There were some givens on the Chiefs roster this year:
- Best QB in NFL (history?), check
- Best TE in NFL (history?), check
- Top-notch IOL, check
- Top-3 LB corps, check
- Adequate S corps, check
Then there were some unknowns:
- What’s going to happen at OT?
- Do we need a #1 WR like DHop or OBJ?
- Who’s going to step up on the D-line after losing Clark, Dunlap, and Saunders?
- What’s going to happen at RB?
- How many NFL-level CBs can Brett Veach find and DB Coach Dave Merritt develop?
Here’s what we’ve learned…
1. OT: Donovan Smith and Jawaan Taylor are at least adequate starting OTs. They may even be more than adequate. They are not a significant step down from last year’s bookends and may even be a slight upgrade. Wanya Morris is looking like the 2023 swing tackle who could start next season IF Veach doesn’t find another upgrade.
2. WR: The Chiefs’ WR depth is real, like really real. We already knew enough about MVS (an adequate WR2/3), Kadarius Toney (uber-talented and oft-injured), and Justin Watson (athletic specimen with below average hands). Skyy Moore has taken a step forward. Justyn Ross continues to add to his highlight reel. Rashee Rice is a baller. Richie James could end the season as the Chiefs’ WR1 statistically. UDFA Nikko Remigio can get open, catch the ball, and run after the catch. Yet he’s no higher than 8th on the depth chart. Ihmir Smith-Marsette, a guy I’ve totally ignored this offseason, just made a statement against the Cardinals. These guys are making it hard on the coaches and the front office to get to 53. Good for them. After all their hard work, they deserve their shot. I still think the Chiefs keep 7. Sorry Nikko and Ihmir.
3. DL: The Chiefs’ need CJ to have a difference-making D-line. That said, some guys have stepped up. Danny Sheltonhas risen from the ashes. FAU is making plays, getting pressure at a world-class rate of nearly 9% of his snaps. When his suspension is over, Charles Omenihu looks like a quality piece of the D-line puzzle capable of contributing both inside and out. Malik Herring also appears to have taken a step forward. BJ Thompson and Keondre Coburn have flashed in moments. All this is a testament to DL Coach Joe Cullen. Everywhere that man goes, guys have their best years.
4. RB: Based on camp hype, I had speculated that the Chiefs’ could shop/cut CEH because Deneric Prince would be a capable RB3. After 2 weeks of preseason, that no longer seems to be the case. It’s now much more likely that Prince will be on the PS while CEH locks in his spot as the RB3. It has been mentioned that Pacheco’s first 2 preseason games last year were also statistically bad. Maybe Prince gets it turned around in Week 3. But if not, expect him to take a red shirt year to get ready for 2024. La’Mical Perine had a solid Week 2, but I still don’t see him making the squad. Prove me wrong, La’Mical!
5. CB: Before the draft, the Chiefs already had plenty of young CBs: L’Jarius Sneed, Trent McDuffie, Joshua Williams, and Jaylen Watson. (You could also throw in Nazeeh Johnson who was occasionally listed as a CB.) They then drafted Chamarri Conner (who played both safety and corner in college) and Nic Jones. Conner has played well at multiple positions (slot corner, box safety, and deep safety). Nic was doing well until he broke a couple fingers. And then they signed UDFAs Kahlef Hailassie ($100k guaranteed), Reese Taylor ($70k guaranteed), and a bit later Ekow Boye-Doe. Kahlef’s interception against the Saints was a thing of beauty. All 3 of these guys have shown both coverage skills and tackling prowess. But there is no room at the inn, or rather on the 53-man roster. Not sure what the Chiefs are going to do. #champagneproblems.
6. Bonus-QB2: Against AZ it looked like the Chiefs had at least 2 quality backup QBs. Shane Buechele was a magician once again, and Blaine Gabbert had a perfect passer rating of 158.3. I know they were playing against lesser competition. They were also playing with a lesser supporting cast. Particularly with the new rules about a game-day "emergency QB," I expect the Chiefs to keep 3 QBs at cut-down time.
What does this mean?
1. The Chiefs’ entire OL is set for the season. In fact, the Chiefs will be losing (waiving or trading) an OL that deserves to be on a roster somewhere.
2. The Chiefs don’t need a true #1 WR. Rather, they will also be losing at least 1 WR capable of playing on Sundays. This committee will do just fine. Just fine with Mahomes at QB is 5,000 yards and 50 TDs (including passes to TEs and RBs).
3. With Chris Jones, this D-line will be a force again in 2023. Sorry opposing QBs.
4. It’s looking like the Chiefs may only keep 3 RBs on the initial roster, though they may keep 2 RBs on the PS: Prince and Perine.
5. The Chiefs have more NFL-level corners than they can roster. Perhaps a couple are stashed on the practice squad. Perhaps somebody will get traded so the Chiefs don’t simply lose a young CB to the waiver wire.
6. If Gabbert has understood the basics of Andy’s system, and Buechele is the real deal, then the Chiefs might be in better shape than anyone could’ve imagined if the worst were to happen.
2023 and beyond looks bright for KC. Concerns about OL and WR seem to be alleviated. CB continues to be deeper than ever. Our former RB1 is now our RB3. Yes, I want CJ to come in and be a monster, preferably for years to come in red and gold. But even if that doesn’t happen, the Chiefs have a championship-caliber roster. Veach and his friends continue to work their magic. #buddingdynasty