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A new Chiefs tackle (and an old one) will face a lot of pressure in 2023

A new CBS Sports article identifies Jawaan Taylor and Orlando Brown Jr. as among those with a lot to prove.

NFL: AFC Wild Card Round-Los Angeles Chargers at Jacksonville Jaguars Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday, CBS Sports writer Cody Benjamin identified 14 non-quarterbacks who will be under the most pressure during the upcoming NFL season. (This seems to presume that every quarterback faces a lot of pressure — which is probably a safe bet).

This unranked list includes two offensive coordinators — the New England Patriots’ Bill O’Brien and the Los Angeles Chargers’ Kellen Moore — four wide receivers (including new Baltimore Ravens wideout Odell Beckham Jr.) and four offensive tackles. Among those linemen is a player who just joined the Kansas City Chiefs — and another who just left.

Chiefs OT Jawaan Taylor

With Andy Reid on the sidelines and Patrick Mahomes under center, odds are Kansas City will be OK even if roadblocks present themselves. But only Eagles’ star Lane Johnson is due to make more at right tackle after Taylor netted a mega deal in free agency. At $20 million per year, he’d better be sterling — or else fans might wish the Chiefs just paid to retain Orlando Brown Jr. on the other side.

Bengals OT Orlando Brown Jr.

Speaking of Chiefs tackles, Brown left Kansas City for another title contender — and while the Cincinnati Bengals may have gotten him on a relative discount at $16 million per year, he’s still got a very important job: keeping Joe Burrow upright while commanding much more than incumbent left tackle Jonah Williams. Removed from the confines of Reid’s offense, can he live up to his deal?


Since Taylor’s acquisition from the Jacksonville Jaguars immediately followed Brown’s release — and preceded the signing of left tackle Donovan Smith by about six weeks — it wasn’t immediately clear that Taylor would remain on the right side of the line; many observers assumed that his four-year, $80 million contract meant he was destined to take Brown’s spot on the left.

In retrospect, it now appears that Kansas City may have always intended for Taylor to stay on the right side. General manager Brett Veach may have been hoping he could get a starting left tackle from the NFL Draft — but if that didn’t work out, a prove-it deal with Smith (who was signed just three days after the draft concluded) was also doable.

So just as former GM John Dorsey did by signing right tackle Mitchell Schwartz to a five-year deal in 2016 (which also placed him among the highest-paid right tackles), Veach was recognizing that in the modern NFL, right tackles are just as important as left tackles — and he was going to see to it that both positions got an upgrade before the 2023 season.

Still, that’s a lot of money to pay an offensive lineman — so it’s fair for Benjamin to give Taylor as an example of an NFL player who will be under pressure to perform this season. But Taylor comes from Jacksonville in good health, so it’s possible to argue that Smith (who had a down season as he battled injuries while playing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season) will face even more pressure than his new teammate.

There’s little reason, however, to dispute Benjamin’s characterization of Brown as a player who is under great pressure in 2023. He might be coming into a better situation in Cincinnati than he did in Kansas City — replacing Jonah Williams is probably easier than stepping in for Eric Fisher — but he’s still got a lot to prove as a left tackle.


Which Chiefs tackle is under the most pressure in 2023?

This poll is closed

  • 66%
    LT Donovan Smith
    (724 votes)
  • 33%
    RT Jawaan Taylor
    (369 votes)
1093 votes total Vote Now

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