With one preseason game left to play in two days, we think we have seen enough to predict the Chiefs 53-man roster.
Quarterback (3): Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne, Chase Litton
Mahomes and Henne are locks, of course, but Litton, the undrafted free agent from Marshall, and Matt McGloin – the current third teamer, are in a battle for the third QB. McGloin does have NFL experience, but we like Litton here due to his higher upside.
Running back (4): Kareem Hunt, Spencer Ware, Damien Williams, Darrel Williams
The crowded running back corps became less crowded when the Chiefs parted ways with Charcandrick West last week, but there’s still some questions. Will the Chiefs keep three backs, or four? Ware made his preseason debut on Saturday, playing with both the 1’s and 2’s, so the possibility of Ware starting on the injured list has dwindled. In addition to Damien and Darrel Williams, there’s also Kerwynn Williams, who excelled down the stretch last season in Arizona as the third down back. A lot of competition here.
Fullback (1): Anthony Sherman
Sausage is a lock.
Wide Receiver (6): Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, De’Anthony Thomas, Jehu Chesson
There are some others here that are threatening to crack the roster, but most likely will end up as Practice Squad candidates. Last year’s Training Camp stud, Marcus Kemp, is the biggest threat to unseat DAT or Chesson, and he helped himself with a catch and run to the house on Saturday. There’s also Gehrig Dieter, who has some solid efforts in the preseason. A lot of competition here for the final two spots. Reid said he would keep “six or seven” here, and keeping seven would make sense with the guys they have, but it would take away from another position.
Tight end (4) : Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris, Jace Amaro, Alex Ellis
If you told me when camp broke that the Chiefs were keeping four tight end’s, I’d say Tim Wright was one of them, but Alex Ellis has leaped him on the depth chart and has caught everything thrown his way in camp so far. It’s debatable that Reid keeps four here, but he has done it three times in KC. A roster crunch could prevent it (it could be hard to keep both 4 RB and TE) and with Mahomes in control of the offense now, there may be fewer tight ends used than during the Alex Smith era.
Offensive Line (9):
- LT: Eric Fisher
- LG: Cam Erving
- C: Mitch Morse
- RG: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif,
- RT: Mitchell Schwartz
- Reserves: Sam Wylie, Bryan Witzmann, Parker Ehinger, Kahlil McKenzie
There are seven locks here: The five starters + Wylie and McKenzie, leaving four guys for the final two spots. Witzmann proved last year that he was capable of stepping in at either guard or tackle, and I don’t think the Chiefs are ready to give up on Ehlinger just yet. Jordan Davey is older than both and can’t do anything better that either one of them can do. Ryan Hunter was one of the most sought after undrafted free agents after the draft and has looked good in camp, but the Chiefs will likely try and sneak him through waivers and on to the Practice Squad.
Defensive end (4): Chris Jones, Allen Bailey, Jarvis Jenkins, Justin Hamilton
Defensive/Nose Tackle (2): Xavier Williams, Derrick Nnadi
Outside Linebacker (4): Justin Houston, Dee Ford, Breeland Speaks, Tanoh Kpassagnon
Inside Linebacker (5): Anthony Hitchens, Reggie Ragland, Terrance Smith, Dorian O’Daniel, Ben Niemann
I did not have Smith on the roster a week ago at this time, but he was clearly the nickel/dime linebacker on passing downs on Saturday – a role that seems suited for O’Daniel, who was a safety in college. So, we’re now penciling Smith in, which knocks Ukeme Eligwe off the 53-man, thanks to the emergence of undrafted free agent Ben Niemann, who has been a training camp star, so far. Special teams ace Frank Zombo is an OLB that is on the outside looking in, but, it would not be a surprise if he made the team.
Corner (5): Kendall Fuller, David Amerson, Steven Nelson, Tremon Smith, Orlando Scandrick
Amerson has looked terrible out on an island so far in preseason and is already sharing reps as the third corner with recently-signed Scandrick. It’s possible he is a roster cut casualty, but there is not a lot of depth at this position. The rookie Smith, quite frankly, has looked better than both of them, and is good against the run. He will also help in the return game.
Free Safety (2): Eric Berry, Leon MCQuay
Strong Safety (2): Amari Watts, Eric Murray
Does Eric Berry have another comeback season in him? Will he ever be remotely close to what he was before? Despite not playing in the preseason, Chiefs are counting on him playing at an All-Pro level, again. And, the defense needs it. He may turn into a Tamba Hali situation where he doesnt practice, but he plays, which is fine, as long as he is better than Hali does in said scenario. Who will start alongside him? Chiefs need someone to step up here. I think the Chiefs hoped it would be the rookie Watts, but he is a bit behind, due to an ankle injury to open camp.
K (1): Harrison Butker
P (1): Dustin Colquitt
LS (1): James Winchester
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