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Our predictions for the Chiefs top position battles remaining

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As roster cuts begin to come in, the Chiefs still have a few positions unsettled and probably will until the final cuts down to 53 come on Saturday. Keep an eye on who makes the 53, who passes through waivers to the practice squad, and what players from other teams might be of interest.

Fourth RB: Knile Davis and Darrin Reaves

After Jamaal Charles, Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware there is MAYBE one RB job open, or maybe they just roll with these three plus Anthony Sherman on the active roster.

In Saturday’s game with the Bears, Reaves got some first team snaps, and extensive work with the second team. Knile Davis was pushed down a notch on the depth chart at kick returner as well, while Tyreek Hill took over the primary returner jobs. This could spell bad news for Knile, whom many of us assumed would not be be on the roster. It’s not looking good for the former Razorback.

Darrin Reaves has been one of the stars of the preseason. Working mostly with the backups, he’s shown a tough running style with some burst. I’m sure the Chiefs would like to keep him. The problem for Reaves? Three studs in front of him. There’s basically zero chance he passes Charles, Ware or West on the depth chart, so his only real hope is that the Chiefs could decide to keep four RBs on the 53 man roster. And then it would just be Reaves vs. Knile for that final spot.

Prediction: Neither makes it. The Chiefs only carry three RBs on the active roster. They try to get Reaves through waivers onto the practice squad, and do their best to trade Knile before cutting him.

Bonus prediction: Anthony Sherman makes the roster. Everyone is looking for a surprise cut but look elsewhere. Sherman is a leader and special teams contributor as well as a more than capable fullback.

OLB depth: Dee Ford, Frank Zombo, Dadi Nicolas, Dezman Moses, Andy Mulumba, Jonathan Massaquoi

After Justin Houston and Tamba Hali there are 2-3 spots available for these six guys to win.

The hope has always been that Dee Ford would take the step forward and be the man, with or without Hali and Houston on the field. However, it would appear that he hasn’t improved enough to convince anyone that he’s arrived. Ford still shows the same limitations that have caused him to struggle throughout his short NFL career.

Dadi Nicolas has been the talk of the preseason games thus far. He’s brought a high level of energy to each snap, and displayed the athletic ability and pass rushing techniques that could translate into a long-term starter at OLB. Essentially, (so far) he’s doing what we all hoped Ford would do.

Dezman Moses is another guy who has flashed a bit in preseason just as he did last year. He looks like a player that could contribute if called upon. Zombo and Mulumba have been quiet so far this preseason. Zombo will very likely make the roster as a steady veteran that helps on special teams, but the others need a big splash to earn a job.

Jonathan Massaquoi has already been cut.

Prediction: Ford, Nicholas and Zombo make the roster. My guess is that Ford will continue to get more playing time but fans will want to see more of Dadi. This is one position where the Chiefs could take a look at players released from other teams, unless we get a positive surprise from Justin Houston.

WR depth: Rod Streater, Tyreek Hill, Frankie Hammond, Demarcus Robinson, De’Anthony Thomas, Da’Ron Brown, Mitch Matthews, Seantavius Jones, Kashif Moore, Mike Williams

Chris Conley and Albert Wilson are locks along with Jeremy Maclin, so, it’s safe to assume they’ll keep 3 or 4 more WRs from the group above. That question is an important one though... will they keep a 7th WR?

Crowded group here. It’s safe to assume they’ll keep Hill and Robinson -- both are promising rookie draft picks. Rod Streater has been a consistent performer in camp. It seems to me that the position group is now set with the top six receivers.

Frankie Hammond has found a way to make the roster each year. He might just be a player that the coaches value more than fans do.

Prediction: the WRs are: Maclin, Conley, Streater, Wilson, Hill, Robinson. The rest get cut, other than DAT who could still be a trade candidate.

