With the first round of roster cuts coming up, it's time to really start looking at who we think makes the team this year. Most of the starters are pretty much set in stone, but there are a lot of backup spots that are still up for grabs. And as the preseason has progressed, I think some of those battles have shaped up in ways a lot of us didn't expect.
While I don't think there are going to be any monumental cuts to guys we thought were sure to make the team, there are probably a few surprises in store for us. And there are bound to be disappointments for a lot of fans. So here is my projection of what our 53 man roster, and practice squad, will look like on Day 1 of the 2013 NFL season.
QB: Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray - No real surprise here. Smith is the starter, Daniel the #2, and Bray is the guy we will all be hyping up as the future despite him never throwing a pass this season. Stanzi may have had a chance to keep his job, but he's been underwhelming on the field and no longer has the benefit of upside in his favor anymore.
RB: Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, Shaun Draughn - Charles isn't about to lose his job anytime soon. Davis has been up and down this preseason, but he's going to make the team. Don't know that he's a lock for the #2 spot though because his hands have been an issue. Draughn, once again, looks to make this team because he simply plays harder than everyone else. Some folks might be surprised that Cyrus Gray doesn't make my list (sorry MN), but the truth is that Gray has not played well at all.
FB: Anthony Sherman, - Sherman makes the roster with Wilson likely finding his way to the Practice Squad. Sherman was brought in for Special Teams, but he's the best option as the starting FB too. It took Vonta Leach forever to find a job, so it's doubtful anyone would poach a backup FB who hasn't played at all.
WR: Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, AJ Jenkins, Dexter McCluster, Junior Hemmingway, Jamar Newsome, Rico Richardson - This is going to be a young unit for us. However, there is a lot of potential there. Bowe is locked in as the #1 guy. Avery put up an impressive performance that will hopefully shut his critics up for a minute or two. Jenkins will make this team, just remains to be seen what he does with that. And we're all still waiting to see if this is the year that someone figures out how to use McCluster properly. Hemmingway, Newsome, and Richardson have all shown something at one point or another this preseason. Some folks will be upset that Wylie isn't on here, but what does he offer that we don't have? McCluster is the better PR, and Wylie has been far too inconsistent as a WR.
TE: Anthony Fasano, Travis Kelce, Tony Moeaki - Easily our deepest position. Moeaki is fully capable of being a starter (as long as he's healthy), and we've got him running with the backups. Kelce has tons of potential, we just need him to put it together. Fasano has been, by far, our most reliable receiving target this preseason.
OT: Branden Albert, Eric Fisher, Donald Stephenson - Not a bad situation at all. Albert is an above average LT (at least). Fisher has the talent, but needs to learn the NFL and his new position. Donald Stephenson has played very well this preseason and could be making himself into the heir-apparent for that LT spot.
OG: Jon Asamoah, Jeff Allen, Geoff Schwartz - I'm hoping this last game helped people understand that Schwartz is a great backup, but not someone you want starting all the time. He's great depth, and having him fill in won't kill us. We just don't want to have to rely on him. Asamoah has been playing pretty well so far. And, though it's still not where it needs to be, Allen's play has improved from last year.
C: Rodney Hudson, Eric Kush - Hudson hasn't been as good as we had all hoped, but he's met with some pretty big setbacks early in his career. As this line spends more time working together, I expect it to gel, but Hudson will have to show that he can handle the mental aspect of that C position. Kush is likely to see the inactive list most of the year.
DE: Tyson Jackson, Mike DeVito, Allen Bailey, Mike Catapano, Anthony Toribio -The Chiefs don't have any superstars at DE, but Jackson and DeVito are capable. What remains to be seen is whether or not our backups can produce. Some folks might be looking for Marcus Dixon and Austen Lane, but I haven't seen anything on the field that says they belong on the 53 man roster.
DT: Dontari Poe, Jerrell Powe -This spot was pretty cut and dry. Poe seems to be learning how to use his speed and strength at the NFL level. Powe is turning into a quality backup who can make a play every now and again.
