Recent Chiefs Third Rounder ‘Certainly No Lock’ to Make Roster: Analyst

Analyst says Chiefs OT Lucas Niang is "certainly no lock" to make Week 1 roster.

Getty Will the Kansas City Chiefs cut ties with former third-round offensive tackle Lucas Niang in 2024?

Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach has put together an impressive resume in the NFL draft in recent years, but one of his selections is reaching the end of his rookie contract in 2024 — and it’s unclear if he’ll survive training camp.

“Where does this fourth-year player fit?” Arrowhead Pride analyst Matt Stagner pointed out after listing 2020 third rounder Lucas Niang as a Chiefs player whose stock is down heading into summer activities.

Jawaan Taylor is entrenched at right tackle,” the writer reasoned. Continuing: “On the left side, we expect a competition between second-year player Wanya Morris and second-round rookie Kingsley Suamataia. There’s also undrafted free agent Ethan Driskell, who was almost selected in the draft.”

“If the team decides more stability is needed, they’ve already hinted that Donovan Smith could return, too,” Stagner added. Concluding: “It feels like Niang is the forgotten man; as things stand, he’s certainly no lock to make the roster.”

Lucas Niang’s Development Was Stalled by 2021 Knee Injury

After opting out of the 2020 season due to the pandemic, the third-round offensive tackle has struggled to find his footing at the professional level. Niang started nine games as a rookie in 2021 before his campaign ended in a torn patellar tendon.

He has not started a regular season outing since, appearing in 10 games in 2022 (including the playoffs) and another 18 in 2023. Although those opportunities were mostly on special teams.

It’s fair to wonder if the knee injury — coupled with the decision to opt out in 2020 — squandered Niang’s brief window as a viable starting option in Kansas City.

After the youngster’s knee surgery, the coaching staff committed to a veteran staff favorite in Andrew Wylie on the righthand side for the 2022 campaign. The following offseason, the Chiefs spent big money on Taylor. And then they invested premium draft capital in Morris and Suamataia on top of that.

In other words, since the end of the 2021 season, any chance of Niang logging major offensive snaps has been dependent on injury — and KC has been exceedingly healthy at this position the past couple of years.

Could Chiefs Shop Lucas Niang via Trade?

Given how important the offensive tackle position is viewed around the league, it’s possible that Kansas City could shop Niang this summer if they feel he’s unlikely to make the team.

The 6-foot-6 blocker has traits that another coaching staff might want to try their hand at developing. After all, there’s a reason he was drafted in round three.

As it stands, the Chiefs have a collection of rookies and second-year prospects on the roster at offensive tackle alongside Taylor and Niang. The candidates include Morris, Suamataia, international prospect Chukwuebuka Godrick and 2024 UDFAs Driskell and Griffin McDowell.

If no one emerges from this group, KC could elect to keep Niang as the primary backup at right tackle and ride out his contract. However, if Godrick or an undrafted prospect develops — or the Chiefs decide to sign a veteran like Smith — there might not be enough space on the roster for a fifth offensive tackle.

And based on contract years, there’s no way Kansas City parts ways with Morris or Suamataia before Niang. At that point, it might make sense to see if anyone is willing to give a late-round draft pick for the former third rounder ahead of the 53-man roster cutdown.

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