Predicting Chiefs’ 53-man roster: Version 2.0

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Brian Parker takes on linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi during a training camp practice on July 30, 2016 in St. Joseph, Mo. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal)
Kansas City Chiefs tight end Brian Parker takes on linebacker Jonathan Massaquoi during a training camp practice on July 30, 2016 in St. Joseph, Mo. (Emily DeShazer/The Topeka Capital-Journal)

Two preseason games are in the books along with the St.Joseph portion of training camp. Here is a look at the second edition of the 53-man roster projection.

Quarterback (3): Alex Smith, Nick Foles and Tyler Bray
Missing the cut:
Aaron Murray
Practice Squad: Kevin Hogan

The Chiefs are likely set at quarterback with the three listed above. Foles is the most polished of the backup quarterbacks. Bray has the best arm talent of the five quarterbacks and can make every throw on the field but likely needs reps on the practice field to read defenses. Murray continues to struggle with consistency on his throws.

Murray struggles to gauge wide receivers speeds with passes high, wide and behind. Hogan hasn’t seen many reps in the first preseason game and has had limited reps during training camp. He showed promise during the spring practices but hasn’t seen many looks since.

Running Back (5): Jamaal Charles, Charcandrick West, Spencer Ware, Anthony Sherman and Darrin Reaves
Missing the cut:
Knile Davis (trade opportunity) and Trey Millard

Eric Bieniemy has turned the backfield into a strength of the Chiefs. A majority of the running backs finish every play and treat every rep as if it decides their jobs. Charles, West, Ware and Reaves all run hard, pass protect well, and are receiving threats out of the backfield. Reaves could end up on the practice squad but may not make it through the waiver wire with what he has put on tape.

Charles, West and Ware are all capable of lining up at receiver positions and force mismatches against safeties and linebackers. Everyone listed above can also make an impact on special teams. Davis showed improved explosion, agility and ability to catch out of the backfield during camp but it did not translate in games.

Wide Receiver (6): Jeremy Maclin, Rod Streater, Chris Conley, Tyreek Hill, Albert Wilson and Demarcus Robinson
Missing the cut:
Frankie Hammond, Mitch Mathews, Kashif Moore and De’Anthony Thomas (trade opportunity)
Practice Squad: Da’Ron Brown and Seantavius Jones

Maclin, Streater, Conley and Hill have been the four best receivers at training camp. They all have good speed, catch the ball cleanly and are polished route runners. All are difference makers the roster could have utilized in 2015. Wilson could be on the bubble with his performance during camp.

Although Wilson was hurt for a portion of camp, he didn’t finish catches when he was on the field. He practiced like a player who felt he already had a roster spot locked up, while the four listed above treat every rep as if it is a difference in a win or loss. Robinson provides the most promise of the receivers left for the final spot. Thomas isn’t as polished of a route runner as Hill.

Tight End (3): Travis Kelce, Demetrius Harris, and Ross Travis
Missing the cut: James O’Shaughnessy and Brian Parker

Kelce, Harris and Travis provide the team with three athletic tight ends that can create multiple mismatches for safeties and linebackers. The Chiefs showed a set during their first preseason game with all players on the field. Travis was lined up in the slot against a Seahawks linebacker and executed a slant route for a first down. All three showed improved ability run blocking in the first game and showed no need for a fourth tight end. Parker had frequent drops and O’Shaughnessy hasn’t looked as explosive since his foot injury last season.

Offensive Line (7): Eric Fisher, Parker Ehinger, Mitch Morse, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Mitchell Schwartz, Zach Fulton and Jah Reid
Missing the cut: Jordan Devey, Curtis Feigt, Reid Fragel, Daniel Munyer, Drew Nowak and Zach Sterup
Practice Squad: Garrick Mayweather and Jarrod Pughsley

The Chiefs offensive line appears to be set with the starting five and two backups. The Chiefs are lacking a quality backup swing tackle that doesn’t appear to be on the roster. Fulton will likely be the immediate replacement at center or guard. Reid appears to be the immediate backup at swing tackle.

