The Kansas City Chiefs have announced that Donovan Smith, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, will begin as their starting left tackle as we head to the 2023 season.
This decision was confirmed by Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, who revealed the team’s plan to deploy Smith in this crucial position of protecting the blind side of quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Smith’s signing with the Chiefs came after the conclusion of the 2023 NFL Draft, as he inked a one-year contract worth up to $9 million. The 29-year-old offensive lineman was drafted by the Buccaneers in the second round of the 2015 draft from Penn State University. During his tenure in Tampa Bay, Smith started an impressive 124 games, showcasing his durability and experience in the league.
While Smith’s track record demonstrates his reliability, his on-field performance has been a subject of debate. Critics argue that he has never risen above average throughout his career, lacking the consistency and dominance expected from an elite left tackle. Despite this, Smith showcased a better performance in the 2020 season following the arrival of quarterback Tom Brady, culminating in the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl victory over the Chiefs with a score of 31-9.
However, statistics from last season reveal some concerns surrounding Smith’s performance. He allowed 31 pressures and 6 sacks, making him susceptible to opposing pass-rushers. Moreover, Smith’s 12 accepted penalties were the highest in the league, and at least three of them directly impacted touchdowns for Tom Brady that had to be called back.
Interestingly, the Chiefs had made a significant investment in another offensive tackle during the free-agency period. Jawaan Taylor, formerly of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was signed to a lucrative four-year, $80 million contract, with $60 million guaranteed. Despite this massive deal, the Chiefs plan to utilize Taylor as the team’s right tackle, as they prioritize Smith at the more critical left tackle position.
Left tackle is widely regarded as one of the most important positions on the offensive line, responsible for protecting the quarterback’s blind side and ensuring their safety. The decision to start Smith at left tackle despite concerns about his performance suggests that the Chiefs have confidence in his abilities to execute this critical role effectively.
Only time will tell if Donovan Smith can rise to the occasion and prove his worth as the Chiefs’ starting left tackle. The upcoming season will be a crucial test for him as he aims to solidify his place on the team and silence the doubters. The Chiefs, led by head coach Andy Reid, appear to have a clear vision for their offensive line, and their decision to prioritize Smith’s experience and potential outweighs any apprehensions about his past performance.