It’s been an eventful offseason to say the least. Roster cuts are now only days away, and the Chiefs have to get from 90 to 53 in one big flurry of moves. Before the real fun starts, let’s lock in our final predictions for the Chiefs 53-man roster.
QB (3): Alex Smith, Patrick Mahomes, Tyler Bray
Don’t call it a competition. It’s decided. Smith and Mahomes are locked in and should push each other to be better this season, as Mahomes prepares to take over in 2018.
Out: Joel Stave
RB (3): Kareem Hunt, CJ Spiller, Charcandrick West
The running back competition has been fun to watch, especially in the second preseason game where they racked up over 200 yards on the ground. Each has looked impressive at times forcing the Chiefs to make a difficult decision.
Out: Devine Redding, Spencer Ware (IR)
WR (6): Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley, Jehu Chesson, De’Anthony Thomas, Albert Wilson, Seantavius Jones
I’d argue that there are just two locks: Hill and Conley and three near-locks: DAT, Wilson and Chesson. I’m assuming they’ll keep six receivers total, so there’s one spot for the rest of the group. Robinson was the minicamp favorite, Jones was the training camp favorite, and Kemp is the preseason favorite. It really could be any of the three.
Out: Demarcus Robinson, Jamari Staples, Gehrig Dieter, Alonzo Moore, Tony Stevens, Marcus Kemp, Tevin Jones, Robert Wheelwright
TE (4): Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris, Ross Travis, Gavin Escobar
Harris seems to have re-asserted himself as the second tight end. So, the questions then become: do you keep three or four? And do you want a receiver or blocker as backup(s)? The Chiefs backup tight ends in this scenario are exclusively receivers - neither is much of a blocker at all at this point. Something to watch.
Out: Orson Charles
FB (1): Anthony Sherman
I feel like Sherman has gotten some additional work on offense this preseason. Hopefully, they keep him involved in the regular season because he can help. We know Dave Toub loves him on special teams and as a leader.
OL (8): Eric Fisher, Parker Ehinger, Mitch Morse, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Mitchell Schwartz, Bryan Witzmann, Zach Fulton, Cameron Erving
Parker Ehinger is making his return from PUP, and hopefully will be working back into his starting spot. Assuming that happens, Witzmann becomes a valuable backup that can step in at guard or tackle. Fulton is the backup center and guard. Tiller rounds out the group as another guy that can play multiple jobs. I am still concerned about the backup tackle position, so I could see an addition here during cut downs this weekend. *Breaking news- Chiefs trade for Cam Erving, a guy that can play all 5 spots.
Out: Andrew Tiller, Jah Reid, Mike Person, Isaiah Battle, Josh James, Joseph Cheek, Jordan Devey, Damien Mama, Corin Brooks
NT (2): Bennie Logan, Roy Miller
Bennie Logan looks like the real deal and a potential upgrade, at least to the run defense. Roy Miller hasn’t been on the field much yet, and RNR has shown the ability to play inside at NT, so it’s still possible that Miller is on the bubble.
Out: Cam Thomas
DE (5): Chris Jones, Allen Bailey, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Jarvis Jenkins
Perhaps the best position group on the team, the athleticism and disruption that the Chiefs front brings is fun to watch. Jarvis Jenkins is the last one on the roster from this list, so he’s the name to watch this weekend. The others are stone cold locks.
Out: Ricky Ali’ifua, David King, Maurice Swain
OLB (4): Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Dee Ford, Frank Zombo
Ford and Houston seem to be rounding into form, and Hali is resting up for the regular season. The most exciting development of the group is returning Houston, who is among the best outside linebackers when healthy. The other development to watch is Kpassagnon’s ability to play outside at times. As he works his way onto the field this season, he could be fun to watch. #TeamGiantEdge Earl Okine is making his case, along with Marcus Rush, but this is a crowded group already, and both have uphill battles.
Out: Earl Okine, Marcus Rush, Reshard Cliett (IR), Dadi Nicolas (PUP)
ILB (5):Derrick Johnson, Ramik Wilson, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Ukeme Eligwe, Reggie Ragland
This has turned from a position of weakness to one with some intriguing options. KPL and Eligwe have both impressed in camp and secured their respective spots. The trade for Reggie Ragland and cut of Josh Mauga likely cements this group.
Out: Terrance Smith, Justin March-Lillard, Josh Mauga (cut 8/28)
S (4): Eric Berry, Ron Parker, Daniel Sorensen, Eric Murray
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: Leon McQuay III, Jordan Sterns, Trevon Hartfield
CB (5): Marcus Peters, Steven Nelson, Terrance Mitchell, Phillip Gaines, 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. The Chiefs interest in Joe Haden is one thing that could change this group, stay tuned!
Out: D.J. White, Kenneth Acker, Vernon Harris, JR Nelson, Steven Terrell, Ashton Lampkin (IR), Keith Baxter (IR), Jacoby Glenn, Larry Scott
(3) Special Teams
Cairo Santos, Dustin Colquitt, James Winchester
The specialists are set, once Santos is healthy enough to kick.
Out: Sam Ficken
(10) Practice Squad
CB JR Nelson
DL Ricky Ali’ifua
WR Gehrig Dieter
WR Marcus Kemp
WR Tevin Jones
ILB Terrance Smith
OLB Earl Okine
OL Damien Mama
DB Leon McQuay III
WR Demarcus Robinson
On the roster bubble
TE Ross Travis: Travis is likely the No. 4 tight end this season, but struggled when called upon in 2016, if the team has seen enough from Charles or Escobar, they could move on from Travis.
TE Orson Charles: An athletic TE/FB type guy that I liked coming out of college. Charles appears to be running out of chances to impress the team and win a job.
TE Gavin Escobar: Terrific hands for the position, with a huge catch radius, Escobar has the tools to be a target on this offense. He hasn’t been able to stand out much at all, and was running with the third team in preseason games.
OL 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. When veterans perform as poorly as the backup offensive tackles, the decision should be much easier.
OL Mike Person, Andrew Tiller, Jordan Devey: The final offensive line spot will need versatility and will likely have plenty of competition. Each of these guys can play across the interior of the line, along with Zach Fulton. All three could be shown the door in favor of a guy that can cover the swing tackle position.
ILBs Terrance Smith and Justin March-Lillard: I believe the Chiefs like their developmental inside ‘backers, which used to be these two, but now include Eligwe, KPL and Ragland. I’d assume Smith and March-Lillard are cut this week, but I’ve been wrong before.
CBs Phillip Gaines, Kenneth Acker and DJ White: the last couple of defensive back slots could be up for grabs. None of these guys has really shined in the preseason, but they appear to be in the mix.
This week’s game is an opportunity for the final 3-5 guys to win jobs on the initial 53 man roster, keep an eye on who is playing and who isn’t. Much has already been decided, but there may be a guy who really stands out and wins (or loses) a job based on their performance vs the Titans. Brett Veach’s first roster cutdown period will be exciting to watch, we’ll see if he’s able to churn a few spots and improve. Then it’s on to the regular season with high expectations for this deep, talented roster.