Every season there are multiple guys who come seemingly out of nowhere to not only win a roster spot but find themselves in the starting lineup. With a rather veteran lineup entrenched it won’t be easy to surpass most but here are four guys who could find themselves as starters against the Browns.
Not often do four-year starters from SEC programs fall until the sixth round. The Chiefs feel that they may have gotten the steal of the 2021 draft with the Tennessee product, a two-time All-SEC and All-American who started 41 of a possible 42 games he played. Medical concerns dealing with blood clots caused his fall in the draft. A standout on and off the field, Smith was the 2019 Jason Witten Collegiate Man of the Year award recipient. With so much to like on paper and on film, it’s easy to see why the Chiefs are excited about Smith.
After the draft, it looked to be a Kyle Long vs. LDT battle at the right guard position. With Kyle Long on the mend and the assumption that the Canadian doctor is going to take time to get acclimated to playing in the NFL after a season off, Smith may have the inside track on this position battle. The talent is obvious, it may come down to how fast Smith can learn the system and gain the trust of the coaching staff.
Danna cracking the week one starting lineup is more a response to the Frank Clark situation than to my belief in his ability. Though none of us know what is going to transpire with Clark, there is a rather safe assumption that he will be missing some NFL games due to multiple arrests and current gun charges he’s facing.
I was surprised with Danna last year. I really like his motor and his work ethic. He can be sloppy with technique and find himself out of position on the edge at times. But for a rookie, and a fifth-rounder at that, I was intrigued with the 2020 production we had from the Michigan product.
If things get absolutely dire the veteran edge market still has some names out there like Justin Houston, Melvin Ingram, Olivier Vernon, and Everson Griffen to name a few. The Chiefs also could get creative and use Chris Jones opposite Taco Charlton, I think in base sets Jones will be in the middle so for arguments sake I’m picking Danna to get the nod over a rather thin group of inexperienced defensive ends that currently on the Chiefs roster.
Corner, outside of defensive end, is my biggest concern on this roster. I was fully expecting Bashaud Breeland to return to Kansas City. Now I am still hoping for some sort of veteran signing either before camp or after cuts. I’m not trying to slight any of the corners on the roster because, in all honesty, I feel that I am higher on them individually than most of the pundits out there. My fear is depth, which is razor thin and seemingly all have missed NFL time because of injury for portions of their careers including the aforementioned Hughes.
Mike Hughes is a first-year Chief after coming over in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings. Hughes is a former first-round pick who possesses tremendous speed and coverage skills but has the inability to stay on the field. For the Royals fan out there he is essentially Aldeberto Mondesi. If he can break camp healthy I feel that he is our second-best corner outside of L’Jarious Sneed. He has the versatility to play both outside on the boundary and the slot inside. If the Chiefs don’t feel the need to bring anyone else in I fully expect a starting rotation of Hughes, Sneed, and Charvarious Ward.
As a K-State fan to go along with my Chiefs fandom I am usually near the top of the Byron Pringle fan club. Though his name does not exude the confidence of a player like Sammie Watkins as the starter at the X-receiver position, I have faith in his ability to match the production that Sammie brought to the Chiefs over the last three seasons. His physicality and willingness to block on the edge are giant attributes that instantly catch a coaching staffs eye. He also has shown a willingness to play underneath and be a large target near the redzone. Those are giant needs that open up the outside for our burners, Hill and Hardman, and also takes some of the pressure off of Kelce in the middle of the field as well.
I understand that a 27-year-old UDFA with only 25 career catches going into the season as one of your starting wide receivers doesn’t exude a whole lot of excitement. There just seems to be something there with Pringle, this may be the last opportunity for him and I believe he is ready to pounce on it. This receiving core I have lots of faith in because I feel the unit is a whole lot stronger than the individual pieces. Pringle along with Mecole Hardman, Cornell Powell, and others I feel are going to surprise a lot of teams.