Analysis

A look at the current state of the Chiefs roster

With free agency underway in the 2020 offseason, the roster is beginning to look a little more different every day, with departures and a few additions. Obviously there will be more moves made as the free agency period continues and we head into the raft in April. The Chiefs currently have 61 players on their roster including practice squad members. This number is fluid and will change as time goes on. This article will rank each player by their position as we look at which areas are set and which areas we should expect to see some change. I will also provide a grade for where every position is right now based on talent and depth. These grades will be subject to change as free agency progresses.

Quarterbacks

  1. Patrick Mahomes
  2. Chad Henne
  3. Kyle Shurmur
  4. Jordan Ta’amu

It comes as no surprise that the Chiefs have no question about who will be their starter in 2020. Patrick Mahomes is an MVP, Super Bowl MVP, and the face of the NFL. It might have been a surprise to some Chiefs fans that the team let Matt Moore walk, instead bringing back the original back up Chad Henne, who suffered a fractured ankle during the preseason and was out most of the year. We should only hope to see Henne in the worst-case scenario but he appears to have the trust of the Chiefs coaching staff and management. Following Henne is Kyle Shurmur who was not active for most of the season. I expect the Chiefs to bring in a fourth QB for camp and give someone for Shurmur and Henne to compete with. Joran Ta’amu will most likely be a local camp body for the Chiefs, but if he performs well in the preseason don’t be surprised for him to be flipped for a potential draft pick.

Grade: A

Running backs

  1. Damien Williams
  2. Darwin Thompson
  3. Darell Williams
  4. Elijah Mcguire
  5. Mike Weber

Damien Williams for two consecutive seasons has had stand out postseason play for the Chiefs and is currently the best RB on the roster. Darwin Thompson worked his way into more time as injuries mounted and he showed some progress out of the backfield. I expect both Damien Williams and Thompson both to be back but after that it is less clear. Darell Williams has shown some ability in his time in KC but injuries have often derailed his play. I think he could be a possible roster cut or even a trade piece for a late-round selection. Elijah Mcguire and Mike Webber spent their season on the practice squad and I expect them to be camp bodies or waived but neither will land on the final roster. I do not think it would be out of the question for the Chiefs to draft a RB, but it will likely be a mid-round pick.

Grade: B

Fullback

  1. John Lovett

The Chiefs are currently without their FB from the Super Bowl Championship team, Anthony Sherman who is set to be a free agent. John Lovett didn’t record any game action in 2019 but did flash some in the training camp. The QB turned FB was undrafted out of Princeton. This is a position that is somewhat up in the air even though we saw Sherman contribute more on special teams than at his natural position. Depending on if the Chiefs bring back Sherman will decide if they bring in another FB to compete in camp and OTA’s.

Grade: C

Wide Reciever

  1. Tyreek Hill
  2. Sammy Watkins
  3. Mecole Hardman
  4. Byron Pringle
  5. Jody Fortson
  6. Gherig Dieter
  7. Felton Davis

Tyreek Hill is one of the most versatile weapons in the NFL and is the catalyst for the Chiefs deep passing attack. He and Mahomes have a chance to become one of the best QB/WR duos of all time. Mecole Hardman emerged as a future threat with his blinding speed and developed well as the season progressed. Byron Pringle had a few nice games and looks to continue to be a contributing member to the offense. The biggest question in the group is Sammy Watkins. At times Watkins struggled to find production in the regular season, but he went on a tear in the offseason. Many believed he would be a cap casualty, but a week into free agency and he is still on the roster. Only time will tell if Watkins will remain on the roster. Gherig Dieter appeared in two games but was used on special teams and didn’t record any statistics, failing to record a catch. Fortson and Davis didn’t suit up in any games. There will likely be additions to this unit, but how the WR corps will shape up will depend on the team’s decision with Watkins.

