Now that the Kansas City Chiefs roster cuts have been completed, let's take a look at each position group on the initial 53-man roster.
(3) QB: Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Aaron Murray, Tyler Bray*
No change in this group for 2015, which should be a good thing. Going into the third season with the same QBs, same coaching staff and same system, expectations are high. In preseason action, all three QBs performed well as evidenced by these cumulative QB grades from Pro Football Focus.
Kansas City Chiefs - Cumulative Passing under pressure
|Pressure||Drop-backs||Runs||Att.||Com.||Com. %||Yds||Yds / Att.||TD||INT||Sk||NFL QB Rating||Pff.com Rating|
|Plays under pressure||22||1||20||14||70.0||140||7.0||1||1||1||85.4||-0.9|
|When not blitzed||40||1||39||30||76.9||269||6.9||3||1||0||109.9||1.4|
Regardless of your personal opinion of Alex Smith, the overall +3.4 PFF rating and 120.6 QB rating numbers are encouraging. A stable group of QBs is a strength of this team and all three should be better than they were last year.
(4) RB / FB: Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, Charcandrick West, Anthony Sherman
Jamaal Charles is a special talent, and arguably THE best all-around back in the NFL. Charcandrick West made his case for the roster, and according to our own MNChiefsfan, should be making a case for the No. 2 RB job. Knile Davis is a controversial figure in KC, but he's an explosive player capable of taking it to the house on any given play or kick return. Sherman is the best FB in the league, and a stud on special teams.
This group is clearly a strength, and West should be an improvement over Cyrus Gray - at least on offense - so this group should be better than last year.
(4) TE: Travis Kelce, James O'Shaughnessy, Demetrius Harris, Brian Parker*
I'd contend that Kelce will be a top two TE in the league this year. After Kelce, things are much less certain. Shag showed promise in the preseason but he's a small-school rookie so we should temper expectations for him. The success of this group may hinge on Demetrius Harris, who is finally recovered from offseason foot surgery. However, coaches indicate it may be a few weeks before he's at full speed. Parker is a physically gifted rookie but is likely a project as well.
TE as a group has to be listed as a question mark, and potentially worse than last year. Even though there is a ton of upside at this position, there may be some growing pains on the field this season.
(6) WR: Jeremy Maclin, Albert Wilson, De'Anthony Thomas, Jason Avant, Chris Conley and Frankie Hammond, Jr.
Maclin is the headliner here as the biggest acquisition of the offseason. He's been everything the Chiefs hoped he would be thus far. Avant brings a steadying veteran presence and a reliable third down target that just knows how to get open and move the chains. You need a guy like that on the team when the rest of the WRs include a rookie and a pair of second year players who have a lot to prove on the field. Hammond made the team as a special teams specialist. If he sees a lot of snaps on offense, something has gone terribly wrong.
The upgrade of Maclin over Bowe appears to be massive, and there's a lot to like about the rest of this group. I'll call it a strength and improved over last year.
(8) OL: Donald Stephenson, Ben Grubbs, Mitch Morse, Jeff Allen, Eric Fisher, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Zach Fulton,
Paul Fanaika(placed on IR 9/9), Jah Reid*
*Signed last weekend
Much of the offseason has been focused on finding the "best five" and trying to improve this group over the 2014 version that surrendered 49 sacks. Eric Fisher appeared to be much improved before a sprained ankle cost him most of the preseason and put his status for Week 1 in question. Ben Grubbs, acquired for a fifth round pick, might represent the largest upgrade on the team (or any team) if compared against the LGs who lined up here last season. Mitch Morse took the starting center job from Eric Kush early on, and hasn't let go.
Finding the "right" RG and RT have been the real challenge for the Chiefs thus far. Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson were the presumed starters before the surprise announcement. However, Allen is recovering from injury and may not be ready for the Texans. LDT was inconsistent in preseason action, but Coach Andy Reid recently said he's "one of the best five" at this point, and indicated that he will start (at least until Allen is ready)
Stephenson has played very well at LT in the preseason, perhaps the best of his career. I did argue that LT may be his best position. The coaching staff clearly agreed, and felt strongly enough about Stephenson as the LT, they moved Fisher to RT. I firmly believe that this is more about fielding the best starting 5 possible, not about any "failure" or "bust" in regards to Fisher. FIsher is now much stronger and more physical than he was in his prior seasons, which would, in theory, translate well to the right side. We'll see if Stephenson at LT and Fisher at RT makes the line better as a whole.
