There’s been a lot of discussion about ongoing offseason needs in Washington over the past few months, and the lion’s share of that conversation has centered around two position groups: offensive line and linebacker. This piece is intended to extend the dialogue around the former unit.
Like Nick Gates, Andrew Wylie originally made his way into the NFL as an undrafted free agent. In 2017, coming out of Eastern Michigan, he was picked up first by the Colts, then the Browns, then the Chargers, finally landing with the Chiefs in December of that year.
In 2018, Wylie played in all 16 games, and started ten of them, filling in for injured right guard Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. As a result of his impressive play, Wylie was named the Chiefs’ best first-year player that season. The next season, Wylie flipped to left guard, starting 11 games for the Chiefs before he went down with a high-ankle sprain, missing the tail end of the season, including the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory.
Andrew Wylie just obliterated Jordan Poyer on this screen block lmao pic.twitter.com/BzbcLwRQmx— Nick Akridge (@PFF_NickAkridge) October 19, 2020
Wylie was sent back over to right guard in 2020, where he started 14 games as the Chiefs made it back to the Super Bowl again. Many will recall that in advance of that game, both Chiefs’ tackles went down with injury. As a result, Wylie was pressed into service at right tackle, and had a fairly rough go of it against the Buccaneers as Patrick Mahomes ran for his life all night (pay particular attention to the bottom of the graphic below).
Andrew Wylie with a bounceback Super Bowl performance vs the dominant Eagles DL pic.twitter.com/YwqfjAqNtG— PFF (@PFF) February 13, 2023
In 2021, Wylie was again deployed at right tackle in 13 games for the Chiefs, starting seven, filling in for the recently drafted - and oft-injured - right tackle Lucas Niang.
At the end of the 2021 season, Wylie was viewed by some at Arrowhead Pride, the Chiefs SBNation site, as an “unsung hero” who helped lift the team to the AFC Championship game:
On this season’s completely rebuilt offensive line, Wylie — who has primarily played as a guard at the professional level — went from being a two-year starter to a backup. And then, with injuries to starter Lucas Niang and veteran backup Mike Remmers, he was called upon to play right tackle — the position to which he was infamously moved for Super Bowl LV, when he did not have his best game while protecting Mahomes.
Kansas City offensive line coach Andy Heck values Wylie for his versatility.
“Even before this year, he stepped in and started a bunch of games for us at left guard, at right guard, tackle [and] so on,” he told reporters on Thursday. “Then this year — same thing. He’s been ready to go at any one of those positions. We needed him at tackle — and then he stepped in.”
But for Heck, it doesn’t stop there.
“The other thing that Andrew brings — really — is an energy, a toughness. He’s a tough kid that loves football. He’s absolutely essential to what we’re doing here. Those kinds of unheralded guys that do the dirty work like that? That’s what it’s all about.”
Andrew Wylie has been an unsung hero of this 8-game winning streak.— Kristian Gumminger (@kgumminger) December 30, 2021
Here, Wylie does a great job with his initial punch. Completely stuns the pass rush plan and then squares up to stonewall the rest of the snap. pic.twitter.com/tqP4hTBCBl
This past season, Wylie started all 17 games at right tackle on a Chiefs team that went 14-3 and won the Super Bowl again. The opinions of Chiefs’ fans on Wylie seemed to be very up and down throughout the season, with occasional accusations that he was the “weakest link” on the Kansas City line. Despite that, Wylie persevered and quietly got his job done, protecting the best player in the league from some of the best players in the league.
I get why people think this but the Chiefs have effectively neutralized lots of elite pass rushers this year. Every other game preview is like “oh no, Andrew Wylie has to block Bosa/Crosby/Miller/Hendrickson!” And then it doesn’t really matter https://t.co/EDibE8St3h— Based and Ant-pilled (@smiley_moth) February 9, 2023
And, Wylie was an absolute beast when it mattered most last year. His “pressure surrendered” rate improved significantly as the season went on. During the regular season, he gave up pressure on 7.3% of his pass block snaps. That decreased to 5.4% in the Divisional and Conference Championship rounds. And, it culminated with a stifling 3.3% pressure rate in the Super Bowl, against the Eagles, where he was dominating.
Andrew Wylie quietly played the game of his life in Super Bowl LVII https://t.co/giHywLbFHO. I for one have always thought that Andrew Wylie was the weakest link on our offensive line. I take back everything now. Realize he has the potential to be great.— Stephen Young (@Stephen65230101) February 16, 2023
This offseason, Wylie was named “the most underrated free agent tackle” by ESPN:
Underrated: Andrew Wylie
2022 team: Chiefs | Age entering 2023 season: 29
There are quite a few players we could put in this spot: Cameron Fleming, Jermaine Eluemunor and Kelvin Beachum all are mediocre pass protectors who shouldn’t cost too much. I think Wylie’s reputation takes a hit from Patrick Mahomes holding the ball longer than average and inviting some pressure (knowing he can almost always avoid a sack). Pass block win rate, which simply measures if an offensive lineman sustains his block for 2.5 seconds, is a fan. Wylie ranked ninth in the metric last year, though it’s worth noting he was playing next to an elite interior offensive line. Still, Wylie can get the job done and should be available for cheap.
And, Washington signed him to a 3-year, $24M ($12M guaranteed) contract in the early days of free agency.
Wylie now joins - handpicked by his past and present offensive coordinator - a cobbled together offensive line where he will surely be counted upon to help translate Eric Bieniemy’s schemes and approach to his peers.
With a career potentially on the upswing and another year of experience at right tackle under his belt, the 28-year old Wylie could be preparing for his prime years in nation’s capital. Let’s hope so.
Do you think that Andrew Wylie will perform better, worse, or the same in Washington as he did in Kansas City?
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