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Pre-Camp Breakdown: Looking at the Chiefs Offensive Line

The Chiefs currently have 15 offensive linemen on the roster heading into training camp

The Kansas City Chiefs are set to kick off training camp in just a few weeks, and with the annual trek to St. Joseph nearly here, we're going to spend the next several days examining every position group on the roster heading into camp.

Here's a look at what we've covered so far: QB | RB | TE | LB

We'll continue with the offensive line, where the Chiefs currently employ 15 players. Let's take a look at each, separated by offensive tackles and interior linemen. Many of these players possess the versatility to handle either role, but for the sake of this breakdown, each player will be sorted into where they've been grouped so far this summer.

Offensive Tackles

Let's start with the Chiefs' starting right tackle last season, Jawaan Taylor, followed by the two players who are primarily competing for the role of starting left tackle in 2024: Wanya Morris and rookie Kingsley Suamataia. The rest of the Chiefs' offensive tackles are then listed alphabetically.

Jawaan Taylor

A free agent addition last offseason, Taylor started all of Kansas City's 21 games (including the playoffs) last year, lining up at right tackle for each of them. The 26-year-old tackle fought through some adverse situations early in the season as he acclimated to his new team, but Taylor – who allowed just 21 pressures across 775 pass-blocking snaps for Jacksonville in 2022 – didn't yield a single sack between Week 17 and Super Bowl LVIII.

Offensive Line Coach Andy Heck has been impressed with Taylor's offseason, too. Here's what Heck said about his veteran right tackle on May 30:

"I personally experienced this as a young free agent changing teams…It takes a year. You're moving cities, you're learning a new town, there's new terminology and new techniques. I think it can take a year to find your grove," Heck said. "It doesn't have to, but I think it typically does. So, my expectation would be that JT is going to pick up where he left off having cleaned some of those things up, and he'll be that much further along [this season] without being in the midst of a transition."

Wanya Morris

A third-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft, Morris was a contributor on special teams through much of last season until an injury to starting left tackle Donovan Smith shifted the responsibility of protecting quarterback Patrick Mahomes' blindside to the 6-foot-5, 307-pound Morris in Week 13. Morris went on to start four games at left tackle from that point on, gaining invaluable experience while helping Kansas City secure the division title in his final start: a Week 17 victory over Cincinnati in which he allowed just three pressures on 34 pass-blocking snaps.

With Smith no longer on Kansas City's roster heading into 2024, Morris will now have an opportunity to compete for the starting left tackle job this season.

Kingsley Suamataia

The Chiefs selected Suamataia with the No. 63 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft earlier this offseason following a campaign in which the former BYU star didn't allow a single sack.

Suamataia – who turned 21 in January – stands at 6-foot-5 and 326 pounds with 34-inch arms, and with that size in mind, the folks at Pro Football Focus wrote the following:

"He has impressive posture, weight distribution and balance for a player of his size."

He's versatile, too. Suamataia logged 1,342 offensive snaps during his two seasons at BYU, splitting his time almost right down the middle between right tackle (51.2%) and left tackle (48.8%). He was the Cougars' starting left tackle in 2022, recording 11 starts at the position after tallying 12 starts at right tackle the year prior.

As for what the Chiefs' front office thinks of him, Assistant General Manager Mike Borgonzi spoke about Suamataia's athleticism during draft weekend:

"You can see the feet. He's 325 pounds and he's light on his feet. That certainly jumps out when you see a big guy who can move like that," Borgonzi said. "He's a prototype left tackle with his athleticism and length, but he has the versatility to play both, which is good, and we've actually seen it."

The competition between Suamataia and Morris for the Chiefs' starting spot at left tackle will be one of the storylines of training camp.

Ethan Driskell

An undrafted free agent signee, Driskell is big man at 6-foot-9 and 329 pounds with 35-inch arms. He appeared in 48 games (26 starts) for the Marshall Thundering Herd over the last four years, where all 26 of his starts (which took place over the last two seasons) were at left tackle.

The No. 18 overall offensive tackle in The Athletic's draft guide, prospect guru Dane Brugler projected Driskell to be a fifth or sixth-round selection. Here's more from Brugler:

"Overall, Driskell has towering size, and leverage will always be an area of emphasis for him, but he displays the functional movement skills and encouraging power to earn meaningful snaps in the NFL…He has a realistic chance to grow into a swing tackle."

Chukwuebuka Godrick

Godrick is back with the Chiefs after spending all of last season on Kansas City's practice squad. A native of Nigeria, Godrick joined the Chiefs last offseason through the NFL International Player Pathway Program. The 6-foot-5, 295-pound lineman is a former basketball player who impressed at the inaugural NFL Africa camp in Ghana before earning an invitation to the International Combine in London last year.

