Predicting Chiefs’ 53-man roster heading into first preseason game

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid watches a drill during the first day of training camp Saturday, July 30 in St. Joseph, Mo. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal)

Kansas City Chiefs head coach Andy Reid watches a drill during the first day of training camp Saturday, July 30 in St. Joseph, Mo. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal)

These predictions are based on observations at three rookie minicamp, ten organized team practice activity days (OTA), three mandatory minicamp, and 14 training camp practices. Here is a snapshot at the 53-man roster projection.

Quarterback (3): Alex Smith, Nick Foles and Kevin Hogan
Traded or Missing the Cut: Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray

The quarterback situation will be interesting over the next month. Foles was likely brought in to provide the Chiefs with an experienced backup. Hogan shows tremendous promise in his velocity and decisiveness.

Bray has a promising arm but it appears he’s still learning to read the weak points in a defense. Murray appears to have a difficult time gauging the speed of his receiver and some passes end up behind, wide or short of the intended target.

Running Back (5): Jamaal Charles, Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware, Knile Davis and Anthony Sherman
Missing the cut: Darrin Reaves and Trey Millard

Charles, West, Ware and Sherman should be locked in at their spots with their abilities to contribute in multiple ways on the team. Davis has shown an improved quickness, better pass protection and ability to smoothly catch out of the backfield. The former third-round pick is pushing for a roster spot with the Chiefs or another NFL team.

Reaves would be a nice addition to the practice squad in case of an injury. Four running backs is an odd number, but the ability to manipulate linebackers and safeties with this backfield is a huge advantage.

Wide Receiver (6): Jeremy Maclin, Rod Streater, Chris Conley, Tyreek Hill, Albert Wilson and Demarcus Robinson
Missing the cut: Da’Ron Brown, Frankie Hammond, Seantavius Jones, Mitch Mathews, Kashif Moore, De’Anthony Thomas and Mike Williams

Streater appears to have his timing down with all three quarterbacks and looks to be grasping the offense. Conley has improved in his ability to sell fakes, has crispness in his routes and waits to get his hands up right before the catch. Hill has a chance to be a very promising difference maker on special teams and an explosive target in the Chiefs offense.

Wilson has improved as well and can be a key contributor in the slot. Robinson has a knack for causing the defenses problems over the middle as a slot receiver. Thomas lacks the size and route-running ability of Hill. Williams has experienced too many drops during camp and doesn’t appear to have the same explosiveness from earlier in his career.

Tight Ends (3): Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris and Ross Travis
Missing the cut: James O’Shaughnessy and Brian Parker

The tight end position could see an addition but it likely isn’t on the roster at this time. All three tight ends projected to make the roster struggle in run blocking. They are all pass catching tight ends that can provide mismatches against safeties and linebackers.

O’Shaughnessy doesn’t appear to have the same explosiveness after his foot injury last season. Parker has experienced too many drops in camp.

Offensive Line (7): Eric Fisher, Parker Ehinger, Mitch Morse, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Mitchell Schwartz, Jah Reid and Zach Fulton
Missing the cut: Jordan Devey, Curtis Feigt, Reid Fragel, Garrick Mayweather, Daniel Munyer, Drew Nowak, Jarrod Pughsley and Zach Sterup

The Chiefs typically only dress seven offensive linemen on game day. The Chiefs could use an additional swing tackle to make it an even eight but the line is set at this time.

Defensive Line (6): Jaye Howard, Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey, Chris Jones, Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Nick Williams
Missing the cut: Niko Davis, David King and Jimmy Staten

The defensive line is arguably the strength of this football team. Defensive Line Coach Britt Reid has done an impressive job with his group throughout the spring and summer. Howard looks quicker this season and has been unblockable in most drills. Jones has shown an impressive skill set as a pass rusher and extremely athletic for his size. He is stout enough to not get pushed off the ball and can play all three positions.

Nunez-Roches has improved in his strength and speed. He can be a rotational pass-rushing nightmare for opponents. Williams has shown good ability in shutting down the edge on runs and has solid pass rushing skills. King and Staten have the capability to play elsewhere on Sundays if they don’t make the Chiefs roster.

