Before the 2023 NFL Draft held at Kansas City’s Union Station over the weekend, Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach had indicated that whether free-agent acquisition Jawaan Taylor would play left tackle or right tackle could hinge on whether the team acquired a left tackle in the draft.
“I think it wasn’t a secret that once free agency started, a tackle was at the top of [our] list — and I think we have great flexibility with him, Veach said of Taylor on April 20. “He certainly wants the opportunity to play left — but if we were to draft a left tackle, we know what Jawaan tape looks like at right tackle there — so excited to get him.”
Then in the third round of the draft, Veach selected Oklahoma offensive tackle Wanya Morris with the 92nd pick. But speaking to reporters on a Monday Zoom call, Veach stopped a little short of absolutely identifying Taylor as the team’s left tackle.
“I think there’ll be a degree of mixing and matching,” the GM said of the offensive line. “I’m sure it’s safe to say that as we sit here today, Taylor will be able to go out there and [play] left tackle with the [first team].”
But that was as far as he would go because the team still has tackle Lucas Niang as a contender at tackle — and 2022 draft pick Darian Kinnard is also still in the mix.
“Then I think we’ll have good competition between Niang [and] Wanya — and then I think Kinnard has some flexibility, too,” Veach continued. “So I think all three of those guys will bounce in there. Kinnard will go back and forth to tackle and guard — and I think Wanya has some tackle guard-flex.
“So I think you’ll see (offensive line) coach [Andy] Heck do a great job of just mixing and matching. Then we get [to] training camp, [where we’ll] just let the competition speak for itself.”
Veach failed to mention another player likely to compete at tackle: Prince Tega Wanogho, who (unlike Kinnard) played in every one of Kansas City’s 2022 games. Reported to be an Exclusive Rights Free Agent (ERFA) coming into 2023, he could have been locked into the coming season with a contract offer for an NFL-minimum salary. But the Chiefs paid him a $400,000 signing bonus and agreed to a per-game roster bonus that could pay him up to $500,000 more.
Even though its three interior positions (with left guard Joe Thuney, center Creed Humphrey and right guard Trey Smith) are now rock-solid, it once again promises to be an interesting offseason for the offensive line.