The Chiefs have now wrapped up three preseason games with roster cuts looming on Saturday. Here is a snapshot of the 53-man roster projection. These predictions are based on observations at multiple training camp practices and three preseason games.
11 Alex Smith, 15 Patrick Mahomes and 9 Tyler Bray
Smith had some placement issues during the Seahawks game but for the most part has been consistent and accurate. The former first overall pick remains the best option to win immediately. Mahomes has shown glimpses of his ability but must learn many nuances in the game before he is ready.
The former Red Raider will need to work on finding the void in the pocket, keeping even weight distribution, footwork and reading coverage among other others. Mahomes likes to bail from the pocket to see the field and appears more effective getting torch into his throw on the run.
The problem is in-game situations teams would bring blitzes to one side and spy the other for a clean shot at the quarterback or bring a delayed blitz the opposite way. Thus forcing Mahomes to remain in the pocket where footwork is inconsistent at this time.
Bray has improved in his ability to read the coverage and throws a better football between the numbers. The fifth-year veteran’s lack of mobility forces him to rely on a clean pocket to effectively throw the football but there is overall improvement. Stave has seen 17 of the 191 snaps during the preseason and is likely a practice squad candidate.
Out: 8 Joel Stave (PS)
Running Back/Fullback (4)
27 Kareem Hunt, 35 Charcandrick West, 26 C.J. Spiller and 42 Anthony Sherman
Hunt has become the front-runner to see a significant amount of touches with the recent knee injury sustained by Spencer Ware. The third-round selection showed solid burst, impressive balance, good power and natural ability receiving out of the backfield. Hunt will need to improve his pass protection blocking so he isn’t forced to rotate on passing downs.
West showed some of the promising explosiveness from his 2015 campaign, late in the Bengals preseason game. He provides the best quick twitch, decisive cuts in a confined area and is most effective in space and on cutback runs.
Spiller showed good explosiveness as well. He can effectively contribute in the run game, pass protection, catching out of flats and as a returner on special teams. Sherman makes most of his impact on special teams but is also a very good run blocker.
Out: 40 Devine Redding (PS)
Injured Reserve: 32 Spencer Ware
Wide Receivers (6)
10 Tyreek Hill, 17 Chris Conley, 12 Albert Wilson, 13 De’Anthony Thomas, 80 Jehu Chesson and 14 Demarcus Robinson
Hill is arguably the Chiefs most explosive offensive weapon that forces defenses to keep their safeties deep in coverage and opens the middle of field for the rest of his teammates. He has exclusive played as a receiver on offense with 71 snaps and participated in zero snaps on special teams.
Conley showed a couple of flashes in the 49ers preseason game but only had one reception for nine yards since the initial preseason game despite having the most snaps among receivers at 79. Wilson begins his fourth season in the system, he is capable of lining up in multiple positions as well as contribute on special teams.
Thomas is also the eldest veteran among the wide receiver corp with four seasons. He appears Hill’s replacement on kick returns and insurance from some of the packages that will likely go through Hill. Chesson has some impressive catches during the preseason and has been a consistent special teams contributor.
The sixth receiver spot is still a question mark. Robinson hasn’t shined at receiver but remains a solid special teams contributor. Jones showed some elusiveness and ability to adjust his route based on coverage but his injury in the third preseason game hampered his opportunity to close the gap. Kemp took advantage of his special teams snaps with a strong performance.
Out: 81 Seantavius Jones (PS) , 7 Marcus Kemp (PS) , 4 Gehrig Dieter (PS) , 6 Tevin Jones, 1 Tony Stevens, 82 Robert Wheelwright
Tight Ends (3)
87 Travis Kelce, 84 Demetrius Harris and 89 Gavin Escobar
The Chiefs tight end position remains one of the more interesting battles. Harris has seen extended snaps with the first and second team, along with the most snaps among tight ends on special teams with 32. The fourth-year veteran struggles in the run blocking department and has drops at times but no tight end appears to have hurdled him on the depth chart.
Escobar provides the team a reliable veteran with consistent ability to catch the football. Charles has seen the least amount of snaps among tight ends at 37 but has spent the equal amount of time on special teams. His impact on special teams will likely decide his roster fate. Ross Travis and Escobar have similar numbers in terms of snap count but Escobar gets the nod based on his experience.
