FanPost

Against 49ers, Prince Tega Wanogho made his case to make the Chiefs

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

From the FanPosts -- JD

The Kansas City Chiefs' first preseason game on Saturday night came with a lot of questions (and intrigue) from Chiefs fans.

Everyone wanted to see how big free agent signing Joe Thuney and trade target Orlando Brown Jr. looked in a new scheme with three de facto rookies who hadn't played a single NFL snap: Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith and Lucas Niang. After watching the league's best player scramble for his life in the Super Bowl, this has Kansas City fans' biggest concern.

But Chiefs fans should also remember that the Super Bowl offensive line was mostly backups -- or players playing out of position. In the biggest game of the year, the depth was tested -- and it came up short.

So it’s not just the starters -- who got 11 snaps together protecting both Patrick Mahomes and Chad Henne -- about whom we should be concerned. On Saturday night, the depth and backups for each offensive line position were also tested. And the second team's biggest winner may have been Prince Tega Wanogho.

If you don’t know that name, it's okay. Only 23 years old, Wanogho is an athletic second-year player out of Auburn. Drafted in 2020's sixth round by the Philadelphia Eagles, he wasn't able to break through to the Eagles' active roster -- even though they also had a banged-up offensive line. Chiefs general manager Brett Veach grabbed him with a futures contract on January 26.

Measuring in at 6-feet-5 and 308 pounds (with 33½ inch arms), Wanogho originally moved to the United States from Nigeria to play basketball. He is a raw prospect. He’s only been playing football since his senior year of high school -- and at Auburn, played in just 32 games as the starter at left tackle.

Talent is not the concern. Most draft evaluators had him in their top 100 -- a Day 2 prospect. Medical concerns -- injuries in both legs, including a knee issue and a broken leg -- made him drop to late in Day 3.

With Mike Remmers out with an injury in training camp, Niang began playing with the first team at right tackle. That allowed Wanogho to move up and become the second-team left tackle.

On Saturday night, Wanogho played 36 snaps with the second team. PFF scored his performance at 85.8 -- the highest grade for any Chiefs offensive player in the game. And this was in his very first NFL action -- following last season with no preseason games and no regular-season snaps.

In his first action, his inexperience sometimes showed. On one play, he missed a reach block that held Darrell Williams to only a short gain. On another snap, he missed punches that allowed an EDGE to swipe his hands away, forcing Wanogho to recover -- where he did a good job.

But there were some really promising signs, too.

There were many pass plays where Wanogho was looking for work and helping both the guard to his right or the tight end. On the second drive, he had good sets that allowed him some space to time his punch well against speed rushes. He also had a nice double-team in which he drove the defenders back, helping to convert a first down.

His biggest highlight might have been around the 7:45 mark in the second quarter. In that play, he pancaked the defensive tackle and then moved to the second level to land a nice punch on an incoming linebacker. In this drive, he showed really nice mirroring skills, constantly battling on each snap. On runs that required him to pull, he displayed good athleticism, showing that he’s comfortable in space -- although I’d like to see him engage a defender and lock him up more often.

In his last play of the game, he ended by standing over the EDGE -- finishing his debut with the statement that he needs to be considered for this team.

Re-watching the second-team offensive line from Saturday night, I had flashbacks of the Super Bowl. The interior was often on its heels; some linemen were looking around for guys to block after being beaten. But that wasn’t the case for Wanogho. After the starters went out, he was clearly the best offensive lineman -- with only a few missed blocks where he was over-reaching.

As you know, Veach and the front office made it a point to overhaul the offensive line in the offseason; some offensive linemen who played in the Super Bowl are now fighting for roster spots. But where the Chiefs are thin is behind left tackle. Fans remember Remmers there in the championship game, most don’t have the appetite to see Andrew Wylie move to the left side and Niang looks to be in a starter battle at right tackle. So when it comes to the 53-man roster, Wanogho may currently be on the outside looking in -- but he projects as a toolsy prospect who moved great on Saturday night, helping his his case to become a great reserve option behind Orlando Brown.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.