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Kansas City Chiefs 53-man roster prediction: Preseason edition

The Chiefs are past the halfway point of training camp on the even of their first preseason game, and it would appear that the roster is beginning to take shape.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Let's predict the Kansas City Chiefs 53-man roster before the first preseason game in Arizona on Saturday. Before we do that, here are a few links you might need for this:

Chiefs current roster

Chiefs current depth chart

Our last 53-man roster projection

Quick count: about 40 players are "locks" to make the Chiefs 53-man roster, eight that are "near locks, and about five spots that are truly up for grabs in training camp (along with the 10 practice squad jobs). Of course, Chiefs GM John Dorsey will surely surprise us and cut a near lock or keep someone we thought was gone.

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.

Offense (25)

Quarterback (3)

Locks: Alex Smith, Aaron Murray

Near Locks: Chase Daniel

Bubble: Tyler Bray (IR?)

Prediction: Smith, Daniel, Murray

After the Geno Smith news came out, we wondered if the Chiefs could trade Chase Daniel to the Jets. It doesn't appear that will happen (hey, who knows) but the Chiefs do like Daniel. He has done what's asked of him in his two starts. He enters the final year of his contract, which is partially what makes me wonder about a trade. As for Bray, he still isn't practicing so the Chiefs need to find an injury list for him to stay on or cut him loose. Can't see them keeping four quarterbacks.

Running back / fullback (4)

Locks: Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, Anthony Sherman

Near Locks: Charcandrick West

Bubble: N/A

Long shots: Spencer Ware

Prediction: Charles, Davis, Sherman, West

West replaces the recently cut Cyrus Gray. West has really earned his roster spot thus far in camp showing a well-rounded skill set. He seems primed to make the roster.

Tight end (3)

Locks: Travis Kelce, James O'Shaughnessy

Near Locks: Demetrius Harris

Bubble: Richard Gordon, Ryan Taylor

Long shots: Adam Schiltz

Prediction: Kelce, Harris, O'Shaughnessey

Kelce has done nothing to slow down his own hype train. O'Shaughnessey has impressed the coaches in camp with consistent improvement. Harris has yet to see the field so if he's unable to get healthy Gordon or Taylor would have a good shot at making the roster. There's also the possibility that the Chiefs bring in another veteran free agent tight end but O'Shaughnessy's play may deem that unnecessary.

Wide receiver (6)

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

Near Locks: N/A

Bubble: Da'Ron Brown, Junior Hemingway, Kenny Cook, Frankie Hammond, Jr., Fred Williams

Long shots: L'Damian Washington, Donatella Luckett, Jeret Smith

Prediction: Maclin, Wilson, Avant, Conley, DAT, Hammond

There are a lot of guys who have a serious shot at the sixth WR spot. After OTAs, it seemed like Cook had a shot but Hammond has been building his case in St. Joseph. L'Damian Washington has showed some promise but he got into camp late and is coming off a serious injury. Hemingway and Williams are two of the other main contenders for that spot.

Offensive line (9)

Locks: Eric Fisher, Ben Grubbs, Zach Fulton, Mitch MorseJeff Allen

Near Locks: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Donald Stephenson, Eric Kush, Paul Fanaika

Bubble: Jarrod Pughsley, Derek Sherrod

Long shots: Tavon Rooks, Marcus Reed

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

The locks are the current starting offensive line. That was different two weeks ago so let's be patient in how this line shakes out. The Chiefs could keep a third tackle (not counting Jeff Allen as a tackle) and Pughsley is ahead of Sherrod on the field. LDT and Stephenson would be solid backups so they're very likely to make it. Fanaika started camp on the third team but has moved his way up to the second team. Joel thinks he's on the bubble while stagdsp thinks he's a near lock. The Chiefs kept Kush on the roster the last two years as a backup so they will probably keep him again if he doesn't start but a backup center is always on the bubble.

Defense (25)

Defensive line (6)

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

Near Locks: Rakeem Nunez-Roches

Bubble: Nick Williams, Vaughn Martin

Long shots: Hebron Fangupo, Charles Taau, David Irving

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

Even with Poe's injury, this may be the position group I'm most excited about. After seeing the sheer athletic ability and size of Catapano, Howard and Bailey, it's clear that this will (literally) be a strength of this Chiefs team. One more guy, such as Williams or Martin, could make the roster while Poe is out.

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

Two Pro Bowl pass rushers and a first round pick with a lightning quick first step ... yeah, The Chiefs are in good shape at OLB. The backups will be key on special teams, which is why you can't count out a guy like Frank Zombo, who can also play inside.

Inside linebacker (5)

Locks: Derrick Johnson, Josh Mauga, Ramik Wilson

Near Locks: DJ Alexander

Bubble:  James-Michael Johnson, Justin March

Long shots: N/A

Prediction: DJ, Mauga, Wilson, March, Alexander

JMJ has been a staple on special teams, and saw significant action last year after both starters were injured. But Justin March has been catching everyone's eye at camp so I'll pencil him in for the last ILB spot.

Safety (5)

Locks: Ron Parker, Husain Abdullah, Eric Berry

Near Locks: Tyvon Branch

Bubble: Kelcie McCray, Sanders Commings, Daniel Sorensen

Long shots: N/A

Prediction: Parker, Branch, Abdullah, McCray, Berry

The greatest story in all of sports is the return of Eric Berry. This position group is now among the best in the league. The only real question is: who gets the final spot? The oft-injured Commings, or one of the guys who has proven themselves on special teams? This will help be decided in camp.

Cornerback (5)

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

Near Locks: Jamell Fleming

Bubble:  Marcus Cooper

Long shots: Del Olatoye, Aaron Hester, Kenneth Penny, Kevin Short

Prediction: Smith (suspended), Gaines, Peters, Nelson, Fleming, Cooper

Smith's suspension will open up a roster spot for at least three weeks, which we give to Cooper here. Note that in camp when Smith was out, the Chiefs put Peters and Fleming on the outside with Gaines in the slot. So we will put Fleming ahead of Cooper here if it comes down to it. Peters and Nelson look like immediate contributors.

Specialists (3)

Locks: Cairo Santos, Dustin Colquitt

Near Locks: N/A

Bubble: Andrew East, James Winchester

Long shots: N/A

Prediction: Santos, Colquitt, East

I'm predicting East at this point even though I have little to no basis for the decision. Toub insists it's too close to call right now.

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