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Khyiris Tonga Could Be Late-Round Defensive Line Depth for the Chiefs

BYU nose tackle Khyiris Tonga is an explosive gap-eater who could go in the latter stages of the 2021 NFL Draft. Should the Kansas City Chiefs be interested?
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Khyiris Tonga - IDL, BYU

By the numbers:

6'4", 321 pounds.

2020: 36 tackles (3.5 for loss), 3.5 sacks, five passes broken up in 11 games played.


Khyiris Tonga is a sturdily-built nose tackle who has length and size that should translate well to the next level. He commands double-teams and is a gap-eater against the run. When given just a single assignment, Tonga makes offensive lines pay. His motor revs high at all times and he gives centers all they can handle on every down.

Tonga plays with a great deal of finesse for a player of his size. His get-off at the line of scrimmage is very good and he's at his best when that initial burst is followed up by a bull rush. He can collapse the pocket against the pass and occasionally break into the backfield to sniff out run plays. Tonga wraps up well and is willing to get his hands dirty. 

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While Tonga's bull rush and first step are plus traits, there is no elite block on which to build on. If his first pass-rush move doesn't work, that's about all he has to offer. His hips are stiff at times, which leads to some awkward lateral movement that doesn't line up with how fast he starts his reps. Tonga is disruptive when things go his way but when knocked off balance or forced to divert from his plan, he doesn't have the tools to be dynamic. 

When double-teamed, Tonga can be washed out of the play. He needs to add strength in his lower body in order to assist in settling in as an anchor along the defensive line. Maintaining his gap will be paramount at the next level, especially as a nose tackle. Tonga has the frame to be an immovable object of sorts, but that needs to reflect in his play.

How Tonga fits with the Chiefs:

The Chiefs' current interior defensive line picture is crowded. With Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Tershawn Wharton and Khalen Saunders firmly entrenched, Tonga would have his work cut out for him in regards to playing time. He would also have the worst pass-rushing chops of that group. With that said, he brings immediate value as a rotational piece. The positional need isn't pressing, but there's no such thing as having too many defensive linemen.

Final Thoughts:

Tonga is a big-bodied nose tackle with moderate run-stopping potential. His role as a rookie almost surely won't be big, but that would preserve his intensity to be unleashed when on the field. He has a long way to go before becoming an every-down player — if he ever does so. Teams will know what they are getting with Tonga, which isn't a bad thing. He has a high floor and a low ceiling, grading out as a good sixth-round option who could go anywhere on Day 3 of the draft.

Read More: Arrowhead Report's 100 Players in 100 Days: A Kansas City Chiefs Draft Guide.

March 29 update: After an impressive showing at BYU's pro day, Tonga is beginning to rise up some draft boards. He now receives an adjusted fifth-round grade.