Projecting the Chiefs 53 man roster

The Chiefs cut the roster to 85 men after the first preseason loss, but who will be in the final 53?

The Chiefs lost their first pre-season game against the Bears Saturday. Wins and losses aren’t end all be all in the pre-season, but trying to figure out your best 53 certainly is. A lot of these cuts aren’t going to be easy to make, some of these players are going to be kept because they fit better on the team, even though they might have a good preseason.

There were many things that stood and you can find some of those thoughts here:

There were some major questions the Chiefs needed to have answered in the first game against Chicago. Questions like how many running backs do they keep, who are the fifth and sixth WRs to make the roster, and who is the odd man out in the DB room? It seems like some of the questions were answered in the loss to the Bears, and the first round of cuts was proof of that.

One thing is for sure, especially with Brett Veach at the helm, this roster will continually be re-worked. Let’s take a look at the first 53-man roster projection after the first round of cuts.

Quarterbacks (2)

Patrick Mahomes
Chad Henne

Patrick Mahomes and Chad Henne have been stalwarts in the QB room for three seasons, and don’t expect that to change after the preseason. This leaves Shane Buechele out of the rotation, I think he has more upside than Henne, but Reid tends to lean towards keeping veterans as the backup QB, and Henne has been a solid backup for the past two seasons. Kansas City won’t be able to stash Buechele like they did last year, so if they cut him, he can’t be kept on the practice squad.

Running backs (4)

Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Jerrick McKinnon
Isiah Pacheco
Michael Burton (FB)

The running back room was supposed to be a lot different than last season, the Chiefs went out and signed Ronald Jones and drafted Isiah Pacheco to compete with Clyde Edwards-Helaire. But it seems like RoJo is on his way out. Jones went from getting second-team reps at camp, to getting fourth-string reps. Jones also had a pitiful showing against the Bears, and the emergence of Pacheco, RoJo’s days in Kansas City are numbered.

Wide Receiver (6)

Juju Smith-Schuster
Skyy Moore
Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Mecole Hardman
Justin Watson
Daurice Fountain

Watson and Fountain seem to be further ahead of the next guys based on the reps and rotation in the Bears game. Josh Gordon hasn’t had a great camp and didn’t do anything to show he was ahead of either of the two receivers in Chicago. Cornell Powell may make a push for that last spot, but it’s an uphill battle for him after dropping easy catches in the second half.

Tight End (4)

Travis Kelce
Jody Fortson
Noah Gray
Blake Bell

Pretty straightforward here. Blake Bell may be on the bubble, but he has done enough to make the roster thus far.

Offensive Line (9)

Orlando Brown
Joe Thuney
Creed Humphrey
Trey Smith
Andrew Wylie
Geron Christian
Nick Allegretti
Austin Reiter
Prince Tengo Wanogho

This is going to be extremely interesting to track throughout the rest of the off-season. My surprise here is Prince Tengo Wanogho, I think he has a chance to make it because he’s shown to be a tackle with upside. Roderick Johnson did not look very good against the Bears and seems to be destined to be on the practice squad or cut. Darrian Kinnard, who they drafted in the fifth out of Kentucky, has had a rough camp and is a great practice squad candidate.

Specialists (3)

Harrison Butker
Tommy Townsend
James Winchester

Since there have been no backups brought in, no cuts or changes here unless Justin Reid can be consistent.

Defensive Line (10)

Interior Linemen

Chris Jones
Derrick Nnadi
Taylor Stallworth
Khalen Saunders
Tershawn Wharton

Edge Rushers

Frank Clark
Geroge Karlaftis
Carlos Dunlap
Mike Danna
Joshua Kaindoh

George Karlaftis may have stolen the show on Saturday but Khalen Saunders flashed at the defensive tackle position, it was great to see him out there healthy and flying around. Stallworth stood out to me as well, he had some exceptional reps along the interior. The last edge spot is still very weak, I have Kaindoh making it, but I would like to see Malik Herring take this spot. Kaindoh has had some great moments in camp, but he would be better suited to be on the practice squad as he hasn’t figured it out.

Defensive Back (10)


Juan Thornhill
Justin Reid
Deon Bush
Bryan Cook


La’Jarius Sneed
Trent McDuffie
Rashad Fenton
Joshua Williams
Jaylen Watson
DiCaprio Bootle

Like the offensive line battle, this DB battle is going to be one to keep an eye on. Lonnie Johnson had a terrible game against Chicago and struggled in camp, which led to him being cut on Monday. The Chiefs’ youth movement on the defensive side of the ball is evident in the DB room. My surprise here is probably DiCaprio Bootle, even though he has consistently been running with the two’s all camp he might make the roster and push Nazeh Johnson to the practice squad.

Linebacker (5)

Willie Gay Jr.
Nick Bolton
Elijah Lee
Leo Chenal
Jermaine Carter

Willie Gay is a star in the making, he was all over the field on Saturday. Gay and Bolton have brought stability and intelligence to the position which has struggled to be consistent in the Spagunoulo era. Expect Chenal and Carter to play a lot more in the second preseason game and to rotate in next to either Gay or Bolton.