Hello, Chiefs Kingdom! I have one question; what constitutes a successful NFL season? Winning the Super Bowl, of course! With Mahomes and Reid, anything less is a letdown. So in that spirit, I have decided to compare the 2022 Chiefs day one roster with the last Chiefs squad to win it all in 2019. I did this last year, and now I'm giving it another go-hopefully another year wiser!
Note: This projection only compares the DAY ONE rosters of each team. Injuries and trades happen, so it would be unfair to put the squad that ultimately played in Super Bowl up against the one that will debut this weekend. With that out of the way, lets go!
2019: Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, Matt Moore
2022: Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, Shane Buchele
Mahomes is still Mahomes; what else is there to say? Henne is back and average as ever! Lastly, I think Matt Moore is probably a better backup than Buchele - at least this season - but not enough to really move the needle.
2019: Damien Williams, Anthony Sherman, LeSean McCoy, Darrel Williams, Darwin Thompson, Tremon Smith
2022: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Michael Burton, Jerick McKinnon, Ronald Jones, Isaiah Pacheco
Ayyyy its out first position with 100% turnover! All in all, this group is close. I wish I felt comfortable saying that Clyde is a better RB than peak Damien Williams, but at this point he just hasn't shown it yet. However, the depth is improved; RoJo is better than Darrel (at least at actually RUNNING the ball), and I think McKinnon has more to offer at this point in his career than Shady did in 2019. Isaiah Pacheco has more potential than Darwin ever did.
P.S.; remember when we tried Tremon Smith out as a returner? Fun times!
2019: Travis Kelce, Blake Bell, Deon Yelder
2022: Travis Kelce, (Blake Bell) Jody Fortson, Noah Gray
Although its fair to worry about Kelce finally taking a step back, in the words of a great American poet; "I'll see it when I believe it." Bell is on IR but should return soon, so it felt wrong not to list him. The real improvement here comes in the form of Jody Fortson and Noah Gray. Fortson in particular looks like a secret weapon.
2019: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, Deanthony Thomas
2022: Juju Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Mecole Hardman, Skyy Moore, Justin Watson
Here's where the controversy starts. I'm sorry folks, but you can't simply lose a once-in-a-generation, Hall of Fame talent and improve at that position group. Furthermore, I'm not sold on the guys we brought in to replace him. MVS only broke 600 yards ONCE when he was catching passes from Aaron Rodgers, and I have yet to hear a convincing explanation why things will be different here. I like JuJu more than MVS, but lets be honest; he has a bit of an injury history and hasn't been an impact player for over three seasons. I LOVE Skyy Moore as a prospect, but rookie receivers sometimes take a while to make an impact and Andy runs a famously complicated offense.
Mecole is back.
Furthermore, I think people are underrating the supporting talent we had in 2019. Sammy was often injured (kind of like...Juju? Sorry), and Byron Pringle had his moments with us. I will take Justin Watson over Deanthony Thomas tho, so at least there's that!
2019: Mitchell Schwartz, LDT, Austin Reiter, Andrew Wylie, Eric Fisher, Cam Erving, Ryan Hunter, Nick Allegretti, Martinas Rankin, Jeff Allen
2022: Orlando Brown, Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith, Andrew Wylie, Nick Allegretti, Geron Christian, Prince Tega Wanogho, Darian Kinnard
This one may also irk some people. What can I say, I love controversy! Lets start with the tackles. OBJ is about the same overall talent level as Eric Fisher, despite a vastly different skillset. However, the team seriously downgraded when it lost Schwartz. Remember what I said about losing a Hall of Fame player? That applies here too, even if Mitch never got the attention he deserved. The depth is about the same, so all-in-all, the tackle position is worse as a whole.
As for the interior...yes, that has been DRAMATICALLY upgraded, I would never argue that. However, offensive tackle play is more important than interior play. A few years ago, these boards were in complete agreement on that. So, as a whole, I have this group as even money.
2019: Frank Clark, Emmanuel Ogbah, Alex Okafor, Tanoh Kpassagnon
2022: Frank Clark, Carlos Dunlap, George Karlaftis, Mike Danna, Malik Herring, Joshua Kaindoh
I was surprised here! As much as we complain about the pass rush around here, when you take a look at it, the situation is probably better than when we won it all. The primary difference is Karlaftis, who will hopefully provide the third rusher this team has long needed if he can have even an average season for a rookie. Dunlap and Ogbah are about the same level. Clark has gotten worse, but Danna is a better rotational player than Kpassagnon was, and now we have some young depth behind him. This group is actually looking up!
DT: Slightly Better!
2019: Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Khalen Saunders, Xavier Williams, Joey Ivie
2022: Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Khalen Saunders, Tershawn Wharton
Definitely the group with the least turnover. I don't remember a single play Xavier Williams or...Joey Ivie?...made for this team. Wharton is bad at run defense, but he's an ascending young pass rusher to mix in with the two known quantities in Jones and Nnadi. Khalen Saunders is a thing.
2019: Anthony Hitchens, Damien Wilson, Reggie Ragland, Ben Niemann, Dorian O'Daniel, Darron Lee
2022: Nick Bolton, Willie Gay, Leo Chenal, Darius Harris, ??Elijah Lee??
Just losing Niemann is enough to move this unit into the "Better" category. I expect big things out of this group-particularly from Nick Bolton. Gay may also be in for a big year, and Leo Chenal was a draft crush of mine. I'm assuming Elijah Lee gets moved up to the active roster soon. Reggie Ragland and Damien Wilson were underrated players, but this group is all upside right now, and has the potential to be one of the best linebacker units in the league.
2019: Charvarius Ward, Kendall Fuller, Bashaud Breeland, Rashad Fenton, Morris Claiborne
2022: Rashad Fenton, L'Jarius Sneed, Trent McDuffie, Josh Williams, Jaylen Watson, Chris Lammons
The cornerback group may have the highest range of outcomes of any unit on this roster. Looking back at the CB room in 2019, I'm honestly surprised by how talented it was. Ward and Breeland are both league average starters at minimum, and Fuller was a plus player.
I remember being surprised by Fenton as a rookie. Now, he's the only proven player in this room. Sneed was electric as a rookie, but regressed last year. I expect him to correct that this season, but you can never be sure. McDuffie looks ready to ball out right away, and the other rookies are talented. But again; you have to be careful about putting TOO much faith in rookies.
Remember when Morris Claiborne was on this team?
2019: Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornhill, Dan Sorensen, Armani Watts
2022: Justin Reid, Juan Thornhill, Bryan Cook, Deon Bush
Look, this group has potential, but its hard to argue that it will be as good as the 2019 squad. I think Justin Reid will be better than Mathieu was LAST year, but he won't be as good as the Badger was in 2019. Thornhill has also regressed since then. I love Bryan Cook as a prospect, but we underrate how many plays Dirty Dan made at his peak because his exit was so sloppy.
All in all, Veach made good on his promise to use the picks from the Tyreek trade to improve the roster. The Defensive end room is a pleasant surprise, but I think the fanbase may be overrating the additions to the wide receiver room and offensive line. Based on this breakdown, I wouldn't be surprised to see the offense take a step back and the defense take a step forward (Especially if the CBs can play up to their talent.
Thats all I've got! Let me know how wrong I am in the comments, and as always GO CHIEFS!!