On Thursday, the Kansas City Chiefs introduced their new tackle Jawaan Taylor — with whom they agreed to a four-year contract as the NFL’s “legal tampering” began on Monday.
Having primarily played right tackle for the Jacksonville Jaguars during his first four seasons, the $80 million contract he was given initially appeared excessive. But soon, it began to leak out that the Chiefs planned to transition Taylor to left tackle to replace Orlando Brown Jr. — who agreed to terms with the Cincinnati Bengals on Wednesday.
Taylor addressed the position change in his introductory remarks to reporters.
“I was definitely told about the left tackle position,” he confirmed. “I feel like I’m definitely athletic enough to make the switchover. I’m very versatile, so I feel like I can go out and make the switch pretty seamless. But at the end of the day, if they need me to switch over and play other positions, I’m open to doing that. I’m just here to help this team win championships.”
He does not anticipate issues with the potential move — especially given the reputation of the Chiefs’ coaching staff.
“Left tackle, right tackle — just a flip of the hips, honestly,” Taylor claimed. “Other than that, if you’re athletic enough and you trust your feet and you’ve got great coaching as well — [and] I know that’s here — I feel like that transition will be pretty good.”
Taylor’s primary experience at left tackle came in 2017, when he was still a member of the Florida Gators. Though now years removed from that time, he is happy to have another path to the position.
“It was fun,” the 25-year-old recalled. “At the time, we had a couple of injuries on the team, and we had to move guys around on the line. They trusted me to go over there and play left tackle for the last two games of the season. Now I have an opportunity play it again. I’m very excited for it — and I’m embracing the opportunity.
“So I’m just getting ready to go. I should be ready to go by the time that we report back.”
Even among offensive line experts, the degree of difficulty in changing sides is subject to debate. Taylor recognizes that Kansas City has recent experience with the task before him.
Brown was primarily a right tackle with the Baltimore Ravens before moving to the left side as an injury replacement in 2020. During his two seasons in Kansas City, he saw his switch to left tackle become permanent. Brown was named to the Pro Bowl twice as a Chief, and he helped the team win Super Bowl LVII last month.
Taylor sees Brown’s success as motivation as he begins his own transition.
“He’s a great player — with great feet as well,” Taylor said of Brown. “[A] very long [and] very versatile guy. Seeing guys like that being able to transition over is amazing to see. It gives me a lot of courage — and hope that I can do it, too.”
Familiarity with the offense is another reason to believe Taylor’s move to left tackle will be a success. In his final season in Jacksonville, he played for head coach Doug Pederson — a protégé of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid and a former offensive coordinator in Kansas City.
While he agreed that the offensive systems are similar, Taylor explained that the situation and talent around him — namely quarterback Patrick Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce — played a bigger role in his decision to come to Kansas City.
“They have similarities,” he agreed. “Learning an offense is nothing new to me — I’ve learned a new offense every year since I’ve been in the NFL. That was the least of my worries. The reason I chose [the Chiefs] was I just felt it was a great opportunity.
“A chance to play under coach Andy Reid — and play with great players like Mahomes and Kelce and other guys that’s on the team... I just wanted to embrace change. I’ve never lived outside of Florida ever in my life. I had an opportunity to come and try something new and be on a great organization. I was all for it.”
It’s one thing to want to play with the league’s best quarterback. Other offensive linemen, however, have learned that blocking for the face of the league comes with heightened pressure — and because the NFL MVP likes to improvise and extend plays, he is sometimes more difficult to protect.
Taylor appears to be ready for that challenge.
“I don’t feel like it affects my job at all, honestly,” he said of Mahomes’ unpredictability. “If I have to hold my block longer, I have to do that. At the end of the day, I know he can use his feet, too.
“So if he needs to go out and create a play with his feet, he can do that. I’m excited to be able to play with a guy of his caliber — and go out there and keep him upright.
“I’m definitely excited.”