Projecting the Chiefs 53 man roster

Training Camp is here, and with it brings competition to make the final 53. Here is how the final roster could shake out.

Quarterback: (Two) Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne

This was the easiest position group on the entire list. Henne will return to backup Mahomes for another season, and while it is tempting to add Shane Buchele to the active roster there are far too many positions of need to justify having more than two quarterbacks on the active roster.

Running Back: (Five) Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Ronald Jones, Jerrick McKinnon, Isiah Pacheco, Michael Burton

The running back group drastically underperformed in 2021, and the early reports from camp are that all the players in the unit are being given an equal opportunity to compete. Edwards-Helaire enters the season with the most to prove of any player on the team. Ronald Jones will bring some big play ability, but will also have something to prove as his time in Tampa Bay did not end on a positive. I believe that if CEH can come in healthy and return to his 2020 form, same with Jones, they will both easily make the roster. This is where it gets interesting. Jerrick McKinnon was a breakout playoff performer, and a good relationship with Patrick Mahomes should keep him on the roster. Rookie Isiah Pacheco will make the final cut due to his explosive special teams and big play potential. This will leave Derrick Gore off the roster at the start of camp, but I would expect to see him at some point in the season. Andy Reid has always carried a fullback so that should secure Michael Burton a roster spot.

Tight End: (Four) Travis Kelce, Jody Forton, Blake Bell, Noah Gray

While there will be competition for reps this unit seems nearly set. Travis Kelce is one of the best players in the league and the best at his position. With his age increasing it will be important that the team continues to rotate talent accordingly and manage his snaps. This will open up spots for Jody Fortson to find the field, after missing most of the 2021 season with an Achilles injury. Blake Bell should reprise his role as a primary blocking tight end, while Noah Gray will look to continue to develop his game and grow his role as the team’s F-Back.

Offensive Line: (Nine) Orlando Brown Jr., Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith, Andrew Wylie, Darian Kinnard, Nick Allegretti, Austin Reiter, Roderick Johnson

Orlando Brown Jr. the team is in the midst of an ugly contract dispute and his status for camp will be in question. When he is back he will without question be the starter at left tackle. In the meantime, players like Roderick Johnson will have a chance to show the coaches what they can do and fight for a chance to earn a roster spot. Lucas Niang will likely be on the injured list to start the season so that also opens up more of a chance for Andrew Wylie to earn the starting right tackle job. The interior will remain the same with Nick Allegretti and Austin Reiter as backups. Darian Kinnard will be given a chance to compete right away for the right tackle spot, but seeing him as the swing tackle for this year seems like the most likely option.

Wide Reciever: (Six) JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdez-Scantling, Skyy Moore, Mecole Hardman, Josh Gordon, Justin Watson

Mecole Hardman and Josh Gorden will be the only playesr returning to the wide receiver room from last season, and as camp heats up all eyes will be on this unit that should feature new faces. JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdez-Scantling joined the team in free agency, both on prove-it contracts. They will have plenty of opportunities to show what they can do and try to claim the WR1 spot. Stock is rising all over for Skyy Moore, and reports from camp are that the rookie looks sharp and is competing early on. That leaves the final two spots for Josh Gordon and Justin Watson. Gordon has a second chance at an NFL career and can carve out a role as a rotational and situational player, but he must improve his consistency to make the roster. Watson has been a solid backup throughout his career, but given that he is a four-phase special teams player it seems likely Dave Toub will want to use his services.

Specialists: (Three) Tommy Townsend, Harrison Butker, James Winchester

No surprises here, the KPS squad will be re-united for another go-around.

Defensive Line: (Ten) Chris Jones, Frank Clark, Carlos Dunlap, Derrick Nnadi, George Karlaftis, Mike Danna, Khalen Saunders, Tershawn Wharton, Malik Herring.

This unit will be under the magnifying glass all season long, and rightfully so. Chris Jones is an elite pass rusher in the NFL, but his performance in the AFCCG will have many fans clamoring for more. A late summer signing saw the Chiefs land free agent pass rusher Carlos Dunlap who despite being 33 years old has put up consecutive productive seasons while playing for Seattle. Frank Clark returns to play likely his final year in KC after a lackluster 2021 season. First-round pick George Karlaftis will likely need some time to develop and show he can play at the NFL level, but with his strength and power, he will likely be a contributor later down the line. After that, it is kind of a mixed bag as far as talent. Derrick Nnadi returns on a one-year deal, one of the game’s best-run stuffers he will play a key role once more in containing the opposition’s ground attack. Mike Danna, Khalen Saunders, Tershawn Wharton, and Malik Herring will all be fighting for playing time, and if one of them shines they could end up being the missing link.

Linebackers: (5) Nick Bolton, Willie Gay, Leo Chenal, Elijah Lee, Jermaine Carter

What the Chiefs lack in numbers at this spot they make up for with talent. Nick Bolton will look to build on a stellar rookie year as he will take on the role of the captain of the defense. He will be joined by Willie Gay, who is looking to have a breakout year after two consecutive seasons of showing major flashes. The rookie Leo Chenal will be a major contributor, a freak of nature whose versatility will get him on the field early and often. Elijah Lee is a homegrown product, and a perfect locker room fit for the Chiefs. The five-year NFL veteran has mostly been a backup and special teams player since he entered the league, but his relentless effort should help him find the field where he is a jack of all trades at the linebacker position. Jermaine Carter is a hard hitter with starting experience from his days in Carolina. He will likely play a reserve and special teams role for the Chiefs this season.

Defensive Backs: (9) Justin Reid, Trent McDuffie, Bryan Cook, L’Jarius Sneed, Rashad Fenton, Juan Thornhill, Joshua Williams, Deon Bush, Lonnie Johnson

Of all the position groups to watch in camp, the defensive backs will be the most interesting. With the most turnover of any group on the roster, the defensive back unit could feature up to six new faces. L’Jarius Sneed, Juan Thornhill, and Rashad Fenton will all be in the starting rotation and will likely play significant roles. The Chiefs moved up to get Trent McDuffie and early indications are that they expect him to start early on. Bryan Cook and Joshua Williams were both mid-round picks with tons of upside who can both see the field with solid play. The team signed Bush and traded for Lonnie Johnson who will both likely be reserves and special teams aces.

Injured to start the season: Lucas Niang

Possible Practice Squad: Jerrion Ealy, Derrick Gore, Jaylen Watson, Shane Buechele, Nazeeh Johnson, Zayne Anderson, Devon Key, Mike Rose, Josh Kaindoh, Chris Glaser, Prince Tega Wonogho, Geron Christian, Mike Caliendo, Daurice Fountain, Austin Edwards, Taylor Stalworth, Aaron Parker, Dicaprio Bootle, Cornell Powell, Kehinde Oginni