Sterup’s four-game suspension likely hurts his chances to make the practice squad. Mayweather gives the team promising guard to develop on the practice squad. He has a solid anchor but just needs refinements to his technique. Pughsley provides the Chiefs insurance at tackle if an injury were to occur.

Defensive Line (6): Jaye Howard, Dontari Poe, Allen Bailey, Chris Jones, Nick Williams and Rakeem Nunez-Roches
Missing the cut: David King (trade opportunity) and Jimmy Staten
Practice Squad: Niko Davis

The defensive line is interchangeable in their ability. Defensive line coach Britt Reid helped contribute to the development of Howard in 2015 and now can shape the entire defensive line. The group has shown an improvement in their pass rushing ability. Jones provides a good rotational player off the bench that can provide some starters rest.

Williams and Nunez-Roches are capable of playing multiple positions and have shown consistent improvement. King and Staten both have the ability to make this roster and could play elsewhere on Sundays. Davis showed good pass rush ability in the first preseason game and is worth developing on the practice squad.

Outside Linebacker (5): Tamba Hali, Frank Zombo, Dee Ford, Dadi Nicolas and Dezman Moses
Physically unable to perform: Justin Houston
Missing the cut: Andy Mulumba and Jonathan Massaquoi

Hali and Zombo provide the two best run defenders on the roster. Ford has been quiet in camp and preseason games but this is his opportunity to earn a starting position. The former first-round pick will need to develop counter moves and improve his ability shut down the edge in the run game. Nicolas showed promising speed, counter moves, and bend around the corner in his first preseason game.The sixth-round pick can provide help as a pass rush specialist while he improves his strength and run support.

Moses’ quad injury will determine his status but he provided good run support, consistent hustle and a solid pass rush in the first game. Mulumba and Massaquoi are both solid run defenders but haven’t shown much in explosive pass rush ability.

Inside Linebacker (5): Derrick Johnson, Josh Mauga, Justin March, Ramik Wilson and DJ Alexander
Missing the cut: Tyrell Adams
Practice Squad: Terrance Smith

Mauga has been sidelined from groin injury since early in training camp but provides a veteran that has been there before. March is likely the best option to start next to Johnson. The undrafted free agent provides an athletic mike linebacker that can effectively cover but will need game experience to reach his full potential. Wilson has struggled to get off blocks in games but can push for the mike linebacker position in the final two games. Alexander is a good special teams contributor and a potential replacement for Johnson down the road.

Cornerback (6): Marcus Peters, Phillip Gaines, Steven Nelson, D.J. White, KeiVarae Russell and Marcus Cooper
Missing the cut: Bryce Cheek, Malcolm Jackson and Shak Randolph
Practice Squad: Deveron Carr

The secondary group will face some growing pains with the lack of experience. That inexperience showed in a pick route the Rams converted into a touchdown the put them up by seven. Gaines has practiced in OTAs and training camp while he is being brought along at a steady pace from his ACL tear last year. Nelson has provided the team an aggressive corner that can play inside or outside and has been effective at both positions.

White was typically in the right position during training camp and impressive recovery speed when getting beat on a route. Russell has a knack for being in good position on plays. Cooper transitioned back to corner throughout training camp. He has played in 42 career games. Peters comes in second with 18 games played.

Safeties (4): Eric Berry, Ron Parker, Daniel Sorensen, and Eric Murray
Missing the cut: Jamell Fleming (trade opportunity), Jeron Johnson and Brock Vereen
Specialist (3) : Dustin Colquitt, Cairo Santos and James Winchester

Berry risks losing $635,647 for each week of the regular season he misses, so the possibility of seeing him return could increase as the season inches closer. Sorensen provides a strong safety, box safety and quality special teams player that is capable of delivering a punishing hit and a solid tackler in run support. Murray has seen a majority of his snaps during training camp at the safety position but is capable of playing corner in a pinch. The fourth-round pick will have some growing pains but the athletic ability to make up from some of his mistakes. Fleming is capable of making the roster because of his comfort in zone coverage it just depends on his ability versus Cooper to help in multiple spots.


Nick Jacobs is a contributing writer for Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @Jacobs71.