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Chiefs 53-man roster prediction + practice squad and roster bubble

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs-Minicamp Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: The Chiefs just traded LB DJ Alexander to the Seahawks for LB Kevin Pierre-Louis so that position group will be changing!

This week, training camp begins, and Brett Veach has assumed his post as GM. Let’s take another look at the roster and see what the Chiefs are working with, and what’s changed since the last edition.

(25) Offense

QB (3): Alex Smith, Tyler Bray, Patrick Mahomes

The Chiefs have a fantastic situation at quarterback for the first time ... well, ever. Smith is still the starter and Mahomes is the QBoTF that the organization and fans are excited about.

Out: Joel Stave

RB (3): Spencer Ware, Charcandrick West, Kareem Hunt

The draft pick most likely to help the Chiefs in 2017 is Kareem Hunt. The question is whether they will keep three or four backs. CJ Spiller has an outside shot at the roster, but for now I’m going to predict they go with three true backs on the roster, with Tyreek Hill and De’Anthony Thomas having the ability to line up in the backfield in some packages.

Out: Devine Redding, CJ Spiller

WR (6): Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley, Albert Wilson, Demarcus Robinson, Jehu Chesson, De’Anthony Thomas

The Chiefs surprised some of us with a trade up for a receiver in the draft then surprised us all by cutting Jeremy Maclin. Demarcus Robinson is the guy getting the attention and praise as a guy ready to contribute. Chesson is an interesting addition to the group with the size, blocking ability and catch radius that could allow him to stick around -- not to mention he can play on special teams. The bubble here consists of Wilson and DAT. Can anyone give the team a strong reason to replace them?

Out: Seantavius Jones, Jamari Staples, Gehrig Dieter, Alonzo Moore, Tony Stevens, Marcus Kemp, Tevin Jones

TE (4): Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris, Gavin Escobar, Ross Travis

We saw a move in this position group during the draft, but it was a subtraction, not an addition. James O’Shaughnessy is now a Patriot, and the tight end list has narrowed. It would seem that the Chiefs are counting on Gavin Escobar along with Ross Travis to provide depth.

Out: Orson Charles, Emmanuel Byrd

FB (1): 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.

Out: Nobody!

OL (8): Eric Fisher, Parker Ehinger, Mitch Morse, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Mitchell Schwartz, Zach Fulton, Bryan Witzmann, Andrew Tiller

Continuity is the name of the game with this offensive line. When Ehinger is healthy, the starting lineup is locked in for the foreseeable future. The questions are about the depth. I’d argue that a swing tackle is among the team’s biggest question marks right now. I’ll also go out on a limb and say that UDFA Damien Mama has a shot to make this roster. He looks like the ideal project to work with the strength and conditioning staff and be a future starter. The team also added Andrew Tiller, who can back up multiple positions, and extended Bryan Witzmann’s contract. Perhaps Fulton and/or Reid becomes a trade candidate before camp is over.

Out: Jah Reid, Mike Person, Isaiah Battle, Josh James, Joseph Cheek, Jordan Devey, Damien Mama, Corin Brooks

(25) Defense

NT (1): Bennie Logan

The addition of Logan pushes the need at nose tackle back another year. They passed on the position in the draft, so perhaps Cam Thomas (the Chiefs strongest player on Madden) has a shot to stick around?

Out: Montori Hughes, Cam Thomas

DE (5): Chris Jones, Allen Bailey, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Jarvis Jenkins, Tanoh Kpassagnon

The Chiefs clearly wanted a change at the defensive end position after releasing Jaye Howard and spending their second round pick on a high-upside guy in Kpassagnon. We will watch in camp to see if Tanoh looks lost, or if he starts to earn snaps. King and Jenkins will likely compete for the last defensive line roster spot.

Out: Ricky Ali’ifua, David King

OLB (5): Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Dee Ford, Frank Zombo, Dadi Nicolas

The Chiefs picked up Ford’s option, but didn’t draft a pass rusher. Many of us thought this was a position of need, but it seems the team will go forward with the same group as last year. Hali appears... motivated. He’ll try to prove that he has plenty left in the tank, while Ford and Houston attempt to recapture and build upon their success prior to their respective injuries. If Nicolas isn’t off of the PUP by the end of camp, there will be an open spot for competition.