Backup QB: Nick Foles, Kevin Hogan, Tyler Bray, Aaron Murray

Behind Alex Smith, things are getting a bit more clear. We can assume (safely?) they’ll keep three QBs on the 53.

Foles was brought in to be the veteran backup, and nothing that’s happened so far should change that assumption. He’s looked fairly steady in preseason action as he works his way through the playbook.

Bray seems to be the developmental QB as he was given a small contract extension last year, and entered the offseason as the No. 2 behind Alex Smith.

Aaron Murray has struggled with high passes and ball security thus far, so his roster spot could be in real jeopardy. Kevin Hogan is a promising mid-round pick in his rookie season, but has lost reps to the guys ahead of him.

Prediction: Smith, Foles, Bray are the 3 QBs on the roster, and the Chiefs try to stash Hogan and / or Murray on the practice squad or IR.

TE depth: Ross Travis, James O’Shaughnessy, Brian Parker

Kelce is the man, and Harris is the No. 2. After them, there’s a bit of a battle. They’ll keep 3-4 TEs total, so there are 1-2 jobs up for grabs.

Travis has been one of the stars of camp, with his basketball athleticism and receiving ability. Shags is coming off of an injury and just starting to move better. Parker is thought to be the stronger blocker, but has struggled with drops this preseason.

Prediction: Kelce, Harris and Travis make the roster, and the Chiefs hope O’Shaughnessy makes it to the practice squad.

ILB depth: Justin March, Terrance Smith, Ramik Wilson, Tyrell Adams, Josh Mauga, DJ Alexander

DJ is among the league’s best, but Chiefs fans have been desperately hoping for the right guy to play the “Mike” position (SILB) for years. I think DJ Alexander has secured his roster spot with his special teams play, so there are 2-3 jobs available.

Looking at the official (unofficial) depth chart SHOULD give us a hint as to how the team sees each of the players and their role.

LILB (WILB or Will)

Derrick Johnson

D.J. Alexander

Justin March

Terrance Smith

RILB (SILB or Mike)

Josh Mauga

Ramik Wilson

Tyrell Adams

That said, Justin March has recently been working on the Strong Side in place of an injured Josh Mauga. It could be that March has a real chance to start instead of Mauga. Or it could be that the team wants him to have reps at both positions to be a more valuable backup. It’s a situation to monitor in the final preseason game.

Smith and Adams have a chance to make the practice squad.

Prediction: DJ, Justin March, DJ Alexander, Josh Mauga, Ramik Wilson make the roster, and much to fan’s disappointment, Mauga is the starter once he returns from injury. March is an up and coming player who could be a factor as the season goes on.

The final defensive back: Marcus Cooper, Jamell Fleming, Kenneth Acker, Brock Vereen, Jeron Johnson

We’ll assume the team keeps 10 defensive backs, and that the following are securely on the roster: Eric Berry, Ron Parker, Marcus Peters, Phillip Gaines, Steven Nelson, DJ White, Eric Murray, Daniel Sorensen and KeiVaraeRussell. That leaves one final job available.

When the Chiefs traded for Kenneth Acker during the game this past week, it may not have seemed like an important move given the low compensation of a 2018 seventh round pick. For Marcus Cooper and Jemell Fleming, it could have dramatically changed their employment situation.

Both Cooper and Fleming were reportedly making the position switch from CB to S this offseason with Cooper seeing more corner time in camp. Both would be competing for special teams jobs at the bottom of the list of defensive backs for the Chiefs. Acker is an outside CB that is known to be a very good special teams player, so it would seem the three guys are competing for one spot.

It’s a safe bet that the guy they just traded a draft pick for is the favorite to land the final roster spot. That could leave Cooper and Fleming on the outside looking in. I listed Russell on the list above, because he’s been invisible in camp thus far according to reports I’ve seen. Still it would be a massive surprise and disappointment if he didn’t make the roster.

Prediction: Kenneth Acker took the final roster spot. Cooper and Fleming move on to new teams.