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ESPN’s Louis Riddick has ‘his eye’ on Chiefs’ Darian Kinnard

This time last year, Riddick had the same eye on Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith.

NFL: Scouting Combine Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

We have noted on these pages before that when ESPN’s Louis Riddick speaks on the Kansas City Chiefs, we listen closely. The NFL analyst was the pro personnel director for the Philadelphia Eagles from 2010-12 — the same time a scout named Brett Veach was in the building.

Around this time last year, Riddick became the first to identify that then-rookie offensive linemen Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith might be starters. He was right about that — though he wasn’t so right about tight end Noah Gray... yet.

On Friday, Riddick tweeted a list of Day 2 and Day 3 players from the 2022 NFL Draft that he’s keeping “an eye on” — rookies that could be “major impact players by Year 3 or sooner.”

And on that list for the Chiefs was fifth-round offensive lineman Darian Kinnard.

In his first media opportunity after he was drafted, Kinnard seemed peeved that it took all 32 teams to the fifth round to select him. He compared his own situation to that of his new teammate Smith, who fell to last year’s sixth round. Despite many believing the Kentucky product would need to move to guard at the pro level, the Chiefs — including Veach and head coach Andy Reid — have insisted he will get a fair shake at right tackle.

That is a very good thing for Kinnard, as right tackle is the only potential opening along the offensive line in 2022. The projected lineup (left to right) is expected to be Orlando Brown Jr., Joe Thuney, Humphrey and Smith. Kinnard’s competition for the starting spot is veteran Andrew Wylie (and perhaps Lucas Niang, but my early expectation is he lands on the PUP list).

Reid had his first opportunity to see Kinnard at the Chiefs’ rookie minicamp earlier this month.

“I kind of liked him,” said Reid. “Yeah. Strong. He’s put together now. Long arms, big, thick, moves well. He looked competitive for what we were doing out here. I like what I saw there. He seems like a real sharp kid. Picked everything up very easy.”

It doesn’t seem like much, but knowing how the 20-plus-year head coach operates, Reid’s comments on Kinard are rather positive. Over the last four years, Wylie has accumulated 42 regular-season starts for the Chiefs, and he was named the 2018 Mack Lee Hill award-winner (team rookie of the year). I think it is possible he gets the first crack when voluntary OTAs open up next week, but I noted on a recent “Editors Show” podcast that my early read tells me Kinnard is probably a decent favorite to ultimately win the battle.

I’m not sure the Chiefs will genuinely have a No. 1 wide receiver — and we’re likely to see another running back-by-committee — so Wylie vs. Kinnard could be considered the most exciting position battle to watch.

We now know who Riddick favors in that battle.

Poll

Who wins the right tackle battle?

This poll is closed

  • 72%
    Darian Kinnard
    (2575 votes)
  • 13%
    Lucas Niang
    (462 votes)
  • 13%
    Andrew Wylie
    (475 votes)
  • 1%
    Someone else
    (37 votes)
3549 votes total Vote Now