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The Kansas City Chiefs completely re-tooled their offensive line this past offseason, adding a total of 10 players (including returning 2020 opt-outs) who were not with the organization last year in preparation for the 2021 campaign.
Four of those new players can be identified primarily as offensive tackles heading into training camp, joining one returning player (Mike Remmers) to round out the Chiefs’ group of tackles up in St. Joseph.
Now, it’s worth mentioning that versatility is a defining characteristic of this offensive line as a whole and many of the players (both mentioned and not mentioned in this piece) can play all over the place up front. For example, Remmers has experience at guard and 2020 third-round pick Lucas Niang, listed as a tackle here, was discussed as a potential guard last season before opting out of the campaign. Conversely, some players who aren’t listed here (such as Kyle Long and Andrew Wylie) have played tackle at the professional level.
That versatility is invaluable and it’s quite likely that one of the players not mentioned below will line up as a tackle at some point during the 2021 season, but for the purpose of this article, we’re going to take a look at five players who have primarily lined up at tackle recently heading into camp.
Orlando Brown Jr.
The Chiefs completed one of the biggest trades of the offseason by trading for Brown, who’s already established himself as one of the top offensive tackles in the NFL during his young career.
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Originally a third-round pick back in 2018, Brown took over as Baltimore’s starting right tackle midway through his rookie campaign – starting the Ravens’ final 10 games on the right side – and remained there through the 2019 season, where he started all 16 games. Brown continued in that role to begin the 2020 season, but an injury to All-Pro left tackle Ronnie Stanley provided Brown with an opportunity to show what he could do on the blindside.
He took that chance and ran with it, starting the Ravens’ final nine games at left tackle while establishing himself as one of the league’s top players at the position. From Week 9 through the end of the regular season, Brown didn’t allow a single sack or quarterback hit. In fact, he’s allowed a grand total of just six sacks in 48 career games.
Still just 25 years old, Brown is a budding star who will serve as one of the anchors up front.
The lone returning member of this group from last season, Remmers logged one start at each guard spot in 2020 before taking over as the Chiefs’ primary right tackle in Week 7 in lieu of the injured Mitchell Schwartz. He performed well, too, yielding just two quarterback hits and zero sacks in that span.
A versatile player who has extensive experience at every position up front other than center, Remmers will compete for the starting right tackle job in camp.
A third-round selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, many of the experts considered Niang to be a potential steal at pick No. 96. The 6-foot-7, 328-pound Niang started 27 games during his three-year career at TCU, and despite facing some formidable opponents such as future first-round picks Chase Young and Nick Bosa, he didn’t allow a sack during his final three years on campus – a stretch of nearly 1,000 pass-blocking snaps. He suffered a hip injury in 2019 that ended his season early, but had he been healthy, several draft analysts predicted at the time that Niang likely would have been drafted much earlier.
Niang chose to opt out of his rookie season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but he’s now back with the Chiefs and ready to build on his immense potential.
Prince Tega Wanogho
A fascinating story, Tega Wanogho grew up in Nigeria and was a standout basketball player in high school after coming to the United States. According to draft analyst Lance Zierlein, Tega Wanogho only started playing football to remain in shape. Remarkably, he showed a real knack for the game despite his limited experience and caught the attention of Auburn, where Tega Wanogho went on to start 32 games and earn multiple all-conference selections.
Zierlein projected Tega Wanogho as a potential third or fourth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but he fell to the sixth round where Philadelphia selected him with the No. 210 overall choice. The 6-foot-5, 309-pound Tega Wanogho went on to spend the majority of the season on the Eagles’ practice squad, appearing in one game (Week 17) before signing with the Chiefs’ practice squad in January.
Originally an undrafted free agent signee with the New York Jets in 2019, Miller has also spent time with the Bengals, Cowboys and Seahawks during his young professional career. The majority of that time was spent on practice squads of those respective teams, as Miller has yet to appear in a regular season game.
The 6-foot-5, 302-pound Miller signed with the Chiefs on June 13.
The Bottom Line
The duo of Eric Fisher (left) and Mitchell Schwartz (right) manned the Chiefs’ starting tackle positions for the bulk of five seasons – forming one of the top tandems in the NFL during that time – but it’s the beginning of a new era now, and the talent in Kansas City’s tackle group is certainly worth being excited about.
Brown, in particular, is a foundational player who the Chiefs can build their offensive line around moving forward. Niang, too, is a young player with a ton of potential who will finally have a chance to show what he can do during this year’s camp. Remmers provides a steady, veteran presence and in Tega Wanogho and Miller, Kansas City features two additional young, developmental players on the roster.
Depth is the name of the game in the NFL – especially in the trenches – and that’s exactly what the Chiefs are looking to create with the new additions to this season’s group of tackles.