The Chiefs are set to retool the roster through free agency and the NFL Draft in the coming months.
An injection of talent is never a bad thing, especially at positions of need, to enhance competition on the road to the initial 53-man roster.
Still, the Chiefs have a group of developmental players currently on the offseason roster carried over from the 2014 season worth monitoring.
Center Eric Kush enters his third season after being one of two sixth-round picks of the 2013 NFL Draft.
The spotlight would fall directly on Kush if the Chiefs can’t re-sign Rodney Hudson, who is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on March 10.
The 6-4, 313-pound Kush learned behind Hudson, one of the league’s most-underrated centers, and should have an understanding of the offensive scheme.
Of course, the Chiefs could draft a center or sign a free agent. But for now it would be Kush’s show in the event Hudson signs elsewhere.
Offensive lineman Laurent Duvernay-Tardif is arguably one of the more intriguing players on the offensive line.
Considered raw when the Chiefs drafted him out of McGill University in the sixth round of the 2014 draft, the 6-5, 321-pound Duvernay-Tardif has the size to play outside or inside.
Duvernay-Tardif eventually moved to the guard during rookie minicamp where he stayed throughout training camp and preseason action. He should also possesses the nasty streak expected of a guard given he converted from defense to offense in college.
While Duvernay-Tardif never saw the playing field in 2014, the Chiefs kept him on the 53-man roster in lieu of the practice squad. The latter would’ve exposed Duvernay-Tardif to be signed by another team to its active roster.
The protection offers a good sign he fits in the Chiefs’ future plans as he develops.
“I thought he continued to improve, but he didn’t have any playing time,” coach Andy Reid said of Duvernay-Tardif at the 2015 NFL Scouting Combine. “But just his understanding, think of where he was, you’re talking maybe junior college level of play now jumping into the National Football League. So the improvement that he made, I just thought it was dramatic. Smart, strong, good athlete. I think he just needs to play more. I think he has nice upside, though.”
Meanwhile, guard Ricky Henry enters his fourth professional season and shouldn’t be overlooked.
The Chiefs had eyes on the 6-4, 310-pound Henry as early as Aug. 20, 2013 when the team claimed Henry off waivers from the New Orleans Saints. Kansas City then waived Henry with an injury designation on Aug. 31 before re-signing the former Nebraska Cornhusker to a reserve/future contract on Jan. 6, 2014.
Henry had the benefit of a full offseason with the Chiefs and eventually emerged during training camp. He announced his presence by alternating first-team repetitions with Jeff Linkenbach at left guard during the third preseason game.
The Chiefs waived Henry on Aug. 30 to reach the initial 53-man roster, and then promptly signed him to the practice squad where he spent the entire 2014 season. The Chiefs then re-signed Henry to another reserve/future contract on Dec. 29, 2014.
Henry originally entered the league in 2011 as an undrafted free agent with the Chicago Bears. He has two career appearances, one each with the Bears (2011) and Saints (2012).
The Chiefs have interesting wideouts in Armon Binns and Fred Williams, both of whom spent the 2014 season on the practice squad with an opportunity to learn the offensive system.
At 6-3, 211 pounds, Binns has the size and he brings playing experience with 11 career games (five starts) to his name, recording 24 catches for 277 yards and a touchdown while with the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins.
The 6-0, 190-pound Williams originally had a brief stint on the Chiefs practice squad late in the 2013 season after two seasons with the San Jose Sabrecats of the Arena Football League (2012-13).
Williams spent the entire 2014 offseason and training camp with the Chiefs, so that experience should benefit in 2015 as he battles for a roster spot.
Defensive end Mike Catapano’s 2014 season was lost after a gastrointestinal-based virus landed him on the reserve/non-football injury list to start the season. The Chiefs eventually moved Catapano to the reserve/injured list with a concussion on Sept. 25.
The 6-4, 291-pound Catapano joined the Chiefs in 2013 as a seventh-round pick and appeared in 15 games, recording four tackles (three solo), a sack and three quarterback pressures.
The Chiefs, unfortunately, are one of the teams around the league that don’t allow injured players to talk to reporters, even if the player is in the locker room during media availability. So, updates on Catapano’s recovery during the 2014 season weren’t available.
Catapano, however, has used his Twitter page since the regular season ended to provide updates on his progress, and his tweets, which include Vines, photos and YouTube videos, appear promising.
Defensive lineman Jerel Worthy is another player to monitor.
It’s easy to forget Worthy had the talent coming out of Michigan State to be a second-round pick (51st overall) of the Green Bay Packers in the 2012 NFL Draft.
His career hasn’t taken off, but the past season spent on the Chiefs practice squad taught the 6-2, 308-pound Worthy about establishing priorities as he looks to get his career back on track.
“Extremely, extremely humbling,” Worthy told ChiefsDigest.com on Dec. 29, 2014. “Being on such a high, and then going through the ups and downs of your career, it just puts everything in perspective. Now you know what’s important, you know how to put everything in perspective and everything in order.”
Worthy has appeared in 14 career games with four starts, recording 15 tackles (11 solo), 2 ½ sacks, a forced fumble and four quarterback pressures.
Outside linebacker/defensive end Josh Martin’s time in Kansas City has mostly come on special teams since he joined the team in 2013 as an undrafted free agent out of Columbia.
Of Martin’s 373 total snaps in 2014, 321 came on special team to rank second on the team behind only linebacker Frank Zombo’s 367 special teams snaps, according to FootballOutsiders.com.
But the 6-3, 245-pound Martin grabbed attention during 2014 training camp when was inserted as part of the Chiefs’ “dog front,” a pass-rush scheme consisting of four speed rushers and one down lineman designed to create pressure.
While the Chiefs didn’t incorporate the scheme much, if at all, during the 2014 season, Martin’s inclusion with Justin Houston, Tamba Hali and Dee Ford in the sub-package offered a glimpse of what the Chiefs thought of Martin’s speed.
Inside linebacker JoJo Dickson joined the Chiefs practice squad on Dec. 9, 2014, and then signed a reserve/future deal on Dec. 29.
The 6-1, 245-pound Dickson has bounced around teams since entering the league in 2011 as an undrafted free agent out of Idaho with the Jacksonville Jaguars. He has been with the Jaguars, Cleveland Browns, New York Jets and Arizona Cardinals before signing with the Chiefs.
While Dickson has an uphill battle to stick on the roster, Chiefs defensive coordinator Bob Sutton is familiar with what Dickson offers.
“Bob actually helped me get with the Jets,” Dickson told ChiefsDigest.com on Dec. 10, 2014. “It’s a good atmosphere to be around. A lot of people I know kind of pulling for me.”
Remember Sanders Commings, the Chiefs’ fifth-round pick (134th overall) of the 2013 NFL Draft?
Commings is flying under the radar, and rightfully so considering he spent two straight seasons on injured reserve. The former Georgia Bulldog landed on injured reserve in 2013 with a shoulder injury, and then suffered a fractured fibula and high ankle sprain during 2014 training camp.
There are obvious durability concerns, but the 6-0, 223-pound Commings offers versatility and possesses 4.41 40-yard dash speed if he can stay healthy.