Who are Willie Gay Jr. and Lucas Niang?
Willie Gay Jr. was the starting inside linebacker for Mississippi State. Gay has some off the field issues. He missed eight games in his final season due to suspension. The suspensions stem from cheating on a test, punching and breaking his quarterback’s orbital bone, and then two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties in a game. Andy Reid has a lot of success with character issue players, however.
Lucas Niang was an offensive tackle for TCU. Prior to the start of his senior season, Niang was viewed by many as the top offensive tackle and a first round pick. An injury his senior year explains the shift in the way teams viewed him.
Speed, speed, and more speed. Gay ran the second fastest 40 yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. His speed makes him a threat in pass coverage which is something the Chiefs defense desperately need from their linebackers. When he gets into position he is very good at finishing the play with strong tackles.
In 975 snaps, Niang gave up zero sacks. His length and mobility make him an excellent fit for an offense that takes time to develop deep pass concepts. Very competitive player that will get in the defender’s face.
Gay’s instincts leave something to be desired. He has a hard time reading where the holes will open on the offensive line and struggles to mirror the running back in the hole. He has to develop more feel within the game to reach his ceiling.
Niang’s biggest issues are in his footwork. He takes some false steps and loses his base when he loses his leverage in pass protection. Niang also struggles to engage in the second level against athletic players.
Gay is a very sound tackler and has excellent pass coverage ability. Ironically, his player comparison is Derrick Johnson. The Chiefs have needed a Derrick Johnson type inside linebacker ever since he left. Gay can finally fill that role for them.
Niang is a big guy with athleticism and has fundamentals that need some work. He also struggles engaging down the field. These are all things that Dion Dawkins had to overcome as well. Niang should see a similar start to his career.
Day Two Grade
With their first pick of the day the Chiefs addressed their biggest hole on the roster; inside linebacker. Willie Gay Jr has one of the highest ceilings among all linebacker prospects and Chiefs were able to snag him at the end of the second round. With their third round pick they were able to get a guy who was projected as a first round talent at one point. Lucas Niang can be the tackle of the future while sliding to guard in the meantime.
Players with a high ceiling, players that can contribute now, players that can be building blocks for the future. The Chiefs filled holes while also getting players that were among the best at their position. Because of that, I give the Chiefs a B+ for their day two draft grade.
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