Niang, who started nine games at right tackle for the Chiefs in 2021, tore his patellar tendon in Week 17 and is in the process of returning to the field. It was an unfortunate break for the former third-round pick after securing the starting right tackle position out of camp last year, but Niang’s age (23) and exceptional height (6ft 7in , 339 pounds) are reasons to monitor his rehab progress.
There was good news on that front earlier this offseason, as general manager Brett Veach reported that Niang is progressing and could potentially return to action by the end of training camp. His status will be something to watch.
Tega Wanogho, 24, is entering his second season with Kansas City after playing two games last season (6 snaps overall). A former sixth-round pick (No. 210 overall) of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2020, Tega Wanogho records at 6-foot-5 and 303 pounds.
He is still relatively new to football too. A fascinating story, Tega Wanogho grew up in Nigeria and was an outstanding high school basketball player after arriving in the United States. According to NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein, Tega Wanogho only started playing football to stay in shape. Remarkably, he showed real talent for the game despite his limited experience and caught the eye of Auburn, where Tega Wanogho started 32 games and earned multiple all-conference selections.
Zierlein projected Tega Wanogho as a potential third- or fourth-round pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, but he ultimately fell in the sixth round. He spent the majority of his rookie season on the Eagles practice squad – appearing in one game (Week 17) – before signing with the Chiefs in 2021.
Now in his fifth season with Kansas City, Wylie has emerged from humble beginnings to carve out an impressive career. Originally a free agent signed in 2018, Wylie brought the team out of camp and won the Mack Lee Hill Award that year, which is given annually to the Chiefs’ most outstanding first-year player. He played in 16 games that season (with 10 starts) and has been a familiar face along Kansas City’s offensive line ever since, starting 11 games in 2019, 14 games in 2020 and seven games in 2021.
Wylie’s versatility is what has made him so valuable over the years. He was primarily a guard for the first part of his career, but he worked exclusively as a right tackle last season and held on.
Interior linemen (starting with last year’s starters, then sorted alphabetically)
The Chiefs signed Thuney in free agency last offseason with hopes that he would continue his rise as one of the NFL’s top guards, and he didn’t disappoint. In fact, according to PFF ratings, Thuney compiled the best season of his excellent career in 2021. He started all 17 games – recording 1,184 snaps – while earning PFF’s highest pass blocking rating among skilled guards. . This performance came despite a fractured hand in Week 5 which – as an example of Thuney’s tenacity – did not force him to miss a single start.
Thuney also showed his versatility last season, rebounding at left tackle in Week 17 due to injuries elsewhere along the line. Thuney was tasked with stopping one of the NFL’s best passing throwers – defensive end Trey Hendrickson – without any prior preparation, but as expected with Thuney, the man was brilliant. He only allowed two total pressures (and 0 sacks) in the game, once again displaying his tremendous value.
In short, the 29-year-old is firmly entrenched as the Chiefs’ left guard (barring injuries elsewhere) for years to come.
When a center is included in ‘Rookie of the Year’ conversations, it signals that things are going extremely well for the team that drafted him. Such was the case with Humphrey, who joined the Chiefs as the 63rd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and quickly established himself as the best center in football. He went on to earn the fourth-highest PFF rating among all offensive linemen last season and the highest rating of any center since 2017.
Additionally, in PFF’s “re-draft” of the 2021 class, they projected Humphrey as the No. 14 overall selection should the draft go ahead in hindsight last season.