There’s a long way to go before the Kansas City Chiefs have to trim their 90-man roster down to 53 players. The draft is likely to change a lot with 10 picks for Chiefs GM John Dorsey to work with. The team usually finds an undrafted free agent or two (or three), and could still sign guys in free agency. The bottom of the roster could be churned, or expensive veterans could be replaced by promising rookies.
Let’s take a look at the Chiefs roster with a far-too-early prediction for the initial 53, and a few guys that could be on the bubble when this offseason process wraps up in August.
QB: Alex Smith, Tyler Bray, Joel Stave
It’s a safe bet that the Chiefs will go into the season with at least three QBs on the roster. I will say Smith and Bray are likely on the roster, but the third QB will come from the draft. They could also add a second drafted QB or a low-cost veteran for camp competition.
Prediction: (3) Smith, Bray and an early draft pick
RB: Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West, Darrin Reaves, CJ Spiller, Will Ratelle
Running back is another position that would be ideal for KC to add in the draft. This could be a historically good RB class with options for the Chiefs in each round. I would like to see them add another explosive home run hitter type back to go with West and Ware.
Prediction: (4) Ware, West, Reaves and a draft pick
WR: Jeremy Maclin, Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley, Albert Wilson, Demarcus Robinson, De’Anthony Thomas, Seantavius Jones
The first five are pretty safe bets to make the initial roster. Maclin and Hill are the playmakers here with Conley and Robinson developing behind them. Wilson was given a RFA tender but could be a candidate for replacement in the draft.
Prediction: (5) Maclin, Hill, Conley, Wilson, Robinson
TE: Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris, James O’Shaughnessy, Gavin Escobar, Ross Travis
Prediction: (4) Kelce, Harris, Shags, Escobar
FB: Anthony Sherman
Sherman took a pay cut to stay with the team. It’s a safe bet that he’s a Chief through the 2017 season. He’s a leader in the locker room and on special teams, but chronically underutilized on offense. It’s a hard life being a fullback in today’s NFL.
Prediction: (1) Sherman
OL: Eric Fisher, Parker Ehinger, Mitch Morse, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Mitchell Schwartz, Jah Reid, Zach Fulton, Mike Person, Isaiah Battle, Josh James, Bryan Witzmann, Joseph Cheek, Jordan Devey
They typically go into the season with at least eight or nine linemen, so there’s an opportunity to add depth here. I’ll pencil Person in for the eighth spot, but I could see anyone - other than the starting five - being upgraded before the season starts.
Prediction: (8) Fisher-Ehinger-Morse-LDT-Schwartz, Reid, Fulton, Person
NT: Bennie Logan, TJ Barnes, Montori Hughes
The addition of Logan pushes the need at nose tackle back another year. Don’t be surprised if the Chiefs draft a guy to develop for the future.
Prediction: (1) Logan
DE: Chris Jones, Allen Bailey, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Jarvis Jenkins, David King, Cory Johnson
Jones becomes the star of this group this year, if he wasn't already. The surprise cit of Jaye Howard leaves this group a little more in flux. In the short term, KC could re-sign Reyes, who visited recently, then add a draft pick for the long term.
Prediction: (5) Jones, Bailey, RNR, Jenkins, and a draft pick
OLB: Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Dee Ford, Frank Zombo, Dadi Nicolas, Victor Ochi, Earl Okine
One of the truest cliches in football: You can never have enough pass rushers. The Chiefs will have some interesting decisions coming up with this position group (Ford’s option, Hali’s decline, Houston’s contract). It could either be loaded with Ford now being a 10-plus sack per year guy, and Houston being healthy, Dadi developing and Hali as depth ... or some of those things don’t pan out and it remains a big need.
Prediction: (5) Houston, Hali, Ford, Zombo, Dadi
ILB: Ramik Wilson, D.J. Alexander, Derrick Johnson, Justin March-Lillard, Terrance Smith, Khaseem Greene
Lots of questions here: Will DJ be ready for the season? Will the young guys step up in a big way? Will the Chiefs invest an early draft pick in the position? Will they finally sign a veteran to help in the short term?
Prediction: (4) Wilson, DJ, DJA, March-Lillard
S: Ron Parker, Eric Murray, Eric Berry, Daniel Sorensen, Marqueston Huff, Julian Wilson, Jimmy Hall
Prediction: (4) Parker, Berry, Murray, Sorensen
CB: Marcus Peters, Terrance Mitchell, Phillip Gaines, Steven Nelson, D.J. White, Kenneth Acker, Vernon Harris
As with OLB, you can never rule out adding talent at the cornerback position in the draft. Peters is a genuine star, Nelson and Mitchell have earned playing time, but there is an opportunity to get better at CB.
Prediction: (6) Peters, Mitchell, Gaines, Nelson, White, Acker
(3) Special Teams
Cairo Santos, Dustin Colquitt, James Winchester
Winchester signed a new deal, but Colquitt is getting older and more expensive, and Santos is on a one-year tender. I doubt the Chiefs make a change here, but stranger things have happened.
Prediction: (3) Santos, Colquitt, Winchester
On the initial roster bubble
CJ Spiller, RB: He could make the team and contribute or be one of the first guys cut. Spiller is a complete wildcard at the moment.
De’Anthony Thomas, WR/KR: DAT earned his keep last year by contributing on special teams. He might be the top KR and a good coverage guy. He could also easily be pushed off the roster by a draft pick.
James O’Shaugnessey, TE: Shags is probably running short on chances to impress, and long on competition for a roster spot. Big season for him.
Ross Travis, TE: Same story as O’Shaughnessey, it’s going to be an uphill climb for Travis.
Demetrius Harris, TE: I believe the team likes Harris, but he hasn’t performed like a starter and has a possible suspension looming.
Mike Person, OL and Bryan Witzmann, OL: The final OL spot will need versatility and will likely have plenty of competition.
Victor Ochi, OLB: Might be a long shot, but he’s a guy I liked coming out of the draft, and there could be an opening for another pass rusher.
Terrance Smith, ILB and Justin March-Lillard, ILB: I believe the Chiefs like their developmental ILBs, but they could also add a rookie and / or a veteran, putting these two on the bubble.
Marqueston Huff, DB: Could be a sneaky good free agent signing. A safety that can and has played some CB and special teams, Huff has a shot.