Chiefs address needs on offensive line

It will take a while to determine how well the Kansas City Chiefs addressed their roster needs in the NFL Draft this year as the team looked to shore up its wide receiving corps and offensive line.

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April 29, 2024 - 3:07 PM

Kingsley Suamataia (OL65) of the Brigham Young Cougars speaks to the media during the 2024 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 2, 2024, in Indianapolis. (Justin Casterline/Getty Images/TNS)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City Chiefs had two distinct holes on their roster as they headed into the offseason.

The two-time defending Super Bowl champions filled them with their first two picks in the NFL draft.

While every general manager talks about taking “the best player available,” and some make a surprising pick that goes against the grain, Brett Veach did exactly what was expected. The Chiefs’ GM moved up modestly in the first round to take Texas burner Xavier Worthy, instantly upgrading what was one of the league’s worst wide receiving corps last year, then made another minor trade-up in Round 2 to take BYU’s Kingsley Suamataia, potentially filling a glaring hole at left tackle.

“We just let the board play out and saw the value there,” Veach said.

Indeed, the Chiefs’ draft board played out perfectly.

Worthy set the NFL combine record by running the 40-yard dash in 4.21 seconds, giving Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes a legitimate deep threat for the first time since they traded Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins. Worthy is also an underrated route-runner with sure hands, something the Chiefs lacked while leading the league in dropped passes.

The Chiefs hope Worthy can pair well with Marquise Brown, whom they signed in free agency, and Rashee Rice, whose future is up in the air while dealing with legal trouble stemming from a street racing crash in Texas.

“It doesn’t hurt to have down-the-field speed,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “We’ve functioned without the great speed down the field and done well, (but) if you have an opportunity to get somebody that you think is a good player — just not a speed guy but a good football player — I think you probably need to take advantage of that.”

The issue then becomes giving Mahomes time to get the ball to those guys, and that’s where Suamataia comes into the picture.

Many scouts gave him a first-round grade, yet the 6-foot-5, 328-pound offensive tackle fell to Kansas City late in the second round, and he could start from Day 1. The Chiefs allowed Donovan Smith to reach free agency, so Suamataia will likely compete with Wanya Morris and Lucas Niang for the opportunity to protect Mahomes’ blind side.

“If I do get the opportunity to be his blindside, shoot, that would mean the world to me,” Suamataia said. “I’m just ready to come in wherever I best fit on the team and just get it rolling from there.”

FOURTH-ROUND FINDS

The Chiefs did not have a third-round selection, so they used their two fourth-rounders on less pressing holes at tight end and safety. Jared Wiley of TCU can be groomed for the day when Travis Kelce decides to hang up the cleats, while Jaden Hicks — ranked by some draft pundits as the No. 1 safety in the class — can provide immediate help in the secondary.

THE CENTER OF IT ALL

The Chiefs spent a fifth-rounder on Penn State’s Hunter Nourzad, who played right tackle at Cornell before starting at center the past two seasons at Penn State. Creed Humphrey, a two-time Pro Bowl pick at center for Kansas City, had some problems with his snaps last season. Nourzad could push him or perhaps slide to guard, where Joe Thuney is coming off pectoral surgery.

LATE-ROUND CORNERS

The Chiefs chose Tennessee cornerback Kamal Hadden in the sixth round and hope he can follow a string of successful late-round picks at the position. Two years ago, they took regular contributors Josh Williams in the fourth round and Jaylen Watson in the seventh. Last year, fourth-rounder Chamarri Conner played a big role in their success.

GETTING DEFENSIVE

Kansas City built one of the league’s best defenses through the draft, using several high picks in recent years. But it used its first three selections this year to prop up the offense, then hit the defense in the later rounds.

WORK TO DO

The Chiefs could still use some depth at defensive tackle, where they brought back Chris Jones, Tershawn Wharton and Derrick Nnadi this offseason, and running back, where they brought back Clyde Edwards-Helaire to play behind Isiah Pacheco.

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