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Trey Smith Has Already Overachieved His Draft Slot, So What's Next?

The Chiefs got a sixth-round steal when they selected Trey Smith in the 2021 NFL Draft. In year two, can Smith ascend to another level?

In the spring of 2021, the Kansas City Chiefs were just coming off a Super Bowl appearance that saw quarterback Patrick Mahomes running for his life on nearly every passing play. General manager Brett Veach knew something needed to change, and he was prepared to use as many resources in the offseason as necessary to overhaul and upgrade the offensive line.

Part of the overhaul came with some tough cuts. The team parted ways with former No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher, who suffered an Achilles injury in the AFC Championship Game. Mitchell Schwartz, one of the best right tackles in the NFL, had been out most of the season with a back injury. He was released on the same day.

Center Austin Reiter was a free agent and looking for a larger contract than what the Chiefs wanted to offer. Mike Remmers was a nice veteran piece but not a long-term solution. Nick Allegretti and Andrew Wylie are good depth pieces, but the Chiefs needed more.

The Chiefs went out and grabbed New England Patriots free agent Joe Thuney, the best left guard available and one of the best in the league. They traded a first-round pick for Orlando Brown Jr. to be their left tackle. They drafted a new center, Creed Humphrey, in the second round. But the Chiefs' best value on the rebuilt 2021 offensive line came in the sixth round of the same draft when they selected Tennessee guard Trey Smith.

Jan 23, 2022; Kansas City, Missouri, USA; Kansas City Chiefs guard Trey Smith (65) celebrates while leaving the field after the win over the Buffalo Bills during an AFC Divisional playoff football game at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Smith had a solid career at Tennessee. He started all 12 games his freshman year and earned second-team All-SEC honors. In the offseason, it was discovered that he had a blood clot issue in his lungs that threatened to end his career during his sophomore year. Eventually, with the help of doctors and blood-thinning medication, Smith sat out for a while to heal before working his way back to the field a year later.

He was able to play out his full junior season with no issues, starting every game at left guard. He was named first-team All-SEC for his efforts. He decided to pass on the NFL draft in 2020 and play his senior season at Tennessee. Smith ended up as a first-team All-SEC member again and showed he was ready for the next level.

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Despite being projected as an early second-round pick in some circles, many NFL teams were cautious of the blood clot issues that appeared during Smith's sophomore year at Tennessee. Despite being cleared and playing two seasons without issue, he was told there is a chance the clots could come back. This scared many teams away.

The Chiefs were fortunate that he slid all the way to their sixth-round selection. He took the opportunity he was given and ran with it. He was asked to play right guard immediately and quickly became the starting right guard throughout camp and into the preseason. At that point, there was no doubt Smith would be the starter heading into the season.

Smith looked downright dominant at times. He is a physical freak and loves playing to the whistle. There were many times when Smith was caught driving players into the ground, legally, and making life miserable for opposing defensive linemen. He really stood out in the run game, blowing holes open for KC's rotation of running backs.

He was adequate in pass protection, but that is one part of the game where Smith can grow and turn himself into one of the elite right guards in the game. He has the physical features and the mental capacity to take his game to another level.

Overall, Smith had a very strong rookie season and helped fortify a new-look offensive line in Kansas City. The o-line featuring Smith, Humphrey, Thuney and Brown will likely be the core unit for the next several years. The competition for the right tackle spot will be an intriguing one, but whoever wins the job will have a good teammate blocking next to him.

I believe if Smith continues to be a mauler in the running game and improves his pass protection throughout the early part of the season, we could see a nice second-year jump from the Chiefs' right guard. While many teams didn’t want to take a chance on Smith, the Chiefs did, and it looks like it has paid off.