Grade: B

Tight Ends

  1. Travis Kelce
  2. Deon Yelder
  3. Nick Keizer

A position that I believe the Chiefs are content with is TE. Travis Kelce is the best receiving TE in the NFL and is starting to look like he could be Canton bound someday. Deon Yelder recorded three catches in 2019, his second season in KC as the third-string TE, behind current free agent Blake Bell. It is unclear if the Chiefs will bring back Bell but they should be fine with Yelder. Nick Keizer rounds out the group. Having not played in a game, the undrafted D2 collegiate product should expect to have some more competition come camp time but I think Kelce and Yelder will be Chiefs TE1 and TE2 respectively this coming season.

Grade: A

Offensive Line

  1. Mitch Schwartz
  2. Eric Fisher
  3. Laurant Duvernay-Tardiff
  4. Austin Reiter
  5. Andrew Wylie
  6. Mike Remmers
  7. Martinas Rankin
  8. Nick Allegretti
  9. Ryan Hunter
  10. Greg Senat
  11. Jackson Barton

The Chiefs are set at both tackle positions having All-Pro Mitch Schwartz on the right and former pro bowler Eric Fisher on the left. In my opinion, those are the only clear pictures we have right now for the Chiefs OL but I expect Austin Reiter to be back at the center position as well. Laurant Duvernay Tardiff could be a potential cap casualty as he seemed to struggle at times in 2019 season. Andrew Wylie had his tender picked up after an up and down 2019. He suffered an ankle injury that nagged him all season but was replaced ultimately in the playoff run by Stephen Wisnewiski, who departed for Pittsburgh this past week. The Chiefs decided not to bring back swing tackle Cam Erving and recently signed veteran Mike Remmers to take over the role. Remmers has experience at both guard and tackle and while I expect him to primarily compete for a swing tackle spot don’t be surprised to see him be in the mix for a starting guard spot. Also, expect to see Martinas Rankin fight for the starting LG position this season. Rankin started five games at guard this year before suffering an ACL tear in week ten vs the Tennesee Titans. Rankin showed some flash but coming off of the injury provides some question marks. Nick Allegretti played sparingly this season, mostly in garbage time situations. He will likely be given a shot to compete for a spot at guard but I think we still see him as more of a depth piece. Ryan Hunter appeared in only three games this year in a reserve role. Neither Greg Senat or Jackson Barton appeared in any games. OL is a position I can see the Chiefs wanting to address in the offseason. While there is most likely a need in the interior, do not be surprised to see the Chiefs take a tackle to plan for the future given the time Schwartz and Fisher have left on their contracts.

Grade: B

Defensive Line

  1. Chris Jones
  2. Frank Clark
  3. Derrick Nnadi
  4. Alex Okafor
  5. Khalen Saunders
  6. Tahno Kpassagnon
  7. Breeland Speaks
  8. Tim Ward
  9. Devaroe Lawrence
  10. Braxton Hoyett
  11. Anthony Lanier

This position group is also full of questions that all stem from what the team will decide to do with Chris Jones. The Chiefs made it clear early on that Jones would receive the Franchise Tag and when this news came out it was assumed a long term deal or a trade was in the works. Currently, there have been no additional moves so Jones’ future with the team is still up in the air. Frank Clark came up huge in the postseason along Derrick Nnadi who has become a key cog as the one technique. Both Clark and Nnadi will certainly be back. Alex Okafor was having a good season before suffering a torn pec against the Patriots which sidelined him for the rest of the season. Khalen Saunders progressed well as an interior player and showed good development. Okafor and Saunders should make the 2020 roster as well. I also expect Tahno Kpassagnon to as well. He stepped up at the DE position as the season progressed. With the loss of Emmanuel Ogbah to Miami in free agency and still no word on Mike Pennel, the Chiefs will need to find a few more options. Speaks, Ward, Hoyett, Lawrence, and Lanier will all be guys who could be on the bubble come camp time. Breeland Speaks more so than the others after not playing due to injury last year. If Jones is traded and the team cannot bring back Pennel, then there will be an immediate need for an interior DL player and another pass rusher in the draft.

