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What the Chiefs signing Kelechi Osemele means for rookie Lucas Niang

There have been talks that Niang could play guard in 2020, but the Osemele signing gives the Chiefs time.

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On the Monday mailbag edition of the AP Laboratory, we had you covered on all things Kelechi Osemele. With the news of the veteran guard signing with the Chiefs, one clear winner in the news emerged — anyone wanting Lucas Niang to develop at offensive tackle.

The Chiefs very feasibly can give Niang a redshirt year and develop him at tackle with Osemele in the mix. He will likely man the left guard spot — leaving Martinas Rankin, Andrew Wylie and possibly Mike Remmers battling for an interior spot. Of all the players on the roster, however, Remmers seems like the first up as the swing tackle.

If that is the case, the Chiefs can maintain depth at all positions of the offensive line and afford Niang an opportunity to get 100% healthy, spend a year in an NFL weight room and develop technically under the tutelage of offensive line coach Andy Heck. The Chiefs have often operated with a “best five” mantra — the best five players play. Some speculated that the Chiefs will move Niang inside when Laurent Duvernay-Tardif opted out of the season. He’s certainly one of the more talented players in the offensive line room. After all, he is one of only three day one-or-two draft picks the Chiefs have invested in the offensive line in the Andy Reid era.

It gets trickier than simply moving a veteran like Remmers around when you’re dealing with a rookie. While Heck is known to cross-train his lineman so they can be moved around more easily, it could be a challenge to drop Niang to one of the guard positions — teach him footwork and then expect him to learn technique at an entirely different position next year. The contract of starting tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz are up at the end of the 2021 season. Fisher has a contract that the Chiefs can get out of easily next year. With a year to work, Niang could be ready to protect Patrick Mahomes’ blind side next season and save the Chiefs a significant amount of cap space — something they’ll need in light of the news of a potentially reduced salary cap in 2021.

Osemele is added insulation to the interior and could be enough that Niang can spend this year preparing himself for one of the most important jobs in football protecting the best player in the world. If the Chiefs can develop Niang and the team feels comfortable, they can manage a tough situation much more seamlessly.

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