Since 2017, the NFL IPP has sought to provide elite athletes from around the world with an opportunity to earn a spot on an NFL roster and increase the number of international players in the league. In the case of Godrick, his second year in the Chiefs' system appears to be going well according to Offensive Line Coach Andy Heck, who gave Godrick an opportunity to play some left tackle during offseason practices.

"Chu is an exciting developmental guy, and he's been doing very well this spring, so we wanted to give him a look out there," Heck said on May 30.

Godrick will now aim to build on that progress during training camp.

Griffin McDowell

Another undrafted free agent signee, McDowell recorded 873 snaps at left tackle for Chattanooga last season after serving largely as a reserve player at Florida from 2018 through 2022. He was effective, too, as the 6-foot-5, 282-pound McDowell was the ninth-best tackle in the FCS in terms of pass-blocking according to Pro Football Focus' metrics last year.

For what it's worth, McDowell logged a handful of snaps at left guard and center during his career at Florida, too.

Lucas Niang

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound Niang appeared in a career-most 14 games last season, serving almost exclusively on special teams before logging 57 snaps at right tackle in Week 18.

Niang appeared in 10 games in 2022 (including the playoffs), also serving primarily as a blocker on special teams. It was a bit of a transitionary season for the former third-round pick, as Niang tore his patellar tendon late in the 2021 season and missed the first half of 2022 due to the injury.

Prior to getting hurt, Niang started nine games at right tackle for the Chiefs in 2021 after winning the job out of training camp. The injury ultimately ended his season early and delayed his debut in 2022, but now more than two years removed from being sidelined, Niang – at still only 25 years old – will have an opportunity to show that he can provide valuable depth at tackle in 2024.

Interior Offensive Linemen

Next, this breakdown of the Chiefs' interior offensive linemen begins with last year's starters in left guard Joe Thuney, center Creed Humphrey and right guard Trey Smith before proceeding alphabetically.

Joe Thuney

Perhaps the top guard in the NFL, Thuney has been the picture of consistent brilliance as the Chiefs' starting left guard over the last three seasons. In fact, in each of the last three years, Thuney has ended the season as Pro Football Focus' top-ranked guard in terms of pass-blocking.

The veteran guard has yielded just four sacks across 2,220 regular-season pass-blocking snaps since 2021, and while a pectoral injury sidelined Thuney for the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl LVIII this past season, he appears to be on track for the 2024 campaign.

Here's what Coach Reid had to say about Thuney's rehab progress on June 13 in the context of whether he could be ready for the beginning of camp:

"Joe's working his tail off [and] getting better. We've got to see exactly how that thing works out," Reid said. "I'm not sure. We've got to get clearance from the doctor and [go through] that whole process, but he's made good progress. He'll be one of those guys that's kind of right on the border [in terms of] whether he can go or not go from the healing part of it."

Creed Humphrey

Humphrey enters his third season as a professional with the distinction of being Pro Football Focus’ top-ranked center in the NFL. Here's what they wrote about the Chiefs' Pro Bowl center:

"Humphrey surpassed Jason Kelce as the game's best center in our 2023 rankings, and with Kelce now retired, Humphrey is the clear best center in the NFL. He allowed just 16 pressures in 2023, and his 78.2 overall grade ranked seventh at the position."

The 25-year-old Humphrey also landed at No. 48 overall in CBS Sports’ rankings of the top players in the NFL, earning the No. 1 spot among all centers.

Trey Smith

One of the steals of the 2021 NFL Draft, Smith has grown from humble beginnings as a sixth-round pick into one of the league's top offensive guards. The 25-year-old Smith has started 50 games over the last three seasons, logging more than 1,000 regular-season snaps in each.

Smith was PFF's No. 8 overall guard last season among players to tally 1,000+ snaps, which was up one spot from his No. 9 overall ranking the year prior, and up three spots from his No. 11 ranking in 2021.

Overall, Smith, Humphrey and Thuney round out arguably the best trio of interior linemen in the league.

Mike Caliendo

Originally an undrafted free agent signee out of Western Michigan in 2022, Caliendo paid his dues on the Chiefs' practice squad for a year before earning a spot on the 53-man roster ahead of the 2023 campaign. He then went on to appear in eight games last season, playing primarily on special teams before logging 57 offensive snaps (50 at left guard, 7 at right guard) in Week 18 against Los Angeles.

Caliendo, who has shown the ability to play either guard spot in addition to center, is a great example of a rookie free agent who has grown into a potential contributor over time. With former swing interior offensive lineman Nick Allegretti no longer in Kansas City, Caliendo will have an opportunity to earn that role with a strong camp.

