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Chiefs’ Market Movers heading into training camp

As we wait for training camp to begin, what did we learn about Kansas City’s players during OTAs and minicamp?

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

The Kansas City Chiefs have completed the three phases of their offseason program and have entered the final stretch of days off before training camp. Now that the practice notes have stopped flowing and the team takes its summer break, we can get an idea of some trending players for the upcoming visit to St. Joseph.

This roster is fairly well set, but that doesn't mean there's nothing on the line in August.


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Skyy Moore: The second-year receiver might be the most intriguing player in St. Joseph this summer. Is he doomed by a rookie season where he didn't seem to fully grasp the offense? Or is Moore a breakout candidate and (potentially) a high-volume target for Patrick Mahomes? It feels like there's a wide range of possibilities for Moore this season, and training camp will be his opportunity to prove what path he's on and what progress he's made. The returns sounded positive during minicamp, as Andy Reid said, "Skyy was one of the higher-targeted receivers; he had close to the most catches. I think he's taking a good jump. The quarterback trusts him."

Deneric Prince: He's been called a standout by all observers and teammates, has exceeded early expectations in his ability to catch the football and is likely the team's primary kick returner already. Deneric Prince is not only the most likely undrafted free agent to make the roster, but he might be a legitimate contributor on both offense and special teams. The longer Isiah Pacheco takes to get back on the field, the more opportunities Prince will have to prove he belongs. He made the most of his first opportunities — as our own Pete Sweeney wrote, we should be bullish on Prince's chances.

Noah Gray: Gray quietly had one of the better "TE2" seasons in recent Chiefs history last year. Not only did the Chiefs not really add to the position this offseason, but they apparently are also not carrying a fullback this year. That bodes well for Gray, the first name Andy Reid mentioned as an option to pick up fullback snaps. His versatility and pass-catching ability should give him plenty of looks this season, and his blocking seems to have improved enough to keep him on the field.

Others trending in the right direction: Jody Fortson, Bryan Cook, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Nazeeh Johnson, John Ross, Justyn Ross, George Karlaftis


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Willie Gay Jr.: It's a contract year for the talented linebacker, but the Chiefs' actions don't seem to point to him getting a new deal. Gay has been a valuable part of the linebacker room, but much of the excitement around him is based on "potential." He's shown flashes but hasn't yet earned the three-down impact linebacker status. He'll now have to compete with Drue Tranquill, an established starter with coverage and playmaking ability. Watch in training camp to see how the Chiefs coaches divvy up the snaps and situations. It could be that Gay's role actually decreases this season, even as he has more to prove.

Lucas Niang: Prior to the draft, the Chiefs publicly proclaimed their confidence in Niang as their potential starting right tackle opposite the newly acquired Jawaan Taylor. Then, they drafted a promising player (Wanya Morris) in the third round that could work on either side. Immediately after the draft, they signed another starting-caliber offensive lineman (Donovan Smith) and handed him the left tackle job. So, where does that leave Lucas Niang? Competing for a backup right tackle spot — and maybe for his spot on the roster. If Morris looks ready to be the swing tackle, and the Chiefs still like the potential of Prince Tega Wanogo and Darian Kinnard. That means Niang could be on a new team before Week 1. He's shown the potential to be a starter in the past; he'll have to try and show it again in St. Joseph.

Joshua Kaindoh: The Chiefs have kept Kaindoh on the roster to develop since drafting him in 2021's fourth round. The results? He's played in three games and has one QB pressure. Like Niang, Kaindoh's roster position is now in jeopardy because of new acquisitions. The team added Felix Anudike-Uzomah in the first round of this year's draft, and Charles Omenihu as one of their big free-agent signings. Neither really affected Kaindoh until they went back to the well to draft DJ Thompson, a developmental speed rusher with promise, but it will probably take a while before he sees the field. Can the team roster two developmental backups? Kaindoh might have one more chance to prove he can reach his potential, but now he has to also prove he's worth keeping around above this year's project.

Others trending in the wrong direction: Derrick Nnadi, Deon Bush, Malik Herring, Austin Reiter

Value (sleeper) pick: Richie James

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There's only one wide receiver without the initials Marquez Valdes-Scantling who has had a 500-yard season in the NFL. It happens to be the leading candidate for the starting punt returner job. Few in Kansas City were jumping for joy when the biggest veteran free agent addition to the wide receiver room was the 5-foot-9, 185-pound 27-year-old who has bounced around the NFC in his six-year career. But watch a few of his highlights from 2022, and you'll see a guy who is fearless and can move the chains.

Valdes-Scantling said, "Richie has been doing a hell of a job... doesn't talk much, just goes to work."

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