“I just play like there’s no tomorrow": Kingsley Suamataia’s path to becoming one of the top offensive tackles in the 2024 NFL Draft

Kingsley Suamataia was born to pancake defensive linemen, and he has had his skills sharpened by one of the best in the professional game. 

His cousin, Penei Sewell, plays right tackle for the Detroit Lions and was the league’s 10th-highest-graded offensive tackle this past season (80.6). And he taught Suamataia everything he knew while the two were growing up in Utah. 

“He trained me from when I was in junior high to now,” Suamataia said in an exclusive interview with PFF. “It’s good getting work from him and just seeing stuff that he sees so I could pick up on that stuff, too.”

A five-star recruit coming out of high school, Suamataia followed in Sewell’s footsteps to Oregon. But after playing just one game in his true freshman season, he decided he needed a fresh start. He entered the transfer portal and eventually landed at BYU.

“It was a no-brainer for me, but it took a lot of thought, prayers and talking with my family. I just needed to come home, be around my family and my religion. Be around stuff that I value, and this was the school for that. So I knew I had to come back home.”

As a redshirt freshman, Suamataia started for the Cougars at right tackle and excelled in pass protection, earning an 80.9 pass-blocking grade. Across 337 pass-block snaps, he didn’t allow a sack and surrendered only three hits.

Season Pass-blocking snaps Sacks Hits Hurries
2022 361 0 3 8
2021 4 0 0 0

The 6-foot-6, 315-pound tackle thrives in pass protection and especially enjoys the chess match he gets to play against defenders.

“I like seeing what the defensive linemen can come up with,” Suamataia said. “It’s a mind game. ‘I do this; you do that. If I do this, what are you going to do?’ It’s cool playing games with them.”

He’s no stranger to destroying defenders in the run game, either, having finished the 2022 season with three big-time blocks (PFF’s highest-graded blocks). But in that role, Suamataia is not as concerned with psychological warfare.

“Run-blocking is just who has the nuts to drive the person in front of them,” he said. “I gotta let the little guys know that it’s not a joke around here.”

It’s that all-around skill set that makes him not only one of the best offensive tackles in college football but also one who could hear his name called in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

He went 30th overall in my way-too-early mock and is widely regarded as a top-25 prospect. While many prospects ignore that hype, Suamataia pays attention to it purely for motivation.

“I look once, and I just focus on who’s ahead of me,” he said. “I’ve seen the tackle from Penn State (Olu Fashanu), the tackle from Notre Dame (Joe Alt) and the one from Alabama (JC Latham). It means more to me. Every workout I do, every recovery I do, I’m just trying to be the best.”

This upcoming season, Suamataia will replace former left tackle Blake Freeland, who was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts in the fourth round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Despite flipping sides, he feels very comfortable in the new role.

“There’s not much of a difference for me at left tackle because I was a left tackle growing up,” he said. “Right tackle was different for me. I can play anywhere, honestly. Throw me at guard. Throw me at center.” 

Suamataia already has the frame and athleticism required to be an elite tackle prospect. But what truly makes him one is the attitude he learned from his older cousin, Sewell.

“I watched him from when I was little,” he said. “Once he crosses that line, he’s a whole different person.”

It’s that mindset that Suamataia believes sets him apart from other tackles in college football.

“Everyone has work ethic, but just the heart,” he said. “I just play like there’s no tomorrow. I have a lot of family that rely on me. So, each game means something to me. It’s something that’s inside of me. Once I cross those white lines, I’m locked in. There are no jokes, nothing. It’s just me versus you.”

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