With their 27-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Thursday night, the Kansas City Chiefs wrapped up the preseason and now turn their attention to cutdown day on Saturday at 3 p.m. Arrowhead Time. I released my initial projection on June 21 and my second projection back on August 5.
Let’s find out what’s changed.
(Editor’s note: My projections are based upon things I’ve seen, heard and hypothesized.)
Quarterbacks (3): Patrick Mahomes, Matt Moore, Chad Henne
A previously-set position group changed shape over the past week or so thanks to would-be backup Chad Henne suffering a high ankle sprain and fracture and needing surgery. I think the Chiefs want to keep their options open for a potential late-season Henne return, which means he needs to make the initial 53-man roster before being placed on injured reserve. Kyle Shurmur wins the developmental battle and will join the practice squad on Sunday.
Running backs (3): Damien Williams, Darrel Williams, Darwin Thompson
As the preseason went on, we watched as Carlos Hyde was downgraded from a first-string player (when Damien Williams began training camp in the injury tent) to almost a certain cut (after he started the fourth preseason game against the Green Bay Packers). With the season-long injury to Lamar Miller, it seems obvious the Houston Texans may have interest in Hyde. I mentioned in my last piece that Hyde’s most significant obstacle to making the team might be offensive convert Tremon Smith, but now I’m not sure either player makes the team. I’d guess that rookie Darwin Thompson begins the season as the RB2 but may find his way to the starting role by the end of the season.
Fullback (1): Anthony Sherman
Andy Reid loves having a fullback on his roster, and Anthony Sherman is as reliable as it gets. By the way, have you seen his saUSAge shirts?
Wide receivers (6): Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, De’Anthony Thomas
The wide receiver group became a bit more interesting when Marcus Kemp tore his ACL, ending his season. The Chiefs brought back De’Anthony Thomas to fill the void left by Kemp on special teams, and for that reason, he should make the roster. I think Byron Pringle edges out Cody Thompson, who does earn a practice squad spot.
Tight ends: Travis Kelce, Blake Bell, Deon Yelder (3)
I mentioned in my last projection how Uncle Dave Toub loves The Belldozer because he managed to replace all of Demetrius Harris’ positions on special teams. And oddly enough, in the preseason, there were moments when he reminded me of Harris on offense, catching tough passes and dropping a few easy ones. Harris, now a Brown, led the Chiefs in special-teams snaps in 2018. Yelder has been dealing with a sprained ankle, but I don’t think it’s serious enough to push Nick Keizer ahead of him on the 53. Remember, when Harris couldn’t go Week 1 last year due to suspension, the Chiefs were fine rolling with two tight ends—Travis Kelce and Alex Ellis.
Offensive linemen (9): LT Eric Fisher, LG Andrew Wylie, C Austin Reiter, RG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, RT Mitch Schwartz, Cameron Erving, Jeff Allen, Nick Allegretti, Kahlil McKenzie
Cam Erving is the swing tackle that can play every position, and Nick Allegretti, who can also play guard, beats out Jimmy Murray for the backup center position. I toyed with kicking Kahlil McKenzie to the curb, but I’m not convinced general manager Brett Veach, who burned a roster spot all of last year to keep him, is willing to give up on his late-round passion project just yet.
Defensive linemen (9): Alex Okafor, Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Frank Clark, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Emmanuel Ogbah, Xavier Williams, Khalen Saunders, Justin Hamilton
Steve Spagnuolo has noted that he needs “a lot of big guys” who will rotate in along the defensive line, and he specifically mentioned no separation between Derrick Nnadi and Xavier Williams—I think it is another year of rotation for the two nose tackles. 2019 third-rounder Khalen Saunders will make the team but should be inactive most games, so Justin Hamilton helps to fill that void. I fear that Breeland Speaks will be added to IR, ending his year before it begins.
Linebackers (6): Damien Wilson, Reggie Ragland, Anthony Hitchens, Darron Lee, Ben Niemann, Dorian O’Daniel
Jerry Attaochu did everything he possibly could against the Green Bay Packers in order to make the team, starting at defensive end before moving to SAM linebacker. I think Dorian O’ Daniel’s knack for special teams holds Attaochu off, but perhaps the Chiefs can now flip him to another club for a cornerback. I didn’t have a single change from version one at the linebacker position. I think the Chiefs undoubtedly keep the top four linebackers on this list. The top three should be starters in the “base,” but we really don’t know what the in-season subpackages will look like. Spagnuolo has some tricks up his sleeve, including Ragland potentially playing a bit more at the SAM position than we initially thought he would at the beginning of training camp.
Cornerbacks (5): Kendall Fuller, Bashaud Breeland, Charvarius Ward, Rashad Fenton, D’Montre Wade
It is a toss-up between D’Montre Wade and Herb Miller, who both came into the fourth quarter of the Chiefs’ final preseason game, for who fills out the final cornerback spot. Neither looked particularly good, and Wade’s spot might be replaced by someone cut from another club. Rookie Rashad Fenton backs up Kendall Fuller at nickelback. Week 5 and Morris Claiborne cannot come soon enough.
Safeties (5): Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornhill, Daniel Sorensen, Armani Watts, Jordan Lucas
Jordan Lucas recorded the interception I needed to see to feel better about including him on the initial roster in the fourth preseason game. Unlike the cornerback position, the Chiefs are rather strong at the safety position.
PUP list: LB Darius Harris
K Harrison Butker, P Dustin Colquitt and LS James Winchester
Colquitt is the only possible question here, but he’s no doubt back. I could see Uncle Dave trying to convince Reid to keep Jack Fox on the practice squad.
Chiefs position quantities at the 53-man cutdown since 2013
Here’s a look at Chiefs position quantities throughout the years since Andy Reid took over the Chiefs in 2013. AP user Chiefwanka wrote a nice fan post analyzing historical position quantities.
Offensive position quantities since 2013
Defensive position quantities since 2013
*Eric Berry had a roster exemption at the 53-man roster cutdown in 2016 and was included in most cutdown listings.