The Chiefs head to the windy city on Saturday for their first preseason game, and it is finally time to see who is going to make the cut.
The first pre-season game is upon us and it couldn’t come soon enough. The training camp storylines are getting a little out of hand at this point. For example, Isiah Pacheco seems to be in the Hall of Fame before he takes a single handoff or catches his first pass for the Chiefs. Pacheco will have a lot of anticipation surrounding his debut on Saturday, but there are plenty of other players to keep your eyes on as the Chiefs play Chicago.
Multiple position battles are happening on both sides of the ball, players not only vying for a roster spot but also playing time on special teams and roles in different packages. Additionally, a huge thing to keep in mind for players on the bubble, they are not only competing against players in their position, they are also competing to be more valuable to the team than other players at other positions. A good example of this is the running back position this year, the Chiefs traditionally keep three halfbacks and one fullback. It seems this year they could potentially keep four halfbacks with Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Isiah Pacheco, Ronald Jones, and Jerrick McKinnon. If they keep four backs, that bumps someone off the roster at another position.
Since everyone is already going to have their eyes on Pacheco and the rest of the running back room, let’s talk about five other players to watch Saturday against the Bears.
The Chief’s wide receiver situation has been in the spotlight most of this off-season, with Kansas City trading away Tyreek Hill and completely revamping the room. Right now Juju Smith-Schuster, Skyy Moore, Mecole Hardman, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are locks to make the roster. The fifth and sixth spots are still up for grabs, unfortunately for Gordon, he seems to be struggling mightily to find his rhythm in the offense this offseason. A more detailed report is told in Nate Taylor’s article in The Athletic, as he talked about how the Chiefs looked before the first preseason game.
Gordon is now listed behind Daurice Fountain and Justin Watson on the Chiefs’ first unofficial depth chart, which honestly really means nothing. However, Special Teams coach Dave Toub pointed out how Fountain and Watson could be special teams contributors, meaning they could make the roster even if they don’t perform well offensively. Both Fountain and Watson have outplayed Gordon up to this point in camp. Gordon might need a really good game against the Bears to make it through cuts before Week One.
Christian is a former third-round offensive tackle out of Lousiville, he came to the Chiefs via free agency this year and has been competing at both left and right in camp. Christian comes in with the possibility of getting the starting job at right tackle, but recently he has been splitting first-team snaps at right tackle with Andrew Wylie. There has been an interesting competition happening at right tackle since Lucas Niang won’t be ready to start the season, due to his recovery from a torn Achilles tendon.
Wylie will make the roster and is a great player to have on the offensive line because he brings depth and reliability on both sides of the line. However, Wylie’s play in camp hasn’t been great and he’s better suited to be an emergency replacement on the right side, which isn’t a good sign for Christian. The Chiefs also drafted Darrian Kinnard out of Kentucky to play right tackle, but he does not seem to be in the running for the starting job so far. With a good showing on Saturday, Christian could definitely push Wylie out of contention for the starting right tackle, but it is an uphill climb.
Joshua Williams has been running with the ones early and often at camp, impressive to say the least for a fifth-round rookie cornerback drafted out of Division II Fayetteville State. Williams has taken advantage of the absence of Rashad Fenton and has flourished, Williams has played everywhere in the defensive backfield and seems to make play after play. Williams should see himself as a piece of the defense that rebuilt its secondary in the offseason, and he will have to show a lot in Chicago if he wants to have meaningful playing time this season.
Williams is probably going to be a rotational piece in the secondary, but a great preseason could force the hand of the Chiefs’ defensive staff to have him be in more packages during the regular season.
Malik Herring / Joshua Kaindoh
The biggest question mark coming into camp this year was definitely the defensive line, however, some of those questions are starting to get answered. Frank Clark is reportedly in the best shape of his life, getting to his lowest playing weight since he played for Seattle, after giving up liquor and red meat this off-season. Kansas City drafted George Karlaftis in the first round, signed free agent Carlos Dunlap, and Mike Danna has been stable and provides the depth they need. It’s now time to see if Malik Herring and Joshua Kaindoh can make some noise off the edge this pre-season. Both have flaws but are intriguing prospects with a ton of room for growth.
Herring has shown more flashes than Kaindoh and let’s see if those flashes are visible in the preseason.
For those of you who don’t know or don’t follow me on Twitter ( https://twitter.com/jdiz1617 ), I was in love with Skyy Moore pre-draft. Then when Kansas City drafted him, I was elated.
Moore hasn’t disappointed thus far in camp, putting on a show with every route run and pass caught. Moore’s game has seemingly translated to the Chiefs, his route running and solid hands have been seen with every rep. He is tremendous off the line, smooth and explosive, and attacks the ball in the air. It is well known that an Andy Reid offense is tough to learn for a rookie, and that may be true, but he’s already lining up out wide, in the slot, and in the backfield. He is taking reverses, handoffs, and making circus catches with ease. Moore already seems to be one of the most intriguing wide receivers the Chiefs have ever had.
These players are the ones to watch for, but it’s understandable if most fans aren’t interested in all of these. There are some other, more popular players, that Chiefs fans can’t wait to see like Trent McDuffie, Bryan Cook, Leo Chenal, and Jaylen Watson. The Chiefs’ defense is going to be so much more athletic this year and a lot of these young guys are the reason why. I am looking forward to seeing how it all comes together.
This first pre-season game is a big step towards finalizing the roster. However, the Kingdom knows with Brett Veach, he’s always going to be looking to improve the roster whenever he can. He’s already cut Deandre Baker and he just recently signed defensive tackle Danny Shelton. The Chiefs have been and always will be about putting out the best product on the field and the first preseason game will show the Kingdom who can play and who’s going home.