With the beginning of the season nearing, rosters will need to be trimmed down this weekend. As a result, we will try and predict what the 53 man roster will look like for the Kansas City Chiefs.
Unlike most years, there was no preseason for some of the bubble players to compete in. We have seen certain players use that opportunity to boost there chances of making the roster, including the Kansas City Chiefs. Coaches and general managers obviously have confidence in certain players. However, others are getting judged simply off of practice and training camp. Now, let’s get things started, by looking into the Kansas City offense.
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There is no question at the top, as Patrick Mahomes is fresh off a Super Bowl win and Super Bowl MVP. Not to mention, he just earned the largest contract in sports history ($500 million). There were some injuries that Mahomes dealt with last season. But, we saw him make great strides in forming his physical shape from 2018 to 2019. His work ethic probably increased a bit more, after ankle and knee injuries last season.
There are plenty of roster questions behind Mahomes. They have generally liked Chad Henne in the past. Though, it feels like he may be the odd man out. Jordan Ta’amu has traits that the team and Andy Reid covet. Maybe they can groom him into a backup. Of course, Matt Moore helped keep Kansas City alive during the middle of last year when Mahomes was injured.
They generally like to keep two quarterbacks. Due to a different dynamic this offseason, I think they go with three this season.
QB: Mahomes, Moore, Ta’amu
Rookie back Clyde Edwards-Helaire was already garnering plenty of hype. After the decision of Damien Williams to opt out, that hype continued to grow and grow. Rightfully so, as CEH has a great mix of balance, vision and dual threat ability. The Kansas City Chiefs have big plans for him in this high powered offense. Expect him to take most reps as the starter.
Behind the rookie, there is a good mix of tough running and underrated receiving ability. Both DeAndre Washington and Darrel Williams have a knack for running through and embracing contact. At the same time, their speed can be forgotten about, if they reach the open field. Based off of what we heard from training camp, these two should seem comfortable in making the Kansas City Chiefs roster.
It’s assumed that they will go with a fourth running back for depth at this position. Between Darwin Thompson and Elijah McGuire, it feels like a true coin flip. McGuire had a strong camp. His style is somewhat similar to that of Washington and Williams. On the other hand, Thompson was just drafted last year. He can make an impact on special teams, if he is not pounding the rock. Teams do not often wave the white flag so early on recent draft picks, even late round guys. However, it feels like that may happen with Thompson.
Anthony Sherman will also continue to assume his role as the fullback, special teamer and locker room leader.
RB: Edwards-Helaire, Washington, Williams, McGuire
This is a really difficult position to make decisions on. Clearly, we know who is going to garner most of the snaps as the starters. Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman and Demarcus Robinson all hold major parts of the offense. We saw Robinson have a strong showing at training camp, and his blocking on the outside is generally noticeable. Many also expect a breakout sophomore campaign for Hardman.
Elsewhere, it feels like the Kansas City Chiefs have at least nine guys who could argue for a roster spot. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that they carry more than six or seven. If you cannot find much playing time on the offense, having special teams skills is critical for a team like the Chiefs. That makes a very good case for Marcus Kemp. He had a promising preseason last year, before ultimately suffering a torn ACL. He’s healthy, ready to go and can help the team in a multitude of ways.
The last spot for me, comes down to Byron Pringle, Gehrig Dieter or Jody Fortson. Fans are excited about what Fortson has done in camp. If he continues to grow and learn on the practice squad, Fortson could potentially make an impact down the road. But right now, Pringle’s ability on special teams and as a pass catcher early last season stick out more.
WR: Hill, Watkins, Hardman, Robinson, Pringle, Kemp
Travis Kelce just received a favorable contract extension, which likely keeps him with Kansas City until the potential end of his career. He enters 2020, having amassed 1,000 yards in four consecutive seasons. Kelce is the only tight end in NFL history to achieve that feat.
Behind him, there is a new veteran addition in the form of Ricky Seals-Jones. Based off of his sneaky long speed and versatility, he is viewed as a perfect fit in Coach Reid’s offense. Not to mention, the TE2 position has hardly produced any bright spots the last few years. Seals-Jones has an opportunity to easily top those recent TE2 campaigns.
Finally, Deon Yelder and Nick Keizer are neck and neck for the final tight end spot. The Kansas City Chiefs have reportedly really liked what they have seen from Keizer. On the flip side, Yelder has struggled to stay healthy, namely during last season. Those combinations appear to favor the younger Keizer.
TE: Kelce, Seals-Jones, Keizer
Besides arguably the best right tackle in the league, Mitchell Schwartz, there are a plethora of questions surrounding the big boys up front.
