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Chiefs training camp: I’m most looking forward to watching these three “lottery tickets”

Our own Kent Swanson loves watching players who could be a reach to make the 53-man roster.

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Tennessee Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve spent all summer talking about players on the fringe of continuing their professional football careers.

Players 54-90 on a training camp roster shouldn’t be considered an afterthought until their names appear on the waiver wire. Even then, players will still get multiple opportunities to continue the pursuit of their NFL dreams. The Chiefs kickstarted their rebuild in 2013 by making waiver wire claims on players like Ron Parker, Jaye Howard and Marcus Cooper. All three would go on to make significant impacts that season.

One of the best parts of the preseason is identifying standouts that you may not have expected. Sometimes, it’s an undrafted rookie free agent or a late-round pick. Other times it’s a cast-off from a previous organization’s draft that didn’t work out elsewhere due to injury or slow development. At the beginning of the 2016 season, there were 481 undrafted free agents on active rosters, per Adam Schefter. There is plenty of great stories of players coming out of nowhere to earn an opportunity and maximize it. That’s why the Lottery Tickets series is one of my favorite things to write.

There are three Lottery Tickets that we’ve already profiled that I’m most looking forward to watching in St. Joseph this year. All three have a chance to make the final 53-man roster. Just because they all went undrafted doesn’t mean they don’t have talent. When talent meets opportunity, you get a September surprise.

Darrel Williams, running back

Full profile here.

Williams signing on to join the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent created a three-headed monster of running backs named Williams on the Chiefs’ 90-man roster. The Chiefs gave Williams one of the largest ($30,000) guaranteed bonuses of the 2018 undrafted free agency market. They gave him significant incentives to join the team because there are significant financial incentives for the Chiefs if he is to earn an active roster spot.

The Chiefs could possibly move on from a player like Charcandrick West or, if he’s not healthy, Spencer Ware, and save a little under $2 million in the process. Having a player like Williams to step in and prove capable of handling carries at a cost-controlled rate would be an asset. What’s more is Williams would be under team control for two additional seasons after that. He would be one of two running backs under contract for the 2019 roster.

Arrion Springs, cornerback

Full profile here.

The re-built cornerback group in Kansas City should be one of the biggest storylines of the summer. Kendall Fuller, David Amerson and Tremon Smith join carryover Steven Nelson as locks to make the roster. There is a list of players competing for those final one or two spots at the position. The most intriguing of those is Arrion Springs.

While not the best athlete, Springs shows good football character, instincts and ability in man coverage. There is enough there that Springs could stick despite an average athletic profile. He’s someone I enjoy watching and a player that Kansas City would embrace.

Ryan Hunter, offensive guard

Full profile here.

The left guard position is the most unsettled spot on the Chiefs’ roster. The competition will be fascinating and I would not be surprised to see it go well into the preseason. One of the interesting names that showed up late in the competition during minicamp was Ryan Hunter, who apparently has received some first-team reps this offseason.

Should he make the 53, Hunter would be the second Canadian guard on the active roster, joining Dr. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. He was a top Canadian Football League draft prospect as a result of his eligibility. Hunter has the athleticism, versatility and experience (he started since his sophomore season) that could serve him well in his pursuit of the Chiefs’ active roster.

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