When the Kansas City Chiefs selected former Illinois offensive lineman Nick Allegretti in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft, they knew they were getting a capable interior lineman. Allegretti had earned second-team All-Big 10 honors during his final college season — and PFF had graded him as one of the best pass-blocking offensive linemen in the 2019 class.
But behind a stable offensive line, Allegretti has only had offensive snaps when the play-calls required extra linemen. In the first 15 games of his career, he had never had more than three snaps — and only 12 in total.
But in back-to-back weeks, two starting offensive linemen — left guard Kelechi Osemele and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz — have gone out with injuries. In the second drive of the Week 6 game against the Buffalo Bills, Allegretti came into the starting lineup at left guard.
The team went onto bulldoze the Bills’ defense to the tune of 245 rushing yards. That dominance led to a 26-17 victory — and it was hard for Allegretti not to enjoy his first full-game NFL experience.
“It was a lot of fun,” Allegretti admitted to reporters on Friday. “Pretty appreciative to have some older guys next to me, helping me out, getting in there — but it was a blast. Football is a lot of fun and it had been a little bit since I’d been on the field, so it was definitely a good time getting out there.”
But it didn’t happen without some nerves.
“When I figured out (Mitchell Schwartz) was going to be out for the game, it was a little bit of stress — butterflies — in the beginning,” said Allegretti. “To be honest, I kind of went blank for a little bit, warmed up, didn’t really think about much and then just got the opportunity to go have a lot of fun.”
With few repetitions against opposing defenses, Allegretti has only been facing his teammates across the line of scrimmage. He believes that’s helped with his development.
“The defensive line that we have here is an incredibly talented group,” remarked Allegretti. “Being able to go up against them day in and day out at practice and competing with them — (defensive tackles) Chris (Jones) and Derrick Nnadi are incredible players. To get those reps against them and slowly getting to have some success — or learn some things from them — has been huge.”
While Week 6 was his first extended playing time, Allegretti’s first offensive snaps were in Week 7 of 2019 — a 30-6 blowout of the Denver Broncos. That night, he pancaked a player on one of his two snaps. One reporter asked him about his ability to finish blocks.
“My first snap up in Denver, that was definitely a good time,” said Allegretti. “Just kind of the way I was raised growing up playing football — if you’re going to make a mistake, make it flying around — make it fast, make it physical. So, mistakes are going to happen throughout a football game; there’s a lot of snaps. The one thing I can control is my effort, my physicality, so that’s what I have. The rest — preparation and all that — comes as I continue to grow. But I know that I can play as hard as I want — or as hard as I can — and be as physical as I can, so that’s what I have.”
The attention on Allegretti won’t stop after Week 6; Chiefs head coach Andy Reid has confirmed that he will make the start at left guard for Week 7 against the Broncos.
It will be his first official NFL start. With cold temperatures and snow in the forecast, the running game could once again be a big factor in the Chiefs’ success. If Kansas City can control the line of scrimmage like they did against the Bills, it could soon be time to start considering Allegretti as a starter.