Here is an updated projection of the Chiefs’ 53-man roster based on 11 full-team training camp practices and one preseason game under the team’s belt.
• QUARTERBACKS (3): Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Aaron Murray
OVERVIEW: The three quarterbacks should be in place at this point. Daniel provides the organization a serviceable veteran who can execute the system and has won a game in the NFL. Murray has continually improved on the field from a mechanics perspective, but needs to work on his consistency with throws. Tyler Bray, who recovers from an ACL injury, has yet to see the field in almost a year, which will likely lead to injured reserve or being waived by the organization.
MISSING THE CUT: Tyler Bray (IR Candidate)
• RUNNING BACKS (4): Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, Charcandrick West, Anthony Sherman
OVERVIEW: Charcandrick West likely secured the No. 3 running back spot left vacant when the Chiefs released Cyrus Gray prior to training camp. Spencer Ware has had drops during camp, but has good speed and is one of the better pass blockers on the roster. Darrin Reaves is a physical runner, but doesn’t provide the same threat West can provide out of the backfield.
MISSING THE CUT: Darrin Reaves, Spencer Ware
• WIDE RECEIVERS (6): Jeremy Maclin, Albert Wilson, Jason Avant, De’Anthony Thomas, Chris Conley, Da’Ron Brown
OVERVIEW: The top five receivers are already established on this roster, and are very good route runners with an ability to consistently beat press coverage during camp. Da’Ron Brown was able to separate himself from the rest of the pack with his routes over the middle. He had an impressive deep post during camp, but has made his money on crosses, digs and slants. Brown has a similar skill set as Avant for down the road.
The receivers cut below lack explosiveness, ability to separate or a consistency when catching the football. Williams will be the toughest cut of the bunch, but could find a roster spot if they reduce the number at linebacker or defensive back.
MISSING THE CUT: Fred Williams, Junior Hemingway, Frankie Hammond Jr., Kenny Cook, L’Damian Washington, Adam Drake, Donatella Luckett, Jeret Smith
• TIGHT ENDS (3): Travis Kelce, Richard Gordon, James O’Shaughnessy
OVERVIEW: Richard Gordon has been consistent during camp and made some impressive one-handed grabs in tight coverage. Gordon doesn’t look overwhelmed as a run blocker and is a reliable receiver. James O’Shaughnessy made impressive catches down the seams during spring practices but once the pads came on, his issues began to show. He had a tough time with catch the football and looked over-matched from a strength perspective in run blocking.
O’Shaughnessy’s struggle looks similar to that of Tony Gonzalez’s rookie season. The fifth-round pick running with the first-team offense is good indicator of how they view his long-term impact. Taylor has consistently caught the football and blocked well. If any injury occurs, then Taylor would be the next man up. Demetrius Harris has been unable to practice because of a second foot surgery.
MISSING THE CUT: Demetrius Harris, Ryan Taylor, Adam Schiltz
• OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (9): Eric Fisher, Ben Grubbs, Mitch Morse, Jeff Allen, Donald Stephenson, Eric Kush, Zach Fulton, Paul Fanaika, Jarrod Pughsley
OVERVIEW: The Chiefs have had their struggles in camp at the center and right tackle position, and will likely need to look for an additional veteran before the season begins. Morse has a high pad level, but has better strength than Kush, who needs to work on his lower body strength to help when he re-anchors.
Fulton and Fanaika are both a little stiff in their bend. Pughsley provides the team a good project for the future, but would likely be snatched up on the open market. Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was cut because he hasn’t appeared to have taken the step forward in this system and is still susceptible to similar rushes as last year.
MISSING THE CUT: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Garrett Frye, Daniel Munyer, Anthony Dima, Marcus Reed, Tavon Rooks
• DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6)*: Mike DeVito, Allen Bailey, Jaye Howard, Mike Capatano, Vaughn Martin, David Irving
**NOTE***: Dontari Poe has been on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list in training camp while he recovers from back surgery, and is a candidate for the reserve/PUP list. He will not count against the 53-man roster if he starts the season on the reserve/PUP list.\
OVERVIEW: The Chiefs has a stout run defense with Mike DeVito, Allen Bailey and Mike Catapano. Jaye Howard provides the team a quick penetrating nose tackle capable of handling the double team and can be incredibly disruptive in the backfield. Nunez-Roches is going to take time to develop on the practice squad.
