Here is a final projection of the Chiefs’ 53-man roster based on three preseason games, training camp and offseason practices.
The Chiefs need to be at the initial 53-man roster by 3 p.m. CT on Saturday, and can begin establishing the practice squad at 12 p.m. CT on Sunday.
• QUARTERBACKS (3): Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Aaron Murray
OVERVIEW: Smith is the starter, while Daniel is the backup unless a trade opportunity became available. The former Tiger provides the organization with an established veteran and very accurate quarterback. Murray is third on the depth chart, but showed consistent progress throughout the third preseason game. Bray (knee) has been present on the field during training camp, but still has not participating in practices.
MISSING THE CUT: Tyler Bray (IR Candidate)
• RUNNING BACKS (4): Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, Charcandrick West, Anthony Sherman
OVERVIEW: Davis is an intriguing trade candidate for a team in need of a zone style running back with a strong offensive line in front of them. Otherwise, Davis will be the No. 2 in Kansas City and provide the Chiefs a downhill runner and returner. West has likely locked in his place on the roster with a strong offseason. He showed promise in 2014, but just needed time to develop under running backs coach Eric Bieniemy. The former Abilene Christian back runs with speed, vision and urgency on each carry.
He is also a very effective pass catcher out of the flats. Reaves is a powerful runner but will be unable to topple the top three backs. Ware has promise as a pass protector and good speed but the numbers are too much to overcome at this point.
MISSING THE CUT: Darrin Reaves, Spencer Ware
• WIDE RECEIVERS (7): Jeremy Maclin, Albert Wilson, Jason Avant, De’Anthony Thomas, Chris Conley, Da’Ron Brown, Fred Williams
OVERVIEW: The top five receivers have been set for quite some time, and the battle has been at the sixth and potentially seventh wide receiver spots. Brown has shown impressive upside as a receiver and gunner on special teams. Williams has taken advantage of every opportunity from rookie camp through the third preseason game and has forced his way onto the roster with consistency. If Brown or Williams were to be cut there is a big risk in not sneaking them on the practice squad.
Hemingway sustained a hip injury during camp and missed most of it. Hammond has been praised by the coaching staff for his knowledge at all three receiver positions on offense and his special teams contributions. The problem is that Hammond does not provide the same athletic ability or upside of Brown or Williams.
MISSING THE CUT: Junior Hemingway, Frankie Hammond Jr., Tello Luckett
• TIGHT ENDS (3): Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris, James O’Shaughnessy
OVERVIEW: Kelce and O’Shaughnessy are set at their positions. Both have struggles in the run blocking and the Chiefs will need to go with a third tight end that is an effective in that department. Ryan Taylor provides athletic ability, but the Chiefs have similar skill sets in Kelce and O’Shaughnessy. The Chiefs will need a sixth blocker for week one of the season against the Texans. Harris was activated off the PUP list and should have a good shot at the final 53.
MISSING THE CUT: Richard Gordon, Ryan Taylor
• OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9): Eric Fisher, Ben Grubbs, Mitch Morse, Jeff Allen, Donald Stephenson, Eric Kush, Zach Fulton, Paul Fanaika, Jarrod Pughsley.
OVERVIEW: The Chiefs will likely keep around nine offensive linemen and the above players are the best that they have on the roster. There is an opportunity to add depth at two positions in center/guard and guard/tackle with roster cuts from around the league. Pughsley will be the toughest decision the Chiefs have among these nine. He has technique and talent worth developing, but trying to sneak him on practice squad would be risky. Duvernay-Tardif did not make the cut because he still gets beat by the same moves and doesn’t appear to understand the angles of his blocks. He has seen two weeks with the first team offense, but evaluation shows a lack of progress.
MISSING THE CUT: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Garrett Frye, Daniel Munyer, Tavon Rooks
• DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6): Dontari Poe, Mike DeVito, Allen Bailey, Jaye Howard, Mike Capatano, Nick Williams
OVERVIEW: The Chiefs will likely keep five or six defensive linemen depending on the status of Poe. His presence on the practice field has been a positive sign, but his status remains unknown until he practices. Williams has shown enough to capture time on the active 53 if Poe is unavailable for the first few weeks. David Irving looks like a player the team is trying to sneak on the practice squad at this point. He will need a year to develop his size and strength but the talent is there. Hebron Fangupo has shown some flashes during camp and preseason but not enough to topple Williams. Rookie Rakeem Nunez-Roches needs a year of development in the weight room before he will be ready to compete.
MISSING THE CUT: Hebron Fangupo, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, and David Irving
• LINEBACKERS (8): Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Josh Mauga, Dee Ford, Dezman Moses, Ramik Wilson , Frank Zombo
OVERVIEW: The linebacker position will likely see between eight to nine players depending on the numbers needed at receiver and safety. Moses has shown promise during the preseason that warrants a roster position. Zombo gives the team flexibility as an inside and outside backer. He is also one of the leaders on special teams and provides justification for going with one player less on the roster. March had meniscus surgery after the preseason opener and his timetable for a return remains unclear, so an IR position is possible. Alexander could likely be snuck onto the practice squad.
MISSING THE CUT: Josh Martin, D.J. Alexander, James-Michael Johnson, Ja’Gared Davis, Justin March (IR Candidate)
• CORNERBACKS (5)*: Phillip Gaines, Jamell Fleming, Marcus Peters, Steven Nelson, Marcus Cooper
*NOTE: Sean Smith will serve a three-game suspension to start the season and will not count against 53-man roster.
OVERVIEW: Smith’s suspension will likely put Cooper on the roster during Smith’s time away from the team. Olatoye has shown promise during camp and had a handful of special teams tackles. He is worthy of a spot on the practice squad.
MISSING THE CUT: Deji Olatoye, Kevin Short
• SAFETIES (5): Ron Parker, Husain Abdullah, Tyvon Branch, Eric Berry, Kelcie McCray
OVERVIEW: The team will likely need to keep five safeties until Berry is back to 100 percent football conditioning. It also provides the team versatility in some of their coverage with Smith gone. McCray is solid in coverage and a big part of the special teams. Commings was unable to stay healthy for a third consecutive camp and Sorensen could find a home on the practice squad.
MISSING THE CUT: Sanders Commings, Daniel Sorensen
• SPECIALISTS (3): Dustin Colquitt, Cairo Santos, James Winchester
OVERVIEW: Colquitt, Santos, and Winchester don’t have competition.
• PRACTICE SQUAD (10): WR Frankie Hammond Jr., FB Spencer Ware, OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, OG Daniel Munyer, DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DE David Irving, ILB D.J. Alexander, CB Deji Olatoye, CB Kenneth Penny, S Daniel Sorensen
OVERVIEW: The practice squad rules can get a little hazy based on what is classified as accrued seasons. If Hammond is eligible, he could find a home here with his knowledge of the season and ability to step in because of an injury. Ware has enough talent worth stashing on the squad. Duvernay-Tardif likely wouldn’t be picked up by another team if subjected to waivers and this would be a great spot for him to develop.
Munyer is a player worth investing a spot in. He has the right technique and mentality to play on the offensive line. Nunez-Roches needs time to develop his strength as does Irving. Alexander doesn’t have enough tape that warrants an active roster spot on other teams. Olatoye has good speed and instincts that could fill in well if an injury occurred.