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Making an NFL team’s 53-man roster for the start of the season is incredibly challenging. Some spots are filled more for niche roles and experience, rather than just simply draft status or ability. Meanwhile, special teams can make certain position battles more intense, especially for the final depth pieces looking to make it. The Kansas City Chiefs are no different than other teams.
For instance, they find themselves having to make tough decisions in key spots. This team also underwent a massive amount of changes this offseason. As a result, the opportunities are there for the taking at many spots on the 53-man roster. Though, expectations may vary all across the depth chart, at the same time.
We have just a couple of days left until teams have to finalize their 53-man roster. We are going position by position, giving our best predictions of who will make the cut for the Chiefs in 2022. Practice squads will once again be maxed out at 16 players as well. In addition to the 53-man roster, we will also give our best bets at who may make it back to Kansas City as part of the practice squad. So far, we have completed 53-man roster predictions for seven positions on the roster. To read those, click on each position: QB, RB, WR, TE, OL, DL, LB
Next up, it is time for the defensive backs. Let’s kick it off.
Current Defensive Backs On Chiefs Roster
- L’Jarius Sneed
- Trent McDuffie
- Rashad Fenton
- Justin Reid
- Juan Thornhill
- Joshua Williams
- Jaylen Watson
- Dicaprio Bootle
- Bryan Cook
- Deon Bush
- Chris Lammons
- Nazeeh Johnson
- Devon Key
- Zayne Anderson
Spags Being Forced To Adapt
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The Kansas City Chiefs were able to bring in a great influx of rookie talent for 2022. In total, Kansas City made ten draft selections this past April. Seven of those were defensive players. Overall, the Chiefs added five rookies into their secondary for this season. This began in the first round with McDuffie. Johnson, a hybrid defensive back out of Marshall, was the final defensive back to be selected by the Chiefs.
Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has enjoyed different levels of success throughout his run as an NFL assistant. For the most part, his first three seasons as Chiefs defensive coordinator have been fruitful. In terms of scoring defense, his units have been in the top half of the league in the last few years.
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One thing that will be new for him this season, is the restacking of the defense with youth. Spags has been someone who is regarded as wanting to be patient with younger players. Though, he does not really have that option at his disposal this year. That is especially true in the secondary. But fortunately for Spagnuolo and the Chiefs, these rookies and new faces have already grown and made waves quickly during the offseason. The hype is there for these youthful KC defensive backs, despite some expected bumps and bruises along the way.
As we have mentioned, the Chiefs wanted to become faster and more physical as a defense this year. Opposing defenses have begun to utilize those attributes against the Kansas City offense. Now in 2022, this team is looking to give opponents a taste of their own medicine. That could be major for the Chiefs defense, given the abundance of young star quarterbacks and deep pass catching groups in the AFC.
Just in the secondary alone, Kansas City has added a unique blend of shapes and sizes. Let’s start with the rookies. Watson and Williams are imposing figures on the outside at the cornerback position. Williams can play that press man coverage that Spagnuolo loves to invoke. Meanwhile, Watson has already shown throughout the preseason that it will take a lot to outmuscle him one-on-one. Cook is built extremely dense and stout at the safety position. As a result, his mix of instincts and tenacity make him a perfect fit for today’s NFL. You then have the quickness, foot fire and change of direction skills of McDuffie, to boot.
Then you have to look at incoming veterans. Reid may be one of the more versatile safeties that Spagnuolo has ever had. What a replacement for the departed Tyrann Mathieu. For Reid, he makes a point to punish anyone that enters his area. We have also seen some booms laid by Bush during training camp and the preseason.
New Opportunities To Lead
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Expanding further on the Mathieu departure, Reid is now the top dog in the Chiefs secondary. He may speak to and through his team in a different way than the Honey Badger did. However, from the minute Reid came to Kansas City, he has been an encouraging and motivating presence for the younger defensive backs. His mix of physicality, versatility and instincts are a tremendous fit for the Spagnuolo defense that predicates on man coverage, disguising pressure and leaving cornerbacks on islands one-on-one. Possibly, Reid is just entering the prime of his career as he begins his Chiefs tenure.
Elsewhere, Thornhill enters the final year of his rookie deal. He will also have a new opportunity to lead in the secondary. But, Thornhill is entering a season where the pressure and expectations are much different than that of Reid. The Virginia product of course started out his Kansas City career with a bang as a rookie. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL at the end of that rookie season. It took a long time for Thornhill to get back to feeling 100 percent comfortable. Can he fully bounce back and produce at a higher clip in a season that could be make-or-break for his future with the Chiefs?
Last Few Spots Determined By Special Teams Ability?
The last few defensive backs to make the 53-man roster are likely going to have to contribute on special teams. Overall, Kansas City lost a fair share of players who were special teams stalwarts on last year’s roster. When looking at who may fill those spots in 2022, the Chiefs are likely going to have to count on veteran additions.
For instance, Bush has already made an impact in many areas on different special teams units during the preseason. He could be a reliable gunner, tackler and hitter all in one. Lammons has been someone who has held that title already. Given how much the Chiefs trust him, it would be somewhat surprising if Kansas City did not keep Lammons amid the roster crunch. With Anderson, he can play those special teams spots, as we saw last year. There were a few too many back-breaking mistakes by him that cost the team, however. Finally, more seasoning will likely be needed from guys like Johnson and Bootle. That goes for both defense and special teams abilities. In the end, we believe that both will be kept on the practice squad.
Cornerbacks: L’Jarius Sneed, Trent McDuffie, Rashad Fenton, Joshua Williams, Jaylen Watson, Chris Lammons
Safeties: Justin Reid, Juan Thornhill, Deon Bush, Bryan Cook
On The Practice Squad: Devon Key, Dicaprio Bootle, Nazeeh Johnson
Be on the lookout for our final FPC Chiefs 53-man roster prediction article tomorrow. For more great sports and NFL 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.
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