OLB: Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Frank Zombo, Edgar Jones - I'm feeling better and better about this area. We know what we have with Hali and Houston, so no need to get into that. Zombo has shown flashes of his former self, and as long as he's just used in that backup role, he should be fine. Jones has been an unheralded animal in the past couple of games. He hasn't scored a lot of tackles, but he always seems to be in on the play and around the ball.
ILB: Derrick Johnson, Nico Johnson, Akeem Jordan, Orie Lemon - This group is set up just about as well as TE is for the offense. DJ is still a stud. The spot we were all worried about has been a battle...and for a good reason. Jordan has certainly exceeded my expectations thus far. He seems to have found his niche in that SILB role. However, Nico Johnson has been equally impressive. He's already the clear captain of the 2nd team in our preseason games, and he has been a very sure tackler thus far. Diles is an underrated veteran who should be solid as a backup and Lemon has flashed some talent, so that came down to a toss-up with Lemon winning out because of his youth.
CB: Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith, Dunta Robinson, Jalil Brown, Sanders Commings -The top 3 on this list were no brainers. We all knew they were making this team from the get go. Brown has struggled some in pass coverage, but he is a Special Teams ACE. I can't think of anyone I've seen that covers punts as well as he does. Sanders Commings falls into an interesting spot. His injury isn't season ending, so IR is probably not in play. However, missing this much of the season means that he is unlikely to make the move to S this year. So I expect him to be that last CB spot for us.
S: Eric Berry, Kendrick Lewis, Hussain Abdullah, Quintin Demps, Tysyn Hartman - Depth is not a problem at the S position this year. Gone are the days of Sabby Piscitelli and John McGraw. Berry is an elite talent with a wide array of skills. Despite all the huffing and puffing early on this offseason, AP hasn't had anything negative to say about Lewis since the Chiefs started playing this preseason. In fact, teams seem to rarely throw the ball his way. Abdullah has shown that his journey to Mecca hasn't affected his game. His versatility is allowing the Chiefs to use a lot of different looks. Demps is a ST player who has shown he can have an impact. As long as he isn't used too much on defense, I think he'll be good for us. Hartman is a tough player. He sticks his nose in there and looks for contact.
K: Ryan Succop - No competition? No problem. He's been accurate thus far...and am I the only one who has noticed that he seems to be just crushing the ball every time he kicks it? I don't remember him launching the ball through the back of the endzone in the past.
P: Dustin Colquitt - Another case of no competition needed. He's the best punter in the league and a valuable asset to have. It's good to have a guy who is strong enough to be a decisive piece in the field position game, but also accurate enough to place the ball inside the 20 (if not closer to the endzone).
LS: Thomas Gafford - This competition got wrapped up earlier this week when Brad Madison was given his walking papers. It's good to see that our core ST players are good enough that we don't need to push them year in and year out.
Miguel Chavis - He had a solid training camp, but nothing in the preseason games has warranted him a spot on the 53 man roster.
Demetrius Harris - We all know why he's here. Great athletic talent, but it doesn't matter if he can't do it with the pads on. After what we've seen in the games, I'm no longer worried about him getting poached.
Tyler Shoemaker - Or any other rookie WR you like. Our WR corps is hardly set in stone, so at least one guy will get on the PS.
Otha Foster - He's shown some ability to make plays, but hasn't actually made them yet. That makes him the perfect candidate for the PS.
Braden Wilson - As I said above, if Vonta Leach is taking forever to get a job, then the chances of a backup FB with no real playing time thus far getting poached are slim to none.
Toben Opurum - He could very well end up being the best FB on our roster. He hits and has some pretty good athleticism. Maybe a candidate to turn into a short yardage back...or maybe see if he can flip around and play defense.
Ridge Wilson - Chiefs are still looking for pass rushers. Wilson is a guy who was forgotten about after getting dismissed from Kentucky, but he's got some talent.
Matt Reynolds - I find it hard to believe that the Chiefs won't want to keep at least one OT or OG on the PS. Reynolds is the likely candidate because of his connection to Andy Reid.