During Sunday night’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs rookie Left Tackle Wanya Morris entered the game after a neck injury sidelined veteran left tackle Donovan Smith. Unable to finish the game, Morris took his rightful place as the present and future starter.
After Super Bowl LV, Kansas City Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach began the process of overhauling his offensive line. Out went starters Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher. Orlando Brown, Jr., Joe Thuney, Trey Smith, and Creed Humphries came in to protect Patrick Mahomes.
In 2024, Veach added veteran Left Tackle Donovan Smith and made a big free-agent splash for Right Tackle Jawaan Taylor. Any observer would say that Smith and Taylor, who led the league in penalties, have struggled to find their footing. However, both are incredibly talented and now is not the time to panic.
With the news that Smith is likely out against the Buffalo Bills this week, a third-round pick, Wanya Morris, becomes the Chiefs new left tackle. Against the Packers, he held his own and played well, considering he was thrust into action with little prep time.
When he was drafted, the consensus was he had the goods to be a starting left tackle. The fact he slid to the third round was shocking. At the University of Oklahoma, he dominated Big XII opponents.
Even in training camp, you could see that Morris had a solid grasp of the technical aspect of playing left tackle. Further, his footwork, upper body strength, and athleticism could be seen back in August. Still, the Chiefs signed Smith because they knew Morris needed time to adjust to the NFL game.
After 12 games, Morris is getting his chance to complete the Chiefs offensive line makeover. Should he be able to accept the challenge, it’s likely the Chiefs will not have to sign a free-agent left tackle in the off-season.
Those dollars could come in handy next spring, considering both Smith and Humphries are looking for a new contract from the Chiefs.
Morris was drafted to be the future starting left tackle for the Chiefs. However, he would need a year of NFL seasoning to transition from backup to starter in 2024. However, that timetable is moving up this Sunday against the Bills.
It’s a risky move by Head Coach Andy Reid, but it was probably time, considering the struggle Smith has endured this season. The injury allowed Reid to get Morris a whole week of practice at left tackle, and that should be sufficient time to bridge any gaps in the game plan before kick-off.
Still, you have to give props to Brett Veach. He has systematically rebuilt his Super Bowl LIV roster, won it again two years later, and now hopes to have the pieces to win back-to-back Lombardi Trophies.
Though he’s taken hits on the evaluation side of his wide receivers, there is no denying that Morris is stepping into a starter role; his line will be solid over the next few years. Thuney is the oldest offensive lineman and the most expensive, so he’ll be replaced eventually.
However, if all can be retained and fit in the salary cap, the core group will provide a stable front for Mahomes for the foreseeable future.