Zach Fulton may have secured his roster spot against St Louis by playing Center, and by most accounts, playing well. Jah Reid is a big veteran that has experience at multiple positions.
I tend to believe this group will be improved over last year's version, because of the addition of Grubbs, and the improvement of Fisher and Stephenson. But, until the full starting lineup is able to play together and show improvement, the OL will remain the biggest question mark on the team.
(6) DL: Dontari Poe, Mike DeVito, Allen Bailey, Jaye Howard, Nick Williams, Rakeem Nunez-Roches
With all-world NT Dontari Poe on the mend, an improved Allen Bailey and Jaye Howard along with a healthy Mike Devito, defensive line should be among the best position groups on the 2015 Chiefs. The surprise of the roster cuts was letting physical freak Mike Catapano go in favor of Williams and Nunez-Roches. I'm was holding out hope that we haven't seen the last of Catapano, but I can see the versatility of Williams and upside of RNR that earned them roster spots.
This is clearly a strength, and an improved group over last season.
(9) LBs: Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Dee Ford, Derrick Johnson, Josh Mauga, Ramik Wilson, Frank Zombo, DJ Alexander, Dezman Moses (cut, resigned)
The Chiefs will line up an impressive group of linebackers once again in 2015, including 3 All-Pro caliber players (Houston, Hali and Johnson). The question mark continues to be at SILB. Josh Mauga received a sizeable contract extension after an up-and-down 2014 season, and spend much of the preseason injured. Rookie Ramik Wilson has certainly made his case during thus far, and many fans are calling for him to be the starter. Dee Ford still has some work to do, but the Chiefs should look to use him as a pass rushing specialist in 2015. Zombo is a versatile player, with ability to line up at ILB as well, and is a mainstay on Special Teams.
Obvious strength of the team that should be improved over last season, now that DJ is healthy and there is competition at SILB.
(10) DBs: Sean Smith (suspended), Phillip Gaines, Marcus Peters, Ron Parker, Husain Abdullah, Eric Berry, Tyvon Branch, Jamell Fleming, Steven Nelson, Marcus Cooper, Daniel Sorensen
The defensive backfield has been a focus of John Dorsey's tenure with the Chiefs. This group has been completely turned over with the exception of Eric Berry. Berry's return is the greatest story in all of sports right now, and should be talked about much more than it is. Sean Smith is coming off of a career year, and heading into a suspension. Picking up the slack while he's gone will be a young group of CBs featuring an improved Phillip Gaines and promising 1st round pick Marcus Peters.
The safeties appear to be insanely deep for the Chiefs this season, as evidenced by the fact that the Chiefs lined up 2 former Pro Bowl players as backups in the preseason (Branch and Berry) and were able to flip their 5th/6th safety to the world champion "legion of boom" for a 5th round pick.
No question this is a strength of the team, and an improvement over 2014.
(3) Specialists: Cairo Santos, Dustin Colquitt, James Winchester
Colquitt is among the best punters in the league, but his partners on special teams are each a question mark.
Cairo Santos started poorly as a rookie after taking over for Ryan Succop, but went on to have a good 2014 season. He did miss an extra point this preseason, which alarmed many of us as fans. Winchester won the long snapper battle of the century this preseason, but is a relative unknown. (then again, all long snappers not named Kendall Gammon are unknowns)
Special teams are a question mark, but should at least be about the same as the 2014 group with Dave Toub in charge.
With a couple of surprises today and through the roster cut down process, I've had to edit this post... and I'm sure tomorrow's news will change things once again. There's a reason it's the "initial 53" and not the "final 53".
We've attempted to categorize each as "strength, weakness or question mark" and "better, worse or same" as last year.
QB: Strength, Better
RB: Strength, Better
TE: Question Mark, Worse
WR: Strength, Better
OL: Question Mark, Better
DL: Strength, Better
LB: Strength, Better
DB: Strength, Better
Specialists: Question Mark, Same