With the draft over and mini camps starting soon, there’s not too much going on in the NFL world. Sure, Josh Gordon’s application for reinstatement was rejected by the league, and Colin Kaepernick remains unsigned, but nothing major has happened. So, once again with fellow Chiefs enthusiast Brandon Norris, I bring you a way-too-early 53-man roster prediction for the Kansas City Chiefs. Brandon’s differences will be noted in parentheses.
QB (3): Alex Smith, Patrick Mahomes, Tyler Bray
Cut: Joel Stave
Joel Stave doesn’t seem like he’ll beat out Tyler Bray, considering the latter remains on the roster despite being an undrafted free agent while drafted QB’s Aaron Murray and Kevin Hogan (both 5th round) are no longer with the team.
RB (4 – 3 + 1 FB): Spencer Ware, Kareem Hunt, Charcandrick West, Anthony Sherman
Cut: C.J Spiller
Hunt will probably steal much of West’s snaps on third down, and may even steal Ware’s workload as the season progresses. Ware was far better in 2015 when the Chiefs had more of a committee backfield, so this may wind up being good for everyone involved. Spiller seems like a camp body at this point.
WR (5): Jeremy Maclin, Tyreek Hill, Chris Conley, Jehu Chesson, Demarcus Robinson,
Cut: De’Anthony Thomas (Brandon has Thomas making the 53-man roster), Albert Wilson
I don’t see the Chiefs keeping seven receivers, even if DAT has been a good special teams player for KC. I think Robinson (who also starred on special teams as a rookie) earns more work. Expect Maclin to bounce back in a big way after an injury-plagued season. Brandon thinks Thomas stays thanks to his surprisingly good play as a gunner on special teams last season. Brandon thinks the off-field incident and poor play from Harris gets him booted off the roster.
TE (3): Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris, Gavin Escobar
Cut: Emmanuel Byrd, Ross Travis
Kelce is safe. I THINK Harris is safe, but Brandon doesn’t (Travis makes the 53-man roster). Escobar was an interesting one-year sign. He does have an 11.1 yards per catch career average (and 8 scores on 30 catches), so there’s some big-play potential. Harris, who has had his fair share of drops, could lose snaps if Escobar, who is also a nice commodity in the run game, carves out a role. Reid hasn’t used two tight ends heavily in KC, but this is certainly something to keep an eye on as we draw closer to the season.
OT (3): Mitchell Schwartz, Eric Fisher, Jah Reid
G (4): Parker Ehinger, Zach Fulton, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Damien Mama
C (1): Mitch Morse
Cut: Andrew Tiller, Bryan Witzmann, Mike Person,
The five starters (Schwartz, Fisher, Morse, LDT, Ehinger) are locked up for the forseeable future, and while the depth isn’t great, they are versatile. Fulton is actually a better center than guard, while Reid can play both tackle spots. Brandon believes the youth of Tiller and Mama help them beat out Witzmann and Person.
DL (6): Bennie Logan, Allen Bailey, Jarvis Jenkins, Chris Jones, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Tanoh Kpassagon
Cut: T.J Barnes
Logan was brought in on a one-year deal from the Eagles after the Chiefs (rightfully) let Dontari Poe walk. He’s more consistent as a player, and could prove helpful to a run defense that was one of the league’s worst. Bailey should be back after missing most of last season, and the development from Jones and rookie Kpassagon will help remake the Chiefs defense into a versatile and dominant unit. There’s no household names, but they take up the space of a few city blocks.
LB (10): Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Dee Ford, Derrick Johnson, Ramik Wilson, Justin March-Lillard, D.J Alexander, Dadi Nicolas, Ukeme Eligwe, Frank Zombo
Cut: Terrance Smith (Brandon predicts Zombo is cut)
Unless Eligwe becomes a star, or the Chiefs intend on drafting their future inside backer next year, I don’t like the inside linebackers for KC this season. Johnson may not be an every down starter anymore, as the injuries have started to mount. A healthy Justin Houston is arguably the best pass rusher in football, Hali continues to play well despite age, and Dee Ford showed signs of being a force last season. The depth could be cause for concern, but if healthy, this is still an elite unit. According to Brandon, Zombo “is finally replaced for a young stud.” But, he is so valuable on special teams.
CB (5): Marcus Peters, Steven Nelson, Terrance Mitchell, D.J White, Devante Bausby
Cut: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Phillip Gaines, Marqueston Huff (Brandon predicts D.J White is cut)
S (5): Eric Berry, Ron Parker, Eric Murray, Daniel Sorenson, Leon McQuay
The fact Kansas City didn’t take a corner back is a vote of confidence to either Steven Nelson, Terrance Mitchell, or both. Local product and sick athlete Bausby could stick, and Baptiste could be an interesting story (6’3, drafted in the 2nd RD of 2014 by the Saints) and reminds some of Sean Smith, but I haven’t seen enough yet. The safety position is deeper than cornerback, and that’s good, considering Sutton likes to use three safeties a lot. Sorenson got a new deal this offseason and should improve upon a solid 2016 season. For the same reason I believe D.J White makes it, Brandon believes Baptiste makes it: defensive backs coach Al Harris. He also believes it will be Bausby, “who impressed two years ago added to the fact that Gaines hasn’t stayed close to healthy since being drafted,” will be the one to get in over Phillip Gaines.
Special Teams (3): Cairo Santos, Dustin Colquitt, James Winchester
The Chiefs should find their Colquitt replacement soon, but for now, the team feels confident in one of just three players on the team that were drafted prior to 2007. Santos has grown as a player, and Winchester is a fine snapper. As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
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