Here we are, less than a month away from training camp. It feels like forever ago that the Chiefs completed their draft in April. While there could still be some under the radar moves that could be made to the roster, the group the Chiefs will take to training camp is more or less intact. It’s time to look at the players I am confident will make the team and who is on the bubble.
Lock to make the team
Wide Receivers (3)
Tight Ends (2)
Offensive Linemen (7)
Defensive Linemen (4)
Outside Linebackers (4)
Inside Linebackers (3)
Total 37 out of 53
With the three specialists included, the Chiefs have about 16 roster spots combined across the offense and defense that are up for grabs. Let’s take a look at where the battles for jobs will be this summer in St Joe.
Matt McGloin and Chase Litton
These are two very different types of player. McGloin is a veteran backup who started some games for the Oakland Raiders. He is small, slow and doesn’t possess a strong arm but he is smart, and accurate, in the short range passing game. Litton is a big, prototypical pocket passer with a big time arm that was signed as an undrafted free agent. Litton, who foolishly left school a year early, is obviously a project, but as a third string QB, he is unlikely to see the field in any capacity in 2018, but should be kept over McGloin as Chad Henne was signed to be the veteran backup in the QB room.
Prediction: Litton makes the team, McGloin is cut.
Yikes, there’s a lot of talent and experience in this group of five players, but only three will be kept. Ware is the most proven of the bunch but is still battling his way back from injury and depending on the speed of his recovery, might not be back to full strength until after the regular season is underway. West has proven himself to be a fine third down player. Of the three Williams’s that were added this offseason, Damien has also proven to be a nice third down back in his time with the Miami Dolphins. He is very good as a pass catcher out of the backfield. Kerwynn has spent most of his career with the Arizona Cardinals and has flashed productivity as a runner but has made money more so because of his ability in special teams coverage and his ability to return kickoffs. Darrel, a highly sought after undrafted player this year, is a rugged between the tackles grinder. Algernon Brown is the second fullback in camp.
Prediction: West, Damien and Kerwynn Williams make the roster, Ware is stashed away on the PUP list and will replace one of the Williams’s on the roster midseason, Darrel Williams is tucked away on the practice squad and Brown is cut.
Ten players, two, possibly three roster spots available. This is a young group that would be hard enough to predict as is it, but with a totally different style of gunslinger running the offense, the type of wideout that will be most valuable and gel with Mahomes is anyone’s guess today. Robinson, Chesson and Thomas are all former 4th round draft picks by the Chiefs. Any of those three, along with undrafted Kansas State rookie Byron Pringle, all will get a good long look on kickoff returns. Kemp and Dieter spent last year on the practice squad and are the next two in line, followed by the rest.
Prediction: Robinson, Chesson and Pringle make the roster. My guess is Pringle beats out Kemp and Dieter after winning the job as the top kickoff returner, something he was extremely successful at for the Wildcats. Thomas, currently recovering from a late season injury, will be stashed on the PUP list for the first half of the season and could unseat Pringle if he doesn’t perform well early. Dieter and Kemp will be kept on the practice squad for a second year and the rest will be cut.
The biggest question mark on the offensive side of the ball is who will get the most snaps at tight end behind Kelce? Harris should make the team again but will miss the first game of the year due to a suspension, further complicating matters. Amaro and Wright have had some success in the NFL but haven’t done much lately and are both hanging onto their careers by a thread. Ellis is a young journeyman and Mack an undrafted, undersized rookie.
Prediction: Amaro, Wright and Ellis are all cut. Mack is kept on the practice squad as the Chiefs determine if there’s a spot for the talented “tweener” in the future. This seems like a position the Chiefs will continue shopping at once teams have to start cutting their rosters down to 53. Unless someone really stands out in camp, look for the Chiefs to add a better option off waivers or even acquire a veteran in a trade to round out the group.
