Training camp paves the path to the first round of roster cuts from 90 to 75 occurs Sept. 1, followed by cuts from 75 to 53 on Sept. 5. The establishment of the 10-man practice squad can begin Sept. 6.
With those dates in mind, here is an initial prediction on the Chiefs’ 53-man roster – based on spring practices – before the pads come on in training camp.
• QUARTERBACKS (3): Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Aaron Murray
OVERVIEW: Murray showed flashes during spring practices, a positive sign his development is coming along. The former fifth-round pick continually improved his velocity, accuracy and touch during the practices. Tyler Bray’s development took a big blow when he was placed on injured reserve last year, and then suffered a torn ACL in January. He needed the time to continue his development at taking what the defense gives him.
MISSING THE CUT: Tyler Bray
• RUNNING BACKS (4): Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, Charcandrick West, Anthony Sherman
OVERVIEW: Charcandrick West and LaVance Taylor will be an intriguing battle during camp, as both have the running style and burst to succeed in the system. West has good vision, hits the hole with authority and can catch out of the backfield. Taylor is a decisive runner, good explosion and smooth catching out of the backfield. Davis has real competition from both and doesn’t fit the system as well as West and Taylor.
MISSING THE CUT: LaVance Taylor, Spencer Ware
• WIDE RECEIVERS (6): Jeremy Maclin, Albert Wilson, Jason Avant, De’Anthony Thomas, Chris Conley, Kenny Cook
OVERVIEW: The Chiefs have five wide receivers capable of beating press coverage at the line, running accurate routes and making the proper sight adjustments based on the safeties. Maclin, Wilson, Thomas and Conley provide an explosive group that will be a welcomed addition to this offense. Kenny Cook shined during spring practices by making tough contested catches look routine, he has a good catch radius and could be a very good redzone threat.
Junior Hemingway lacks the explosiveness of the receivers above, but will provide strong competition from his previous seasons and could find a spot. Williams also had a good spring and could find a spot with injuries. Brown will likely need more time to develop.
MISSING THE CUT: Junior Hemingway, Fred Williams, Frankie Hammond Jr, Da’Ron Brown, Armon Binns, Tello Luckett and Jeret Smith
• TIGHT ENDS (3): Travis Kelce, Richard Gordon, James O’Shaughnessy
OVERVIEW: Richard Gordon looked quicker during spring practices and provides a solid veteran who can run block and be a consistent contributor. James O’Shaughnessy made impressive catches down the seams during camp. He had a very good catch radius and make tough catches look effortless. Demetrius Harris was unable to practice because of a second foot surgery, so his status will be something to keep an eye on during camp.
MISSING THE CUT: Demetrius Harris, Ryan Taylor and Adam Schiltz
• OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (10): Eric Fisher, Ben Grubbs, Eric Kush, Jeff Allen, Donald Stephenson, Mitch Morse, Derek Sherrod, Paul Fanaika, Zach Fulton, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif
OVERVIEW: Collectively the offensive line looks much better this season. The Chiefs put their best five on the starting line and it included the necessary upgrades in athletic ability on the interior positions. The above is their best ten offensive linemen at this moment. It gives the Chiefs the opportunity to develop Morse, Fulton and Duvernay-Tardif in case Allen and Stephenson test the market in 2016.
MISSING THE CUT: Garrett Frye, Daniel Munyer, Jarrod Pughsley, Marcus Reed, Tavon Rooks
• DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (6): Mike DeVito, Allen Bailey, Jaye Howard, Mike Capatano, Vaughn Martin, Rakeem Nunez-Roches
OVERVIEW: The first four should be set in stone headed into the season, but the fifth and sixth spot will be the tough decision. With Dontari Poe out an extended period of time following back surgery, the Chiefs will likely need to decide between DeVito and Howard at nose tackle. Martin would provide depth at defensive end if either moved over. Rakeem Nunez-Roches gets the nod because he was the Chiefs pick.
MISSING THE CUT: David Irving, Charles Tuaau, Nick Williams, Hebron Fangupo, Jerel Worthy
• LINEBACKERS (9): Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Josh Mauga, Dee Ford, Josh Martin, DJ Alexander, Ramik Wilson, Frank Zombo
OVERVIEW: The linebacker position is likely set with only one or two spots open. Derrick Johnson’s health will be a big factor. Frank Zombo gets the final spot because of his versatility at both linebacker positions and his impact on special teams.
MISSING THE CUT: Sage Harold, James-Michael Johnson, Justin March, Dezman Moses
• CORNERBACKS (5): Phillip Gaines, Jamell Fleming, Marcus Peters, Steven Nelson, Marcus Cooper
OVERVIEW: The cornerback position seems to be settled at the top five positions, and it is really a battle for the sixth position on the roster. Sean Smith’s suspension will open up an opportunity for Marcus Cooper to make the roster.
MISSING THE CUT: Aaron Hester, Deji Olatoye, Kenny Penny, Kevin Short
• SAFETIES (5): Ron Parker, Husain Abdullah, Eric Berry, Tyvon Branch, Kelcie McCray
OVERIEW: The backup safety positions will be an interesting battle. Branch will likely secure a spot for his run support benefits but the question will be if they keep four or five spots. McCray gets the go ahead because of his impact on special teams last season.
MISSING THE CUT: Sanders Commings, Daniel Sorensen
• SPECIALISTS (3): Dustin Colquitt, Cairo Santos, James Winchester
OVERVIEW: Colquitt and Santos will make the roster without an competition. The only question mark is who the Chiefs go with a long snapper. Winchester gets the nod because of his NFL experience.
MISSNG THE CUT: Andrew East
• PRACTICE SQUAD (10): WR Da’ron Brown, LB Sage Harold, DT Charles Tuaau, OL Garrett Frye, DL David Irving, CB Deji Olatoye, OT Tavon Rooks, LB Justin March, RB LaVance Taylor, S Daniel Sorenson
OVERVIEW: With the exception of Taylor, who recently signed, the above players showed promise during spring practices, but need time to develop before they can make a consistent contribution to the roster.
• PYSICALLY UNABLE TO PERFORM (PUP) LIST (1): NT Dontari Poe
OVERVIEW: The loss of Poe will hurt the Chiefs for a portion of the regular season. Poe will need to be on the PUP list to give the team a roster spot if he is not healthy by cut-down time.
• SUSPENSION LIST (1): CB Sean Smith
OVERVIEW: Smith is suspended the first three games of the regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on substance abuse.
Nick Jacobs is a contributing writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @Jacobs71.