My first 53-man roster prediction of the season for the Kansas City Chiefs. I did this list off the top of my head to begin with then started to match up the numbers. My initial guess was pretty close to what I ended up with here.
This is obviously guaranteed to be wrong, probably by the end of the week once you factor in injuries and other roster moves. So take it for what it's worth -- a complete guess a month before the Chiefs have to actually make these decisions. The Chiefs 90-man roster will be cut down to 75 on August 26 and to 53 on August 30.
Find the Chiefs 2014 depth chart here.
My weakest spot is factoring in special teams. It's hard to determine which players have an edge on special teams because it's not featured in practice as routinely as the offense vs. defense. There is usually a surprise or two in the secondary or linebackers for special teams purposes.
Here are the others I struggled with:
*Keeping four quarterbacks
*Albert Wilson over Frankie Hammond
*The swing tackle
*How to handle Sanders Commings injury
*A sixth defensive lineman
*The kicker battle
The other big thing to remember here is that the Chiefs are probably going to be adding free agents who are cut by other teams. Last year, the Chiefs cut down to 53 players then added a whopping seven players on the first waiver wire. You try taking seven players off of a 53-man roster. That's a lot. They don't have the No. 1 spot on the waiver wire this year so don't expect that much but there will be additional moves made.
The Chiefs roster is getting stronger. There are a few good players I had to leave off of my list.
The first preseason game -- in less than a week, by the way -- will tell us a lot more.
QB (4): Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray, Aaron Murray
I don't know how to pick the Chiefs quarterbacks (yeah, I'm really starting off with a bang here). It feels like it would be a surprise if they kept four since Andy Reid historically hasn't done that. It would also feel like a surprise if any of these quarterbacks were cut. Absent predicting an injury (and a trip to IR thus ending the debate), I'll say the Chiefs keep four quarterbacks. I'm in the minority with this pick -- 76 percent of our readers say the Chiefs will not keep four quarterbacks.
RB (4): Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, De'Anthony Thomas, Anthony Sherman
DAT has worked with the running backs throughout camp. Though he's motioned out to receiver, the majority of his work is at running back. This is where I wish Joe McKnight was healthy. He could be a good candidate here. I could see the Chiefs keeping another between-the-tackles runner, too. Cyrus Gray? is firmly on the roster bubble.
WR (6): Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Junior Hemingway, AJ Jenkins, Kyle Williams, Albert Wilson
I keep coming back to Hammond and Albert Wilson. Both have played well enough at times to merit a roster spot. If you asked me this question tomorrow I could have a different answer -- I see it being that close. For the moment, I defer to the depth chart, where Wilson is ahead of Hammond. I'm also getting more confident that Kyle Williams makes the roster. He looks healthy and has made some nice plays during camp.
TE (3): Anthony Fasano, Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris
This seems pretty straightforward. I will note that Richard Gordon had a few nice touchdown recently. Harris's upside is probably too high to pass on him after a year in the system.
OT (3): Eric Fisher, Donald Stephenson, Ryan Harris
I've gone back and forth between Harris, J'Marcus Webb and even Jeff Linkenbach (whom the Chiefs list as a guard). So Harris is a total guess. You could make a reasonable case for any of those three to end up the swing tackle. For now, I stick with Harris while understanding his injury history and keeping the other two on call. Also of interest is Ryan McKee, who briefly saw some first team snaps this offseason.
OG (3): Jeff Allen, Zach Fulton, Jeff Linkenbach
In emergency situations, Allen can line up in a few spots, including tackle. Fulton and Rishaw Johnson are competing for a starting job but Fulton wins it (or possibly has already won it). I waffled on Johnson vs. Linkenbach but Linkenbach offers more at tackle, too. Sixth round pick Laurent Duvernay-Tardif heads to the practice squad instead. One name to keep an eye on is Ricky Henry, who recently saw some first team snaps with Allen moving around the line. He's one of those guys who could mix this depth chart up.
C (2): Rodney Hudson, Eric Kush
Hudson is entering the final year of his deal so Kush stays on as his replacement in 2015.
DE (4): Mike DeVito, Allen Bailey, Mike Catapano, Vance Walker
Four guys that rotate in and out. At least three of the four can handle passing downs. The defensive line could have a nice rotation this year. There are a number of others in the competition so it wouldn't surprise me to see another one make this list but I'm not sure who that is.
NT (2): Dontari Poe, Kyle Love
This is another position I'm iffy about (OK, I'm iffy about all of them). I need another (two?) linemen after Poe. I'm not sold on Love but he seems like the best option vs. the competition. Jaye Howard (listed as a DE) was kept on the active roster all last year despite not playing much so the Chiefs like something about him. He was one of the players signed the weekend before the season. Vance Walker can line up in the nose in subpackages, too. That could save a roster spot.
OLB (5): Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Dee Ford, Frank Zombo, Josh Martin
If the Chiefs keep four outside linebackers, Zombo and Martin will be battling it out. Hali recently had some nice words on Martin. I feel good about these players but if I'm looking to cut from a position group, this would get a second look.
ILB (4): Derrick Johnson, Joe Mays, Josh Mauga, James-Michael Johnson
I was struggling between Josh Mauga and Nico Johnson. The Chiefs depth chart, which listed Mauga ahead of him, breaks the tie for me.
CB (5): Marcus Cooper, Ron Parker, Sean Smith, Phillip Gaines, Chris Owens
I'm not sure about the order but I feel fairly confident in all five of these guys making the roster. Cooper, Parker and Smith are your top three corners. Owens can play the slot. Gaines is a third round pick.
S (5): Eric Berry, Husain Abdullah, Malcolm Bronson, Steve Gregory, Sanders Commings
A few things here.. 1.) No Jerron McMillian, who seems to have a shot to make it. His spot is affected by 2.) what to do with Commings, who had surgery. Here I predict the Chiefs use the IR-designated to return on him -- they can do so on September 2, three days after the final cut down -- as they did last year and see his return in November, three months after his injury. That gets McMillian on the roster a few days after cut downs when Commings' roster spot opens. 3.) Steve Gregory over Daniel Sorensen. I'm going with the vet but I really like Sorensen and think he'll somehow make his way onto the roster at some point. (Update: Of course three hours after I post this Sorensen goes out and has two picks at Chiefs camp on Monday.)
SPECIAL TEAMS (3)
P (1): Dustin Colquitt
K (1): Ryan Succop
Maybe I just hate change. I don't know. A total gut feeling. I'm going with Succop.
LS (1): Thomas Gafford
Best damn long snapper in the league.