Due to the versatility of Erving and Witzmann, the top two backups on the line, the Chiefs are likely to only keep eight total on the active roster and the main two competing for a spot are the veteran backup Devey and the 6th round draft pick McKenzie. The remaining players are all young with all but Wyile and Gordon being undrafted rookies.
Prediction: McKenzie makes the roster, Devey is cut and one or two of the remaining six players make the practice squad. It all will depend on who shows up the best in camp and the preseason. Keep a close eye on Hunter, who has the closest thing resembling an NFL frame amongst the group.
There’s likely only one spot up for grabs amongst these four. Jenkins has the most experience, as well as time with the Chiefs. McGill has been a journeyman for several years now as an undersized but scrappy nose tackle. Hamilton was added late last season and Liner was a former five star recruit to Alabama who couldn’t get on the field so he transferred to Arkansas State. He may be the most talented of the group.
Prediction: I think Kpassagnon ultimately makes a permanent switch to defensive end sometime this year. Jenkins will make the roster but will only play if Bailey or Jones goes down with an injury. Liner should be kept around on the practice squad while Hamilton and McGill likely are released.
Zombo’s days may be numbered in KC and at this stage in his career, a permanent switch to inside linebacker may be his best bet, as his best edge rushing days are far behind him. The problem is, inside linebacker depth is excellent.
Prediction: The Chiefs feel set with Houston and Ford as the starters and Speaks and Kpassagnon as the rotational backups, but Zombo will play one last season in KC to provide versatile inside/outside depth and special teams contributions. McCray and Holmes end up just being camp bodies.
Eligwe has flashed potential and I’m curious to see what he does in his second year of development. Smith is a fine special teams player who needs to continue to improve or he’ll lose his spot to Niemann or Davison.
Prediction: Both Eligwe and Smith make the roster. Niemann and Davison are both cut but the better of the two winds up on the practice squad. I’m betting on Niemann as of right now.
The biggest question mark on the defense, this will be a fierce competition between a lot of inexperienced and unheralded young players. Like tight end, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Chiefs add another player via waivers or trade if there isn’t enough of an impression made from this group in camp and the preseason.
Prediction: Smith, who was drafted in the 6th round, and Redmond, a former 3rd round pick of the 49ers, make the roster. Reasor, who was with the Chiefs last season, is on the bubble and likely is the next player in line should Smith or Redmond suffer an injury. Look for the Chiefs to keep two corners on the practice squad at all times as well, whether it be from this batch, or elsewhere. If I’m picking from this group, I’d say Springs and Dorleant are the top two.
Golden is a veteran picked up from the Steelers and McQuay was a 6th round pick last year. One of the two will make the team and my money is on the veteran Golden. McQuay is a prime candidate for another year on the practice squad.
Prediction: Golden makes the roster, McQuay sticks around on the practice squad and Sterns is cut.
3 QB: Mahomes, Henne, Litton
5 RB: Hunt, West, D. Williams, K. Williams, Sherman
6 WR: Hill, Watkins, Conley, Robinson, Chesson, Pringle
3 TE: Kelce, Harris, (player to be acquired later)
8 OL: Fisher, Ehinger, Morse, Duvernay-Tardiff, Schwartz, Erving, Witzmann, McKenzie
5 DL: Bailey, X. Williams, Jones, Nnadi, Jenkins
5 OLB: Houston, Ford, Kpassagnon, Speaks, Zombo
5 ILB: Ragland, Hitchens, O’Daniel, Te. Smith, Eligwe
5 CB: Amerson, Fuller, Nelson, Tr. Smith, Redmond
5 SF: Berry, Watts, Murray, Sorensen, Golden
3 SP: Butker, Colquitt, Winchester
3 Special Teams
RB Darrel Williams
WR Marcus Kemp
WR Gehrig Dieter
TE Blake Mack
OL Ryan Hunter
NT Dee Liner
ILB Ben Niemann
CB Keith Reasor
CB Arrion Springs
FS Leon McQuay
Stored on the PUP
RB Spencer Ware
WR De’Anthony Thomas