Out: 85 Orson Charles and 88 Ross Travis
Offensive Line (8)
72 Eric Fisher, 79 Parker Ehinger , 61 Mitch Morse, 76 Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, 71 Mitchell Schwartz, 73 Zach Fulton, 75 Jah Reid and 70 Bryan Witzmann
The starting offensive line appears set minus how quickly Parker Ehinger can return to the left guard position. The Chiefs typically keep seven offensive linemen active. Fulton saw work at both guard positions and center. Reid spent most of his time at the backup right tackle spot but is capable of effectively playing guard. His status could potential hang on what becomes available during roster cuts at tackle. Witzmann saw most of his time at the left guard position.
The Chiefs currently lack an effective backup swing tackle but the eight above are effectively the best of the bunch. Tiller is capable of making the roster but the offensive line already has three backups capable of playing guard.
Out: 60 Andrew Tiller , 67 Joseph Cheek, 65 Jordan Devey, 77 Donald Hawkins, 66 Josh James, 64 Damien Mama (PS) and 68 Mike Person
Defensive Line (6)
95 Chris Jones, 96 Bennie Logan, 97 Allen Bailey, 99 Rakeem Nunez-Roches, 92 Tanoh Kpassagnon and 98 Roy Miller III
The defensive line is arguably the Chiefs strength on the entire roster. The team has a strong rotation of strong and athletic defenders that can collapse the pocket in pass rush and hold the line of scrimmage against the run. King would be effective in nickel and dime situations but the numbers may force him out right now.
Thomas could find himself on the roster if Miller’s hamstring injury lingers. If Kpassagnon seems extended time in the rotation at outside linebacker, this number could jump to seven as well.
Out: 93 David King, 77 Cam Thomas, 94 Jarvis Jenkins, 98 Ricky Ali’fua (PS) and 74 Maurice Swain
Outside Linebackers (4)
50 Justin Houston, 91 Tamba Hali, 55 Dee Ford and 51 Frank Zombo
The outside linebacker position appears set with the four above. The team could use additional depth if someone hits the market. Okine has good size and athletic ability worth developing on the practice squad. Rush unfortunately has only seen seven snaps on special teams.
PUP: 52 Dadi Nicolas
Out: 44 Earl Okine (PS) , 54 Marcus Rush
Inside Linebackers (6)
56 Derrick Johnson, 53 Ramik Wilson, 90 Josh Mauga, 57 Kevin Pierre-Louis, 45 Ukeme Eligwe and 59 Justin March-Lillard
The inside linebacker position appears as the special teams hub this preseason with four players seeing at least 30 snaps. Wilson has shown improvement at getting off blocks and attacking the line of scrimmage. Mauga is a dependable backup. Pierre-Louis has seen the most snaps on special teams with 40. Eligwe has similar athletic ability that rivals Derrick Johnson but needs time to maturate. March only has 18 snaps on defense but the second most among inside linebackers on special teams with 30.
Out: 48 Terrance Smith (PS)
22 Marcus Peters, 39 Terrance Mitchell, 20 Steven Nelson, 31 Phillip Gaines and 24 D.J. White
The cornerback position may see an addition at the fifth or even sixth spot depending how the overall roster numbers shake out. White and Gaines haven’t had the strongest performances this preseason. Acker and Bausby could find their way onto the roster but Acker could be in front with 24 snaps on special teams versus Bausby’s four.
Out: 27 Kenneth Acker, 31 De’Vante Bausby, 26 Jacoby Glenn, 47 Trevon Hartfield , 6 Ashton Lampkin (PS) , 30 JR Nelson and 40 Larry Scott
29 Eric Berry, 38 Ron Parker, 49 Daniel Sorensen, 21 Eric Murray and 34 Leon McQuay
The Chiefs safety numbers could depend on if they feel the need to move Murray or McQuay back to the corner position if no upgrades can be found. Terrell has seen the most snaps among members in the secondary with 111 on defense. Kansas City just has more invested in Murray and McQuay at this time.
Out: 25 Steven Terrell
2 Dustin Colquitt, 5 Cairo Santos and 41 James Winchester
The players above should be locked in unless Santos is unavailable to go against New England.
Out: 1 Sam Ficken
Special Teams: 3