs had something in Niang at the time. Then the knee injury occurred — a brutal ruptured patellar tendon.

The injury opened the door for veteran Andrew Wylie in 2022, who never looked back once claiming the right tackle job. Later, upon Niang’s return amid a Super Bowl run, he wasn’t asked to start, appearing in seven games on special teams with just nine snaps on offense.

During that brief action, he allowed one QB pressure on two pass-blocking snaps and didn’t inspire much confidence over a healthy Wylie or a more reliable backup like Wanogho. That begs the question: Where does Niang fit in now?

Chiefs Draft Pick Joshua Kaindoh Could Be Cut in 2023

During the same article, Goldman named a second recent draft pick that he expects to be on the hot seat this summer: DE Joshua Kaindoh.

“Kaindoh has done virtually nothing since entering the league as a fourth-round pick in 2021,” he reasoned. “He’s appeared in just three games with the Chiefs and has recorded no official statistics.”

Continuing: “Last season, he was a healthy scratch in all 17 regular season games and three postseason games. With the Chiefs making a first-round investment in Felix Anudike-Uzomah, plus a fifth-round selection of BJ Thompson (who is a clear favorite of DL coach Joe Cullen), the writing is on the wall.”

“Kaindoh needs to prove himself this offseason or he could find himself off the 53-man roster sooner than on gridiron,” Goldman concluded.

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