C.J. Hanson

A seventh-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, the 6-foot-5, 300-pound Hanson appeared in 43 games at Holy Cross over the last four years, including 38 consecutive starts at right guard. He earned all-conference honors in both 2021 and 2022 before garnering FCS All-American recognition in 2023.

Hanson allowed just eight pressures (and zero sacks) on 321 pass-blocking snaps last season as a captain on one of the top offenses in the FCS. Here's more from the Patriot League's website:

"Hanson started at right guard on an offensive line that ranked in the top 10 nationally in rushing offense (third, 264.2 yards per game), total offense (fourth, 466.6 yards per game) and scoring offense (sixth, 36.9 points per game)."

McKade Mettauer

An undrafted free agent signee, the 6-foot-4, 316-pound Mettauer made 12 starts at right guard for Oklahoma in 2023 and didn't yield a sack across 464 pass-blocking snaps. He tallied 714 total snaps at left guard the season prior, where he also didn't allow a single sack.

Prior to joining the Sooners in 2022, Mettauer spent three seasons at the University of California from 2019 through 2021, playing primarily at right guard. In total, Mettauer didn't allow a single sack over his last 1,458 pass-blocking snaps in college.

Hunter Nourzad

The No. 159 overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Nourzad – who stands at 6-foot-3 and 317 pounds – logged starts at right tackle (20 games), center (13 games), left guard (7 games) and right guard (1 game) during his collegiate career between Penn State and Cornell, including 13 starts at center in 2023. In total, the 24-year-old Nourzad has 44 starts under his belt while manning four of the five positions up front.

That positional versatility is invaluable, and unsurprisingly, Chiefs' Northeast Area Scout Cassidy Kaminski compared his skillset to that of former Chiefs' offensive lineman Nick Allegretti, who started for Kansas City at left guard in Super Bowl LVIII.

Here's more from Kaminski on Nourzad:

"You think about versatility, he's played four years of college football and played three positions," Kaminski said. "I think he's an interior guy for us…He will take care of whatever position we ask him to [play] on the interior."

Nick Torres

A versatile offensive line prospect, Torres – who signed with the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent – logged significant experience at right tackle, right guard and left tackle during his time in college. He was most recently the Villanova Wildcats' starting right guard, recording 672 snaps at that spot in 2023.

Torres stands at 6-foot-6 and 320 pounds.

The Bottom Line

The Chiefs have alternated keeping either 10 or nine offensive linemen for Week 1 in each of the last five seasons, opting to keep 10 offensive linemen for the 2023 campaign. With that in mind, it's reasonable to assume that Kansas City will keep at least nine of the 15 offensive linemen currently on the roster.

That group will surely include the four returning starters from last year in Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith and Jawaan Taylor, plus the duo of second-year offensive tackle Wanya Morris and rookie Kingsley Suamataia, who will each be competing for the starting left tackle job throughout training camp.

As for the competition between Morris and Suamataia, Head Coach Andy Reid spoke about what might be the primary storyline of training camp earlier this summer:

"Listen, they've both done a nice job. I like the production we've seen from both of them," Reid said. "Both of them are young guys. So, we'll just see how it all finishes up through camp. It's good competition. We're going to end up playing the five best guys, and we'll go from there. We'll just see how it all plays out."

The inclusion of those six players leaves between three or four spots for the remaining nine offensive linemen on the current roster. Aside from the competition at left tackle, another battle to watch will be for the role vacated by former Chief Nick Allegretti: a swing interior offensive lineman. Mike Caliendo will compete with rookies Hunter Nourzad and C.J. Hanson for that responsibility, and as history has indicated, it's quite possible that a combination of those three players could share that role in 2024 depending on how camp transpires. The Chiefs kept five interior offensive linemen last season, so there could be a roster crunch at this position as three players compete for potentially two spots, but it's certainty a good problem to have.

At tackle, veteran offensive lineman Lucas Niang and International Player Pathway alum Chukwuebuka Godrick will also have an opportunity to compete for a roster spot. The Chiefs kept five offensive tackles last year, so it's possible that both Niang and Chukwuebuka could make the team.

Lastly, undrafted free agent signees Ethan Driskell, Griffin McDowell, McKade Mettauer and Nick Torres will each have a chance to show what they can do during training camp. It's not out of the question that one of these players could make the team following a strong showing, but as Caliendo's example demonstrates, earning a spot on the practice squad could be just as valuable in the long run.

It's all to say that Kansas City's offensive line is one of the more interesting storylines to follow throughout camp, and considering that the true evaluation of this group can't really begin until padded practices commence in St. Joseph, those first few weeks will be fun to watch.