Last year the Chiefs used a third-round draft pick on offensive tackle Lucas Niang, who opted out of the 2020 season. As it turned out, the Chiefs could have used him, as they were devastated by injuries on the offensive line and quarterback Patrick Mahomes was running for his life in the Super Bowl. But Niang has no regrets about opting out.
“I don’t regret my decision,” he said, via the Kansas City Star. “At the time, I thought it was the best decision to make for me. I was thinking long-term, and that’s what I decided. . . . I just didn’t feel comfortable. Not knowing enough about the [virus], it felt like a logical thing to do.”
The line Niang will join in 2021 looks a whole lot different than the one he decided not to be a part of last year. The Chiefs signed offensive linemen Joe Thuney, Kyle Long and Austin Blythe, traded for Orlando Brown Jr., drafted Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith, and got back two opt-outs in Niang and Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who opted out of the 2020 season so that he could work in a nursing home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chiefs coach Andy Reid says it’s easy to see the talent that the Chiefs liked about him in last year’s draft.
“He’s a big man — a really big man,” Reid said. “And he has these beautiful feet. I look forward to getting him back in the pads at training camp and moving around and doing what offensive linemen do, the real football part of it. But until then, this gives him a chance to get acclimated mentally and physically as he goes forward. I think that’s a good lead-up for him.”
The Chiefs’ offensive line depth chart now looks so crowded that Niang is not a lock to make the roster. But the Chiefs are optimistic that he’s going to contribute, and that Mahomes will never again have to run for his life like he did in the Super Bowl.