OTA’s have started, but it’s still too early to tell much of anything. The real hitting doesn‘t start until training camp, and the real performance reviews don’t start til after the first preseason game. Sometimes all we have left to do is look forward. That’s right, I’m talking about roster predictions. Without further ado, here is my too early, sure to go wrong, under-cooked roster prediction for the 2017 Kansas City Chiefs:
The Two Quarterbacks (2)
1. Alex Smith 2. Patrick Mahomes
Right off the bat, I’m going to get a little crazy. Chiefs have carried three QBs ever year since Reid got here. I think this is the year they should go with two. They have a ton of depth to fit on the roster, Bray is never going to amount to much and, if he looks like he might, Chiefs will probably just trade him. Cutting him also saves 1.3m in cap space with no dead money. Stave should make it through to the practice squad. Chiefs can roll with just two, if both get hurt, they’ll be screwed anyway.
The Running Backs (4)
3. Kareem Hunt 4. Spencer Ware 5. CJ Spiller 6. Anthony Sherman
Chiefs move on from friendly, fan favorite Charcandrick West. He’s a guy I really like, but Chiefs have better options at RB and Spiller offers more on STs. Sherman is a leader on STs and Chiefs wouldn’t save any money by cutting him.
The Wide Receivers (6)
7. Jeremy Maclin 8. Tyreek Hill 9. Chris Conely 10. DeMarcus Robinson 11. Jehu Chesson 12. DeAnthony Thomas
Chiefs roll with six WRs again, but Chesson supplants Wilson and DeMarcus Robinson moves up to the #4 spot. DAT sticks around because he can return both punts and kicks, freeing up Tyreek Hill for more duties on offense. He’s also the only guy on the roster who could fill some of Hill’s role on offense in case of injury.
The Tight Ends (3)
13. Travis Kelce 14. Gavin Escobar 15. Ross Travis
For all the TEs they had on the roster last year, they mostly used Kelce. Assuming Demetrius Harris gets suspended, Chiefs will enter the season with three TEs. By the time he’s ready to come back, Chiefs are ready to move on. Escobar can contribute in the passing game and STs, Travis last name gets a chance to prove he can make the leap this year. If either falters, they’ll be cut when Harris comes back. If Emanuel Byrd proves himself a solid blocker, he could beat one of these two, or force Chiefs to keep four TEs again.
The 3 on Special Teams
16. Dustin Colquitt 17. Cairo Santos 18. James Winchester
No surprises here.
Offensive Line (8)
19. Eric Fisher 20. Parker Ehinger 21. Mitch Morse 22. Laurent Duvernet-Tardif 23. Mitchell Schwartz 24. Bryan Witzmann 25. Zach Fulton 26. Damien Mama
Jah Reid gets traded or cut. Chiefs need money and dropping his contract gives them 2m in cap relief. Bryan Witzmann steps up to the Swing Tackle role and Chiefs refill their depth at RG with a great UDFA signee: Damien Mama. Mama needs to keep his weight under control, but he’s strong, moves well and can be a force in the run game as an extra blocker while he polishes his game. If Chiefs can sneak Mama onto mystery IR, they might keep Andrew Tiller instead. Also, yo’ Mama is so fat…
The Safeties (4)
27. Eric Berry 28. Ron Parker 29. Daniel Sorenson 30. Eric Murray
Most stable position on the roster. Chiefs may decide to keep a 5th safety to play STs, but roster spots will be hard to come by.
The Corner Backs (6)
31. Marcus Peters 32. Terrence Mitchell 33. Steven Nelson 34. Philip Gaines 35. DJ White 36. Leon McQuay III
McQuay takes Acker’s spot. The rest of the roster stays pretty much the same. Chiefs have some great talent at the top and a lot of potential in their depth. I could see them trading one of these guys if they want to keep Acker, Bausby or Lampkin. Chiefs will give Baptiste a long look, but I doubt things suddenly click for him.
The Outside Linebackers (5)
37. Justin Houston 38. Dee Ford 39. Dadi Nicholas 40. Tamba Hali 41. Tourek Williams
Chiefs can save a million dollars if they cut Frank Zombo. Williams might not be quite as good as a pass rusher (though neither is great), but he may be a superior STs player and will probably be playing for vet minimum. Nicholas is still healing, but he has more potential than Chiefs other depth options. Tanoh Kpassagnon might need to take some reps as an outside rusher if none of these guys step up.
The Inside Linebackers (6)
42. Derrick Johnson 43. DJ Alexander 44. Ramik Wilson 45. Justin March-Lillard 46. Terrence Smith 47. Ukeme Eligwe
Six ILBs seems like a stretch, Chiefs have rarely carried more than four or five. That said, Chiefs have a lot of guys who could be something, but no sure things. LBs tend to be good STs players, so if Chiefs are going to be heavy at a particular position, this might be it. March is on the bubble for me. The greatest ability is availability, and March hasn’t been healthy for a whole season yet. If Chiefs get to the point where they’re comfortable with their starters, and the guys directly behind them on the depth chart, the lowest man on the totem pole will be the victim of Dorsey’s latest, greatest, waiver wire claim.
The Defensive Line (6)
48. Bennie Logan 49. Allen Bailey 50. Chris Jones 51. Tanoh Kpassagnon 52. Rakeem Nunez-Rochez 53. Ricky Ali’ifua
Chiefs run more looks with 2 down linemen than three, but they have enough guys who can play DT to spend a roster spot a rushing DE. Ali’ifua has a nice base and is explosive out of his stance. If Chiefs can add another 10 pounds to his frame, he could probably play DT, but, for now, he’s a pass rushing rotational DE and he’s easy on the cap.
With 53 players on the roster, I predict that two UDFAs will make the roster this year (Mama and Ali’ifua). Chiefs will probably roll with 3 QBs and 5ILBs, but I had an easier time cutting Bray than any of our LB prospects, even if it is just on paper. Competition at WR and Safety is going to be tough. The bottom guy at each of those positions is going to have to work his tail off. I expect Chiefs to make multiple trades this off-season. Though some of them will probably be for pretend 7th round picks (seriously, is 7th round pick so valuable that we have to make them conditional now?). This is a roster with a lot of potential but, if Chiefs find a way to add a sure thing at ILB or OLB, they better do it. Go Chiefs.
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