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Expect Chiefs rookie Nick Allegretti to compete for team’s starting center position

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The Chiefs see the seventh-rounder as a potential starter.

Illinois v Nebraska Photo by Steven Branscombe/Getty Images

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid is working the team’s 2019 seventh-round pick, interior offensive lineman Nick Allegretti, at center during rookie minicamp.

Allegretti, 23, stands at 6 feet 4 and 320 pounds, and as Reid described Saturday, is “dirty tough.”

“I love playing football,” Allegretti said when asked about Reid’s compliment. “I think there is a way you’re supposed to play football, a way you’re supposed to play O-line—physical. You want to put people on the ground, and that’s just how I was coached, how I was brought up, so I think that’s what he sees and that’s what he’ll continue to see.”

After being picked by the Chiefs, Allegretti explained that he is a “different guy” in that he likes things like puzzles and Rubik’s cubes and is a coin collector. Allegretti said he did a puzzle in an attempt to distract himself on day three of the NFL Draft, and Reid mentioned Allegretti scored high on the pre-draft Wonderlic test.

He comes off as mild-mannered and friendly, but that changes as soon as he steps on the football field.

“My biggest thing—my coach actually at Illinois, Luke Butkus, taught me is that the guy across from you, especially in this league is trying to take your job,” Allegretti said. “[He’s] trying to take my dream away from me, what I’ve worked for my whole life, so just kind of take that as an insult and use that as energy.”

Chiefs general manager Brett Veach has said that he believes Allegretti will compete for a starting spot on the offensive line.

“He had a chance to go to the East-West (Shrine) game and he actually played guard and center there,” Veach said. “His center tape was really what kind of caught our eye. You guys know how we feel about guys who have versatility. This is a guy that played guard in the Big Ten, did a really good job. Goes to the East-West game, plays guard, plays a little center and then all of the sudden you watch the East-West game and watch him log game snaps at center, and he looked really good at doing that.”

“I was always our backup center,” Allegretti, who started 20 games at guard over his last two years at Illinois, said. “Played six or seven games (at center) in college and then was the number two (center) all four years.”

With Mitch Morse leaving in free agency for the Buffalo Bills, the center position battle is one to watch this offseason and training camp. It’s worth noting Morse started 15 games at center for the Chiefs as a rookie.

Fourth-year offensive lineman Austin Reiter, who started four games at center for the Chiefs last year when Morse was out, will get first consideration, but Allegretti and Jimmy Murray should provide real competition.

Chiefs area scout Terry Delp explained after the draft that a transition to center requires athletic ability, strong mental makeup, leadership skills and confidence. In Delp’s mind, Allegretti checked all the boxes.

“His intelligence, he’s a natural leader, he’s a leader of the O-line room, the guys gravitate toward him, so there’s no question there,” Delp said of Allegretti. “It was easy for me because you get to see him do it.”