Chiefs Post-Draft Roster Shakedown: Running Back

Is Jamaal Charles a #1 running back in the NFL? (via cache.daylife.com)

With the selection of Tennessee St. running back Javarris Williams in the 7th round of the NFL draft this past weekend, the Kansas City Chiefs added their sixth running back to the current roster.

If that seems like a lot of backs it's because it is. Dantrell Savage, an undrafted free agent in 2008, played sparingly as a return man before being relegated to the practice squad in November.

Jackie Battle, who didn't register a carry last year, is a special teams guy or a fullback at best.

So in reality, despite their listed positions, the Chiefs are really dealing with three main backs.

Here's how the depth chart is currently laid out:

1. Larry Johnson (6'1", 230 pounds)

2. Jamaal Charles (5'11", 199 pounds)

3. Kolby Smith (5'11", 219 pounds)

4. Jackie Battle (6'2", 238 pounds)

5. Dantrell Savage (5'8", 182 pounds)

6. Javarris Williams (5'10", 223 pounds)

What does the addition of Williams do to this group of players? Come September, the Chiefs will likely only have four running backs on the roster, with Williams or Battle battling it out with only one survivor.

Dantrell Savage's value to the Chiefs was in the return game but even then he was mediocre at best. The Chiefs' 6th round pick Quinten Lawrence, the 2009 version of KR Kevin Robinson, should easily take over whatever duties Savage was slated to be involved in.

The whole Chiefs running back centers around, of course, the fate of Larry Johnson. If you check out his player page, you'll see his name has come up a couple of times in the last few months around here.

If Larry stays in Kansas City, the top three on the depth chart will remain unchanged. As I've mentioned before, I would be surprised if the Chiefs retained Larry Johnson after successfully winning a grievance against him for a portion of his guaranteed salary. If LJ makes the Chiefs 53 man roster, that money is re-guaranteed. To do that would make little sense to me unless Pioli and Haley are willing to eat their words and pay the disgruntled running back the money they used a special master to get un-guaranteed.

We've talked a lot about Larry Johnson leaving and the ifs and whens about that. But what we haven't talked about specifically (at least on the front page) is how the Chiefs will coordinate their running game without LJ.

My question to you this afternoon is: What will happen to the Chiefs running game without Larry Johnson in the fold?

Is a Charles/Smith combo enough? Or will the Chiefs need to grab say, a veteran like Edgerrin James? Not James himself per se but another body at the running back spot.

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