The Chiefs closed out their 2021 NFL Draft class the same way they embarked on the offseason.
Yet more help for the offensive line.
The Chiefs selected Tennessee interior lineman Trey Smith with the 226th overall pick late in the sixth round, their sixth and final selection of the draft.
Smith (6-5, 320 pounds) is considered a prospect worth higher value — if he’s healthy. He was projected as a mid-round pick by several national experts but instead fell to the Chiefs in the sixth.
During his college career, he had blood clots in his lungs, though it’s not known if that’s the reason for his tumble. That reasoning rests within the other 31 front offices.
Smith did play 23 games over the last two seasons and was a second-team All-American pick in 2020. He started 41 career college games and said the blood clots have not been an issue since 2018.
“A very good football player. He’s one of the top guards in the country here for the last couple years,” said Mike Borgonzi, Chiefs director of football operations. “Our medical staff, with Rick Burkholder and our doctors, fully vetted the situation, so we feel completely comfortable where he’s at medically to play for us. And we’re just really excited to add him to the roster here.”
On Saturday, Smith said he’s fully healthy and became more eager to talk of his desire to help a team win a championship.
As he’s seen the Chiefs do before.
Two years ago as the Chiefs stormed back to beat the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV, Smith sat in the stands. He attended the game along with some Tennessee classmates, naturally envisioning he could one day play in the game.
“So this is amazing right now — just watching it from there to actually being part of it,” Smith said. “It’s two different things, and I’m so excited to be a part of it.”
Smith bypassed a question about the reason for his unexpected drop this weekend — a proverbial shrug of the shoulders — though the situation provided enough frustration that he plugged in some video games instead of watching pick by agonizing pick.
He did attend the re-imagined 2021 NFL Combine, purposed to offer teams medical evaluations. They offered no feedback that could have foreshadowed the long wait on draft weekend, he said.
“I’ve been in absolute perfect health, having a great time, no issues at all recently,” he said. “Obviously things are uncontrollable. But again, thank you to the Hunt family and the Chiefs organization for believing in me. I’m completely healthy. I’m ready to roll.”
Smith is seen as one of the more ready-to-play interior linemen prospects in the draft, given his extended experience in the country’s toughest football conference. But the Chiefs have transformed their line through free agency and trade acquisitions. Where they were once thin at guard, Smith now joins the thick of a battle for playing time. Joe Thuney and Kyle Long signed on. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif returns in 2021 after opting out of the 2020 season.
Smith is part of the mix.
“We rated him really high,” said Tim Terry, the Chiefs director of pro personnel. “He’s done almost everything you can possibly do in the SEC, which is a highly competitive division. So we’re excited.”