With the Kansas City Chiefs' first preseason game of 2023 set for this Sunday in New Orleans, the organization released its first unofficial depth chart of the season late Tuesday night. Here it is:
|WR||Skyy Moore||Richie James||Justyn Ross||Cornell Powell|
|LT||Donovan Smith||Prince Tega Wanogho||Wanya Morris|
|LG||Joe Thuney||Mike Caliendo||Sebastian Gutierrez|
|C||Creed Humphrey||Nick Allegretti||Austin Reiter|
|RG||Trey Smith||Darian Kinnard||Jerome Carvin|
|RT||Jawaan Taylor||Lucas Niang||Jason Godrick|
|TE||Travis Kelce||Noah Gray||Blake Bell||Jody Fortson |
|WR||Marquez Valdes-Scantling||Justin Watson||Ihmir Smith-Marsette||Kekoa Crawford |
|QB||Patrick Mahomes||Blaine Gabbert||Shane Buechele||Chris Oladokun|
|RB||Isiah Pacheco||Jerick McKinnon||Clyde Edwards-Helaire||Deneric Prince |
|WR||Kadarius Toney||Rashee Rice||Nikko Remigio||Ty Fryfogle|
|DE||George Karlaftis||Charles Omenihu||Joshua Kaindoh||Truman Jones|
|DT||Chris Jones||Daniel Wise||Phil Hoskins||Tershawn Wharton|
|DT||Derrick Nnadi||Danny Shelton||Keondre Coburn||Matt Dickerson |
|DE||Mike Danna||Malik Herring||Felix Anudike-Uzomah||BJ Thompson|
|LB||Willie Gay||Jack Cochrane||Cam Jones|
|LB||Nick Bolton||Drue Tranquill|
|LB||Leo Chenal||Cole Christiansen|
|CB||Trent McDuffie||Joshua Williams||Ekow Boye-Doe||Dicaprio Bootle|
|CB||L'Jarius Sneed||Jaylen Watson||Nic Jones||Kahlef Hailassie |
|S||Justin Reid||Mike Edwards||Anthony Cook||Isaiah Norman|
|S||Bryan Cook||Chamarri Conner||Deon Bush|
|PR||Richie James||Ihmir Smith-Marsette||Nikko Remigio|
|KR||Deneric Prince||Richie James||Ihmir Smith-Marsette|
Keep in mind: each year, the club stresses just how unofficial it is. It has little to no bearing on the 53-man roster. To quickly put that in perspective, last year's initial unofficial depth chart saw Daurice Fountain as a third-string receiver, Isiah Pacheco as a fourth-string running back and Elijah Lee as a starting linebacker.
Now that there is an understanding of how much this can change, let's get to the takeaways:
For the record, we have 12 third or fourth-string players making the initial 53-man roster.
The first takeaway further illustrates the point above — that the initial paper depth chart always seems to favor the veterans. Going back to our most recent projected 53, we count 12 players listed as third or fourth string that we expect to be on the roster.
They are wide receiver Justyn Ross, offensive lineman Wanya Morris, quarterback Shane Buechele, running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire, defensive tackle Keondre Coburn, defensive end Felix Anudike Uzomah, cornerback Nic Jones, safety Deon Bush (third string), tight end Jody Fortson, running back Deneric Prince, defensive tackle Turk Wharton and defensive end BJ Thompson (fourth string).
If there is any surprise to the listing, it's Fortson and Wharton with the fourth team. Fortson has been out of practice with a shoulder injury, and Wharton is returning from a torn ACL.
Justyn Ross' placement is consistent with what has taken place at practice.
Ross being behind Justin Watson (second team) is no surprise, as it's consistently been Watson, Marquez Valdes-Scantling and Skyy Moore as the starting receivers at training camp when they take the field in 11 personnel (one running back, one tight end). Ross still has a place on the roster.
The Chiefs are listing Charles Omenihu as a defensive end.
Part of the draw for Kansas City to acquire defensive lineman Charles Omenihu from the San Francisco 49ers is his ability to play both inside and outside along the defensive line. We know the Chiefs love the idea of the 6-foot-5 Omenihu and the 6-foot-6 Chris Jones manning the interior of the defensive line, so it was somewhat surprising to see them list him at defensive end. We'll make this adjustment in the Arrowhead Pride 53-man roster projection 3.0.
Malik Herring over Josh Kaindoh.
Given the impending six-game suspension coming for Omenhiu, a key spot opens up in the defensive line room — something that will appeal to both Malik Herring and Josh Kaindoh. Herring, the former undrafted free agent, is listed on the third string ahead of the former fourth-round draft pick, Kaindoh — suggesting that if general manager Brett Veach keeps an additional defensive end, he may have the leg up.
I could see Anudike-Uzomah pushing ahead of Herring by camp's end. The same could be said for fellow rookie Keondre Coburn, who would propel ahead of veteran Danny Shelton. But we will see.
Wanya Morris is a third string.
Even though it has always been tackles Lucas Niang and Prince Tega Wanogho mixing at both positions with the second team since the beginning of camp, I thought there was a chance Morris might be placed ahead of them — considering he gets a snap here and there at left and right tackle with the first team.
Ihmir Smith-Marsette is the second punt returner.
Special teams coordinator Dave Toub has named his starters: wide receiver Richie James as the punt returner and Prince as the kick returner. Where it gets interesting is at punt returner, and it matches what Toub has done at practice. The order of punt returners at training camp has been James, Smith-Marsette, Nikki Remigio and then Moore. Much to the delight of some cynical Chiefs fans, Moore is no longer listed as a returner on paper.
Regardless of Smith-Marsette's unofficial standing, it would be tough to see him break through to the initial 53-man roster.