Grade: B

LineBackers

  1. Damien Wilson
  2. Anthony Hitchens
  3. Ben Nieman
  4. Dorian O’Daniel
  5. Demone Harris
  6. Emmanuel Smith
  7. Darius Harris

Arguably one of the weakest position groups on the Chiefs roster is LB. The unit will likely be losing Reggie Ragland and Darron Lee to free agency. Damien Wilson and Anthony Hitchens have the most experience of any players in the group and will both likely be starters in Spags’ 4-3 defense. Wilson and Hitchens play well vs the run but the Chiefs are still missing a LB that can run well in the flats and stop the pass. They had to make up for it by playing extra safeties in the box this season. Ben Niemen showed some spark on special teams and should be in the mix to make a roster spot but his play at LB will need to continue to become more consistent. Dorian O’Daniel was expected to take a big step forward this season and emerge as the cover LB the Chiefs needed but he played very sparingly this year. Time might be running out for O’Daniel. Demone Harris could be a candidate to replace Ragland as a big run stuffing backer, but he along with Emmanuel Smith and Darrius Harris will likely be fighting for their jobs in the near future. LB is a position I think the Chiefs will ultimately decide to spend a draft pick at, and if the right player is available it could be a high round selection.

Grade: C

Safety

  1. Tyrann Mathieu
  2. Juan Thornhill
  3. Daniel Sorensen
  4. Armani Watts

The Chiefs might have the best safety situation in the NFL. Tyrann Mathieu is the all-pro leader of the defense, Juan Thornhill had a breakout rookie season, and Dan Sorensen should be back as well. Thornhill is reportedly doing well in his recovery from an ACL injury. Sorensen had a good postseason on special teams but also helped in run defense by playing up around LB depth. Armani Watts showed some flashes in his second season and fits the bill for what the Chiefs want in their safeties. Jordan Lucas is the only departure from the position and I don’t see much movement from this already solid position group other than a few camp bodies.

Grade: A

Cornerbacks

  1. Charvarious Ward
  2. Rashad Fenton
  3. Antonio Hamilton
  4. Alex Brown
  5. Chris Lammons

CB is currently the thinnest position on the Chiefs roster. The only move they have made so far is signing Antonio Hamilton who will likely be a backup and special teams player. Brashaud Breeland is still on the open market and as time goes on there are more questions as to where he will end up. Kendall Fuller signed with the Washinton Redskins. Charvarious Ward will be a starter and I would expect Rashad Fenton to work his way into that slot/deep corner position that Fuller has played the last few seasons. Alex Brown and Chris Lammons will likely be depth guys but will need to compete for their spots. To get back a proven vet like Breeland on the team would be huge considering the youth of this group. If that does not pan out, look for the Chiefs to go CB early in the draft or bring in another established player via free agency.

Grade: D

Specialists

  1. Harrison Butker
  2. Dustin Colquitt
  3. James Winchester

Rounding out the roster are the specialists. Harrison Butker has emerged as a top-end kicker in the NFL. He has the leg and accuracy to hit from deep and has shown he can perform in the clutch. James Winchester will also likely be back as the team’s snapper again. The only question is Dustin Colquitt. Colquitt would be entering his 15th season in KC, but over the past few seasons we have seen some of his ability start to diminish. I actually expect Colquitt to be back considering the Chiefs don’t do much punting.

Grade: B

The Bottom Line

Despite some recent departures from some key players the Chiefs still have one of the most talented rosters in the NFL. Offensively, they return the majority of their star power and seem to have a plan for how to address the OL. The biggest questions lie on the defensive side of the ball. With the future of Chris Jones up in the air and inexperience in the CB corps, there will be vital decisions in the coming weeks that will further impact the roster.

Lowest Graded Unit: Cornerbacks

Highest Graded Units: Quarterbacks/Safety/ Tight End

As the weeks go on the team will have a chance to continue to improve its roster and address the weak spots. The draft will also be another chance for KC to work to build on its already championship roster.

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