Outside Linebackers (5): Tamba Hali, Dee Ford, Frank Zombo, Andy Mulumba and Jonathan Massaquoi
Missing the cut: Dezman Moses and Dadi Nicolas
Physically unable to perform (PUP): Justin Houston

The outside linebackers look noticeable different with Houston and Hali on the field. The group visibly lacks explosiveness off the edge. Ford continues to utilize his speed rush to the outside and looks stiff in coverage.

Zombo is a run support linebacker and outstanding special teams contributor. Mulumba and Massaquoi have delivered some big hits during padded practices but need to show more in the upcoming preseason games. Moses and Nicolas are capable of making the team. This group will show its ability in the four preseason games.

Inside Linebackers (5): Derrick Johnson, Justin March, Ramik Wilson, DJ Alexander and Josh Mauga
Missing the cut: Tyrell Adams and Terrance Smith

The inside linebacker position is arguably very stacked. March continues to make plays and fill gaps extremely well. Wilson has shown good instincts and improved coverage skills. Alexander is stronger this season with better pop and bull rush. Mauga provides the team with a reliable veteran that can start in a pinch.

Cornerback (5): Marcus Peters, Phillip Gaines, Steven Nelson, Keivarae Russell and D.J. White
Missing the cut: Deveron Carr, Bryce Cheek and Malcolm Jackson

Peters has looked like he is picking up where he left off in camp. He sees the field well, stays in the receivers hip pocket and averages an interception a day. Gaines has seen his reps increase as they ease him back in to the second corner position coming off knee surgery. Nelson looks comfortable at outside corner and nickel. He has been aggressive and strong in his jams.

Russell has rarely been beaten during camp and has shown very good recovery speed from the times Hill has got the best of him. The former Notre Dame corner typically seems to be in the right place by the time the ball arrives. White has had some big knockdowns in pass coverage and an impressive diving interception during camp that was returned for a pick-six in team drills. The future appears to be bright with this group.

Safeties (5): Eric Berry, Ron Parker, Daniel Sorensen, Marcus Cooper and Eric Murray
Missing the cut: Stevie Brown, Akeem Davis, Jamell Fleming, Jeron Johnson and Shak Randolph

Berry’s absence has allowed Sorensen, Cooper and Murray to see more opportunities with the first team. Sorensen looks to be the enforcer on the team and can effectively help in run support like Berry or in Husain Abdullah’s old role in the box. Cooper has grown with each practice an continues to make plays with the field in front him. He is able to find and attack the football, which has lead to multiple interceptions.

Murray’s athletic ability has shown up on the field. He is able to work in at corner or safety an delivered one of the more vicious hits of camp, when he laid out Streater on a crossing route. Brown has looked serviceable on the field and could replace Cooper with a strong preseason or if Berry doesn’t report.

Specialist (3): Dustin Colquitt, Cairo Santos and James Winchester

The Chiefs have no competition for their three specialist which one can safely assume locks them into place.

Practice Squad (10):  RB Darrin Reaves,  WR Da’Ron Brown, WR Seantavius Jones,  OT Zach Sterup, OG Garrick Mayweather, DL Jimmy Staten , OLB Dadi Nicolas, ILB Terrance Smith, CB Deveron Carr and S Shak Randolph

Reaves would be a great developmental player on the practice squad. Brown could use more seasoning in his route running. Jones has a good leaping ability, size and worth the investment. Sterup has good technique at the tackle position and could find himself on the roster at some point during the season. Mayweather has shown promising technique and base but needs some refinement in his footwork.

Staten could find himself on the active roster but the numbers push him to the practice squad. Nicolas has good athletic ability and his performance on special teams in the preseason could put him on the 53-man roster but for now this is the ideal spot for his development. Smith was caught in a numbers game at inside linebacker but the speed and ability is there to be developed. Carr and Randolph have made some noticeable interceptions and deflections during camp.

Final Breakdown

Offense: 24

Defense: 26

Special Teams: 3

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Nick Jacobs is a contributing writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @Jacobs71.

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