The Chiefs are just a little more than a week away from their season opener against the New England Patriots. There are still last-minute touches general manager Brett Veach and the scouting department can make in some potential areas of concern. Here are some areas to keep in mind before the 53-man roster and waiver claims this weekend.
Backup swing offensive tackle (Check)
The Chiefs appeared headed into the season without a swing tackle that could fill in for Eric Fisher or Mitchell Schwartz, if they sustained an injury. Jah Reid struggles with his kick step on the edge and is more of a mauling guard than a finesse tackle.
Bryan Witzmann could potentially fill the role but he has seen extensive playing time at left guard with Parker Ehinger’s absence. Kansas City addressed need Wednesday with the addition of Cameron Erving.
The top three positions are arguably set with LCB Marcus Peters, RCB Terrance Mitchell and slot CB Steven Nelson. The secondary lacks depth behind the outside corner positions. Phillip Gaines has experienced peaks and valleys during the preseason. Kenneth Acker and De’Vante Bausby can both contribute on special teams but have been inconsistent in their overall coverage.
Speed wide receiver depth
Tyreek Hill appears the Chiefs’ most explosive receiver headed into the 2017 season. De’Anthony Thomas is the second-closest in speed but didn’t see similar snap counts to Hill on offense last season or during the preseason.
After Hill and Thomas are arguably four to five possession receivers that are unable to gain much separation from defenders. Chris Conley did run a 4.35 40-yard dash at the combine on his second attempt but that hasn’t appeared to translate to the football field yet. If Hill suffers an injury during the season, the Chiefs speed wide receiver cupboard appears bare.
Explosive running back depth
The Chiefs have a good balance of speed and power in Kareem Hunt. Charcandrick West had hamstring issues late in 2015 and an ankle injury early in 2016. C.J, Spiller experienced knee and ankle injuries in 2013, a broken collarbone in 2014 and a knee injury in 2015.
With Tyreek Hill’s importance at the receiver position, the ability to use him in the backfield may have an increased risk this season. An explosive back, who can hit the edge quickly would help this offense sustain manageable down and distances and eliminate negative runs.
Blocking Tight End
For the Chiefs’ run game improve effectiveness on the edges, they will need an enhancement at the blocking tight end position. The Chiefs have lacked effective run blockers at tight end since the departures of Anthony Fasano, Sean McGrath and Brian Parker.
Outside Linebacker depth
The Chiefs will head into the season with Justin Houston and Dee Ford as their likely starting edge rushers for the 2017 campaign. Tamba Hali has yet to return from the physically unable to perform (PUP) list. Those three players each have salary cap numbers of $8 million or more headed into the 2018 season.
Frank Zombo and Tanoh Kpassagnon currently provide additional depth behind Houston and Ford. If the opportunity presents itself to add a quality developmental player, the scouting department could help make the cap decisions easier in 2018.
Dates and times to keep in mind for the weekend.
Saturday, September 2nd: 3 p.m. CT
-Teams must reduce roster from 90 to 53 players on the Active/Inactive List
-Clubs with players on the PUP or non-football injury (NFI) list must place the player on Reserve/PUP or Reserve/NFI; request waivers, terminate contract, trade contract or continue to count the player on the active list
Sunday, September 3rd: 11 a.m. CT
– Claiming period for players place on waivers at final roster reduction expire
Sunday, September 3rd: noon CT
– Upon receipt of the personnel notice, clubs may establish a practice squad of 10 players. No club, including the player’s prior club, will be permitted to sign a player to a practice player contract until all clubs have received simultaneous notification that such player’s prior NFL player contract has been terminated via the waiver system.
-If a team is awarded a player from waiver claims and is at 53-active players. They must terminate a vested veteran (4 years or more of experience), trade a player, waive a player (less than 4 vested years) or place a player on injured reserved to open up that spot for the waiver claim.
-A vested veteran (4 years experience or more) is not subject to waiver claims, they can sign with any NFL team after they are released. They are not subject to waivers unless they are released after the trade deadline has passed.
-Waiver position is based on the 2017 NFL Draft Order before the picks were traded
Nick Jacobs is a contributing writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @Jacobs71.