Martin provides the team a stout defender with serviceable pass rushing skills and Irving would be a very tough player to hide on the practice squad. A cover-two defense would snatch up his pass rushing skills very quickly on the open market. Fangupo and Tuaau have had some solid moments during camp, but don’t provide the versatility and skill set that Martin or Irving can.
MISSING THE CUT: Hebron Fangupo, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Charles Tuaau, Nick Williams
• LINEBACKERS (9): Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Josh Mauga, Dee Ford, Justin March, Dezman Moses, Ramik Wilson, Frank Zombo
OVERIVEW: March has shown flashes on the field in pads with some of the more memorable defensive plays from camp and is a high effort player. Moses looks much quicker this season and has been a consistent edge rusher compared to Martin. Alexander suffered a high-ankle sprain and is a candidate for injured reserve with a designation to return depending on the recovery timetable.
James-Michael Johnson has yet to practice this camp with a calf injury. Wilson is a stout run defender and continually gets better in coverage. Zombo is one of the more reliable players on special teams.
MISSING THE CUT: Josh Martin, D.J. Alexander (IR Candidate), James-Michael Johnson
• CORNERBACKS (5)*: Phillip Gaines, Jamell Fleming, Marcus Peters, Steven Nelson, Marcus Cooper
\*NOTE**: Sean Smith will serve a three-game suspension to start the season and will not count against 53-man roster.\
OVERVIEW: The cornerback position will be a unique situation. Marcus Cooper and Sanders Commings are potentially battling for the final roster spot when Smith returns or if Poe is kept on the active roster. The Chiefs have been testing Sanders Commings at the nickel position and receivers have had a tough time getting off his press coverage.
Commings two pass interferences in the preseason game hurt his chances. Cooper has had a better camp and didn’t accrue any pass interference calls. Olatoye would be the toughest cut because of his potential.
MISSING THE CUT: Deji Olatoye, Aaron Hester, Kenny Penny, Kevin Short
• SAFETIES (5): Ron Parker, Husain Abdullah, Tyvon Branch, Eric Berry, Kelcie McCray
OVERVIEW: The Chiefs are set at the safety position and will likely be cutting quality players that can find spots on other NFL rosters. Commings could give the organization a nickel cornerback, a fifth safety that allows them to ease Berry back into the grind and can also be a special teams contributor but the pass interferences hurt his status at safety.
MISSING THE CUT: Sanders Commings, Daniel Sorensen
• SPECIALISTS (3): Dustin Colquitt, Cairo Santos, James Winchester
OVERVIEW: Colquitt and Santos will make the roster without any competition. The only question mark is who the Chiefs go with a long snapper. Winchester gets the nod because of his NFL experience.
MISSING THE CUT: Andrew East
• PRACTICE SQUAD (10): WR L’Damian Washington, OT Tavon Rooks, C Daniel Munyer, DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DL Charles Tuaau, CB Deji Olatoye, S Daniel Sorensen, WR Jeret Smith, CB Kenny Penny, OG Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
OVERVIEW: Washington came into the system late and likely needs time before he can reach his full potential. Rooks has shown enough promise to warrant a spot. Munyer is a scrappy offensive lineman and can hold his own against bull rushers. Nunez-Roches doesn’t have the strength to compete yet. Tuaau needs time to develop physically, but the instincts are there.
Olatoye has been a consistent corner and could find a spot next season. Sorenson got pushed out because of a numbers game, but would be a nice addition on the squad. Smith showed flashes during camp as a possession receiver. Penny has showcased good athletic ability and instincts in camp. Duvernay-Tardif would be a good developmental player on the practice squad.