Out: Earl Okine, Reshard Cliett, Marcus Rush

ILB (5): Ramik Wilson, D.J. Alexander, Derrick Johnson, Justin March-Lillard, Ukeme Eligwe, Josh Mauga

Lots of questions here: Will DJ be ready for the season? Will the young guys step up in a big way? The Chiefs drafted Eligwe as a high-upside, small school ILB with some athletic ability. He’ll likely start off on special teams. Perhaps that means that DJ Alexander will take on a bigger role on defense? (Real cool, Chiefs, make a trade right after this gets posted). Will the recent re-signing of Josh Mauga put the youth movement on the back burner for one more year?

Out: Terrance Smith, Josh Mauga, Kevin Pierre-Louis, DJ Alexander

S (4): Ron Parker, Eric Murray, Eric Berry, Daniel Sorensen

If any position on the roster is set it might be safety. Berry and Dirty Dan got big extensions, Parker is locked in as the guy that can do it all. Murray is the guy to watch in camp, we’ll see if he can take the next step and force his way onto the field. Solid group.

Out: Jordan Sterns, Trevon Hartfield

CB (5): Marcus Peters, Terrance Mitchell, Steven Nelson, Leon McQuay III, DeVante Bausby

Peters is a legitimate star and should continue his ascension to lockdown status. The argument about which corner should be opposite Peters is somewhat of a moot point. Mitchell and Nelson logged plenty of effective snaps last year, and appear poised to do the same this year. McQuay was a late round draft pick who played (mostly) safety in college, but it sounds like the Chiefs like his ability to play the nickel corner position. The activity around the corner position indicates that Gaines, Acker and White could now be on the bubble. I’ll take a shot in the dark and predict DeVante Bausby wins the final roster spot, but of course I’ll change my mind at some point.

Out: Phillip Gaines, D.J. White, Kenneth Acker, Vernon Harris, Ashton Lampkin, JR Nelson, Steven Terrell, Keith Baxter

(3) Special Teams

Cairo Santos, Dustin Colquitt, James Winchester

Winchester signed a new deal, 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 this offseason.

Prediction: (3) Santos, Colquitt, Winchester

(10) Practice Squad

CB Ashton Lampkin

CB JR Nelson

DL Ricky Ali’ifua

WR Gehrig Dieter

WR Alonzo Moore

WR Seantavius Jones

ILB Terrance Smith

S Jordan Sterns

OLB Marcus Rush

OL Damien Mama

On the initial roster bubble

RB CJ Spiller: He could make the team and contribute or be one of the first guys cut. Spiller is a complete wild card at the moment.

WR De’Anthony Thomas: DAT earned his keep last year by contributing on special teams. He might be the top kick returner and a good coverage guy — unless someone else steps up in St Joe.

WR Albert Wilson: Bert shows flashes of big play ability, but hasn’t consistently contributed. The rookie, Jehu Chesson, may force the Chiefs to make a decision on Wilson sooner rather than later.

TEs Demetrius Harris, Ross Travis: I believe the team likes Harris, but he hasn’t performed like a starter and has a possible suspension looming. Travis is likely the No. 4 tight end this season, but struggled when called upon in 2016.

TE Orson Charles: An athletic TE/FB type guy that I liked coming out of college. Charles could insert himself in the depth chart conversation with a strong showing in camp.

OL Zach Fulton and Jah Reid: When a team like KC builds through the draft, the veteran depth players are always at risk of being replaced by younger, cheaper options.

OL Mike Person, Andrew Tiller and Bryan Witzmann: The final offensive line spot will need versatility and will likely have plenty of competition.

ILBs Terrance Smith and Justin March-Lillard: I believe the Chiefs like their developmental inside ‘backers, but they added a rookie and re-signed Mauga, which puts these two back on the bubble.

CBs Phillip Gaines, Kenneth Acker and DJ White: The team continues to add corners and something has to give on the depth chart. The ability to stay on the field could be a deciding factor for a couple of these guys.

Bottom line

This is a very crowded roster, and there will be some really good players let go before the first game. It’s difficult to find needs but it’s also hard to imagine that the Chiefs are done. They’ll add players between now and the end of camp, and when other teams make their cuts after camp. One could see GM Brett Veach adding an experienced receiver or a cheaper and better swing tackle. For every new addition, there will be a talented guy let go. Good problems to have, for sure.

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