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Kansas City Chiefs 2015 roster prediction: Way too early edition

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Now that the 2015 NFL Draft has been completed and the undrafted free agent signings have begun, it's time for the far-too-early 53-man roster prediction for the Kansas City Chiefs.  Note: because the UDFAs are not official yet, we'll ignore them for the purposes of this post.

You can see the Chiefs current roster here and a prediction on how they fit in here.

Quick analysis: After a needs-based draft (or was it?) I see about 40 players that are "locks" to make the Chiefs 53-man roster, seven that are "near locks, and about six spots that are truly up for grabs in training camp (along with the 10 practice squad jobs).

Expect the Unexpected: Every year, there's a surprise veteran or two cut before the season, and every year an UDFA or two makes the team. And we all know that Dorsey loves to work the waiver wire at roster cut down time.

But, for today, let's take a brief look below at the roster as it's currently constructed with my thoughts and way-too-early predictions (translation: don't hold me to these). Please chime in on who you think could surprise us this year.

Offense (25)

Quarterback (3)

Locks: Alex Smith, Aaron Murray

Near Locks: Chase Daniel

Bubble: Tyler Bray (IR)

Prediction: Smith, Daniel, Murray

We all thought that Daniel was a possible cap casualty entering free agency, and that's still a possibility. However, the Chiefs, who just cut Terrelle Pryor, seem content at this point to keep the quality veteran and the promising second year player backing up Smith for one more year.

Running back / fullback (5)

Locks: Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, Anthony Sherman, De'Anthony Thomas

Near Locks: Cyrus Gray

Bubble: N/A

Long shots: Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware

Prediction: Charles, Davis, Sherman, DAT, Gray

I could see them upgrading from Gray, at least on offense, but it'd be hard to get a better special teams player than Gray, who was the quarterback of the special teams unit before his injury last season. Barring any free agent signings, that will keep him on the roster. I'm listing DAT here, though maybe he's playing more wide receiver?

Tight end (3)

Locks: Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris, James O'Shaughnessy

Near Locks: N/A

Bubble: Richard Gordon

Long shots: Adam Schiltz, Brandon Barden

Prediction: Kelce, Harris, O'Shaughnessey

Kelce is the rising star and Harris is the improving developmental player. O'Shaughnessy has a good chance to stick as the "new Harris." TE is a spot where I could see the Chiefs bringing in a veteran player, and/or having an UDFA make the squad for depth.

Wide receiver (5)

Locks: Jeremy Maclin, Albert Wilson, Jason Avant, Chris Conley

Near Locks: N/A

Bubble:  Da'Ron Brown, Junior Hemingway, Da'Rick Rogers

Long shots: Frankie Hammond, Armon Binns

Prediction: Maclin, Wilson, Avant, Conley, Hemingway

This is the first LEGIT competition on the roster. There are a lot of bodies competing for that fifth receiver spot. The Chiefs could also choose to keep six. Some things to consider: DAT could be listed here, and special teams will be a big factor for some of these players. Hemingway, for example, could keep his job for special teams alone, which would push Brown onto the practice squad (or Brown can prove himself on ST and push Hemingway off the roster). Rogers has the ability to climb up this depth chart, assuming he's got it all together now.

Offensive line (9)

Locks: Eric Fisher, Ben Grubbs, Eric Kush, Zach Fulton, Paul Fanaika, Mitch Morse, Jeff Allen

Near Locks: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Donald Stephenson

Bubble: Derek Sherrod, Ricky Henry

Long shots: Jarrod Pughsley, Curtis Feigt

Prediction: Starters: Fisher, Grubbs, Morse, Fulton, Allen; Backups: Fanaika, Kush, LDT and Stephenson.

I'm tempted to put Stephenson on the bubble here, as it appears he was out of favor with the team last season. But he'll begin the offseason work as the starter. This will also be a very good competition in camp where arguably three jobs are up for competition (C, RG, RT) and versatility will be key for depth.

Defense (25)

Defensive line (6)

Locks: Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey, Mike DeVito, Mike Catapano, Jaye Howard

Near Locks: Rakeem Nunez-Roches

Bubble: Nick Williams, Jerel Worthy, Vaughn Martin

Long shots: Hebron Fangupo

Prediction: Poe, Bailey, DeVito, Catapano, Howard, Nunez-Roches

Depth of this group should be improved with Catapano and DeVito coming back, and the addition of Nunez-Roches through the draft.  I could see Worthy or Williams pushing for a roster spot in camp, but otherwise this position is nearly set.

Outside linebacker (4)

Locks: Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Dee Ford

Near Locks: Josh Martin

Bubble:  Frank Zombo, Dezman Moses

Long shots: N/A

Prediction: Hali, Houston, Ford, Martin

This group appears to be set. Yes, I'm counting Houston as a lock now that the draft has passed and they are making "incremental progress" towards a deal. Zombo seems to be a guy they like so I could see him sticking around but there's no real competition otherwise.

Inside linebacker (5)

Locks: Derrick Johnson, Josh Mauga, Ramik Wilson

Near Locks: N/A

Bubble:  DJ Alexander, James-Michael Johnson

Long shots: N/A

Prediction: DJ, Mauga, Wilson, JMJ, Alexander

A big pre-draft need was addressed by adding Wilson and Alexander. While they weren't the names many fans knew, they both bring the skill-set and upside that was needed. JMJ could be the odd man out if they only keep four but I think he's a core special teams guy, so he stays in this prediction.

Safety (5)

Locks: Ron Parker, Tyvon Branch, Husain Abdullah

Near Locks: Eric Berry

Bubble:  Kelcie McCray, Sanders Commings, Daniel Sorensen

Long shots: N/A

Prediction: Parker, Branch, Abdullah, McCray, with Berry on NFI

The Chiefs invested in safety depth during free agency by adding Branch. He's a versatile player that should really help this unit improve. I won't count out Eric Berry until something official is announced but I'll predict that he at least starts the season on NFI.

Cornerback (5)

Locks: Sean Smith, Phillip Gaines, Marcus Peters, Steven Nelson

Near Locks: Jamell Fleming

Bubble:  Marcus Cooper

Long shots: Del Olatoye, Aaron Hester

Prediction: Smith, Gaines, Peters, Nelson, Fleming

The draft and UDFAs were very heavy on CBs. Peters and Nelson look like immediate contributors. They may keep an additional CB at least until Sean Smith is past his presumed suspension. This group should become a major strength and tone-setter for the defense.

Specialists (3)

Locks: Cairo Santos, Dustin Colquitt

Near Locks: N/A

Bubble:  Andrew East (reported UDFA), James Winchester

Long shots: N/A

Prediction: Santos, Colquitt, East

I have no idea who is going to win the epic long snapper Battle Royale in training camp but I can't wait to watch!  I'm predicting East at this point, even though his signing hasn't been confirmed by the team.

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