Analyst Predicts Chiefs Rookie Will Supplant 9-Game Starter on O-Line

Getty Oklahoma offensive tackle Wayna Morris.

Now that the Kansas City Chiefs 2023 draft class is set in stone, analysts are taking a stab at which roles those rookies could fill during the 2023 season.

For Arrowhead Pride’s Nate Christensen, he took a look at the starting right tackle job in Kansas City and believes rookie third-round pick Wanya Morris will be the starter come September.

“Morris’ selection suggests Kansas City is now committed to new free-agent Jawaan Taylor at left tackle,” Christensen wrote on April 30. “On the right, we should expect an open competition between Morris, Lucas Niang, Prince Tega Wanogho and Darian Kinnard. As offseason activities begin, it’s likely that Niang will be the starter — but ultimately, Morris will probably win the job. He has all the athleticism and length that is needed. He just needs to clean up his punch and hand placement. If Morris can clean up those things, he’ll be an average right tackle in his rookie year — which would be a huge win for the Chiefs.”

Chiefs Have Competition at Right Tackle

Prior to the draft, the Chiefs were already projected to have a competition for the starting right tackle job once the 2023 NFL season was officially underway. But now that they’ve added Wanya Morris to the equation, the competition has been ramped up a notch.

As it stands, 2020 third-round pick Lucas Niang is the penciled-in starter at right tackle in the wake of Andrew Wylie joining the Washington Commanders. But the Chiefs are “excited” about Darrian Kinnard’s development during his rookie season and expect Prince Tega Wangho to be in the mix as a potential starter as well. That means Morris will have to impress the coaching staff enough during the offseason programs, training camp, and the preseason to be named the Week 1 starter at right tackle.

After transferring from Tennessee to Oklahoma prior to the 2021 season, Morris was a reserve lineman during the 2021 season and became Oklahoma’s starting right tackle in 2022. He did suffer a shoulder injury during the 2022 season, however, which sidelined him for three games. He also opted out of the Cheez-It Bowl.

Morris was named second-team All-Big 12 for his efforts during the 2022 season.

Brett Veach Has ‘A Lot of Hopes’ for Lucas Niang

Brett Veach did speak glowingly of Darian Kinnard as he enters Year 2 in the NFL. But during the same press conference, Veach also spoke very highly of Lucas Niang, who is deservingly in the driver’s seat for the Chiefs’ starting right tackle job this offseason.

“We have a lot of hopes for Lucas (Niang),” Veach said on April 20. “And you know, he was the guy that actually won that starting right tackle position, then he got hurt. It’s been a little bit of an uphill battle. Um, he had a pretty bad injury there. But he has worked phenomenally to get in shape. And Rick (Burkholder) and his staff have done a great job of continuing to get him in the right positions to go out there and be productive.”

Prior to tearing his patellar tendon in Week 17 of the 2021 season, which sidelined him until Week 12 of the 2022 season, Niang had started in nine regular season games for the Chiefs. But the problem that has existed with Niang dating back to his college days is his ability to stay healthy.

Since opting out of his rookie season due to concerns stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic, Niang has missed a total of 15 games over the last two seasons due to injury. That signals durability concerns for the third-year offensive tackle, which is why he is not a lock to become a 2023 starter for the Chiefs and puts Kinnard, Morris, and Wanogho very much in play to win the starting right tackle job.

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