At left tackle, Eric Fisher was essential when healthy last season. The team never lost when he was in the lineup. Certain aspects, like injuries and salary, make this a very intriguing season for Fisher. If need be, the Kansas City Chiefs can open up some cap space by moving on from him after the season. Surely, Fisher can still prove that he is worth keeping as well.
The interior faces many questions, like durability and performance, for example. Veteran Kelechi Osemele appears fit to lockdown one of the guard spots. His addition could prove to be an outstanding late summer addition by season’s end.
Besides that, it is anyone’s guess on who starts at the other two spots. Austin Reiter played all season at center last year. He will need to perform much better this season to stay there, though. Others like Nick Allegretti, Martinas Rankin, Mike Remmers and Daniel Kilgore can all add versatility to multiple positions across the offensive line.
OL: Schwartz, Fisher, Osemele, Allegretti, Rankin, Reiter, Remmers, Kilgore, Senat, Williams
This unit has provided surprisingly good depth, than what was perceived prior to training camp. Frank Clark and Chris Jones are of course the two big dogs up front. Meanwhile, there is some extra swagger brought to the defense in the likes of Alex Okafor, Mike Pennel and Tanoh Kpassagnon. All three provided tough, physical play when the team needed it last year.
Unfortunately for Pennel, he will be out the first two games, due to a suspension. This will potentially allow more reps on the inside for Derrick Nnadi and Khalen Saunders. Saunders really came on late last year, after hitting the proverbial rookie wall early in the season. Both he and Nnadi can provide pocket pressure and admirable run defense.
Taco Charlton is looking for a career resurgence. His fit in Steve Spagnuolo‘s scheme is interesting, if he can put it all together as a backup defensive end. Spags can likely supply Charlton with a good number of designed pressures, when rotating onto the field.
To me, the last spot comes down to Breeland Speaks and Mike Danna. Speaks has gotten himself into better physical shape. He has the ability to lineup on the end or inside. But, so does the rookie Danna. The Michigan product was featured strongly at training camp. That, combined with a possible special teams role, may give him the edge over Speaks.
DL: Clark, Jones, Nnadi, Okafor, Pennel, Saunders, Kpassagnon, Charlton, Danna
Similar to the tight end group, this is pretty short and sweet. There is not much depth at linebacker, and the roles are pretty much defined.
The starting duo of Anthony Hitchens and Damien Wilson are looking to continue their hot stretch from late last season. Both showed up well in the playoffs, but may have gone unnoticed. Wilson’s ability to blitz is a nice crutch to fall back on for Spagnuolo.
Rookie Willie Gay Jr has quickly turned heads at training camp. And apparently, he is doing everything at a rapid pace. Gay Jr’s coverage ability is what really stood out when he joined the Kansas City Chiefs. Additionally, there is possible sideline to sideline range and downhill thumping ability.
LB: Hitchens, Wilson, Gay Jr, Niemann, O’Daniel
Due to the Bashaud Breeland four game suspension, he will not be counted as part of the active roster until October. Therefore, opportunities await for potential depth pieces. We will project nine defensive backs to make the roster for Week One, which clearly will not feature Breeland.
The campaign Charvarius Ward had last season was especially important for the defensive turnaround. His nose for the football and instincts of where is he positioned on the field standout. Ward will likely be joined at cornerback by Rashad Fenton and rookie L’Jarius Sneed for most reps.
Fenton and Sneed are two guys that the Kansas City Chiefs are super high on. They both possess a good blend of physical coverage and speed.
Safeties Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill were dominant all season last year. Thornhill is still working his way back from that ACL tear, so the team may be cautious with him early on. As a result, that opens the door for veterans Daniel Sorensen, Tedric Thompson and Adrian Colbert. All three can play multiple positions on defense and have needed experience.
The final spot goes to newcomer Antonio Hamilton. If he does not see the field much on defense, that may be just as well. Why? Hamilton graded out as one of the more consistent players across the league on special teams. His speed, tackling ability and possible kick return ability all set up well in the Kansas City Chiefs system.
DB: Mathieu, Ward, Fenton, Thornhill, Sneed, Sorensen, Thompson, Colbert, Hamilton
The Final Three
Specialists: Harrison Butker (kicker), Tommy Townsend (punter), James Winchester (long snapper)
Follow along on Saturday, to see who the Kansas City Chiefs keep or cut when assembling the roster. Believe it or not, we are just under a week away from opening night to kickoff the season. For upcoming content, stay tuned to Full Press Coverage.
– Braden Holecek is the Kansas City Chiefs managing editor for Full Press Coverage. He covers the NFL. Like and follow on Follow @ebearcat9//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js Follow @FPC_Chiefs//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js and Facebook.