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Frogs in the Pros: Lucas Niang anchors the right side for Kansas City

The former TCU tackle has earned a starting job protecting Chiefs superstar Patrick Mahomes

NFL: AUG 27 Preseason - Vikings at Chiefs Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Former TCU offensive lineman Lucas Niang ended his collegiate career as one of the highest-graded tackles in Division I football. Despite falling in the 2020 NFL Draft because of an injury, Niang has already earned the starting right tackle job for the Kansas City Chiefs, where he’ll be tasked with protecting superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

The Chiefs used a third-round selection on Niang, who started 27 games over his final three seasons with the Horned Frogs. The 6-foot-6, 315-pounder opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns, but joined an offensive line in 2021 without former franchise left tackle Eric Fisher and veteran right tackle Mitchell Schwartz. Fisher signed a one-year deal with the Indianapolis Colts after injuries his Achilles’ tendon during the postseason, while Schwartz remains a free agent after undergoing back surgery.

Enter Niang, who earned the starting right tackle job over veteran Mike Remmers after the Chiefs acquired left tackle Orlando Brown from the Baltimore Ravens. Although Schwartz may not be with the team, he seems rather impressed with Niang’s performance so far. Niang and the Chiefs are 1-1 on the season after a tough loss to the Ravens.

Here are more updates on what TCU alums are doing in the NFL.

Halapoulivaati Vaitai begins second season in Detroit

Vaitai signed a five-year, $50 million contract with the Detroit Lions in 2020 after spending his first four seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. The former fifth-round draft pick and 2017 Super Bowl champion spent time at both tackle positions, filling in for Lane Johnson and Jason Peters on multiple occasions. Vaitai totaled 20 starts with the Eagles.

The Lions have since moved Vaitai inside to right guard, where he started 10 games in 2020 and has started both games in 2021. With left tackle Taylor Decker sidelined, Detroit has rotated first-round pick Penei Sewell to that side, but Vaitai has remained on the interior. Vaitai will look to stay healthy after being placed on IR midway through the 2020 season.

Ben Banogu sees brief action for the Indianapolis Colts

The TCU defensive end has generated plenty of buzz after his second-round selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, which made Sunday’s matchup against the Los Angeles Rams somewhat head-scratching. Banogu played only four snaps in the contest, leading Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus to explain that his lack of work was “situational”.

The former Horned Frog pass rusher has appeared in 25 games since joining the Colts in 2019, totaling 17 tackles. After recording 2.5 sacks and two stuffs during his rookie season, Banogu generated only six total tackles in 2020. Now entering his third season in Indianapolis, Banogu will seek to make his presence felt and satisfy the hype.