With the Chiefs first preseason game on the horizon, here is a snapshot at the 53-man roster projection. These predictions are based on observations at three training camp practices in pads.
A PS designation means there is potential for them on the practice squad. The players jersey numbers are also included before their name.
11 Alex Smith, 15 Patrick Mahomes and 9 Tyler Bray
Smith has been steady during his time at training camp. He appears accurate and willing to push the ball more aggressively downfield into some tight windows.
Mahomes appears overwhelmed with the speed at times during team drills. The first-round pick shows a unique calmness when the pocket is collapsing around him and a special ability to make tough throws look routine. He will need to learn to play for another down at times but tons of potential there.
Bray begins his fifth season with the organization. He still throws a spectacular deep ball with a very quick release but both quarterbacks are buying time shares until Mahomes is ready.
Out: 8 Joel Stave (PS)
Running Back/Fullback (4)
32 Spencer Ware, 27 Kareem Hunt, 35 Charcandrick West and 42 Anthony Sherman
Ware and Hunt appear front runners at the running back position. West showed some his quick burst from the 2015 season at training camp and has arguably the most speed at the position.
Sherman is a huge asset on special teams and run blocking. Spiller shows flashes of his form before injuries but not enough to push West off the 53-man roster.
Redding has shown a strong work ethic and relentlessness in his running style but needs more time to hone his skills.
Out: 26 C.J. Spiller and 40 Devine Redding (PS)
Wide Receivers (6)
10 Tyreek Hill, 17 Chris Conley, 12 Albert Wilson, 13 De’Anthony Thomas, 80 Jehu Chesson and 14 Demarcus Robinson
Hill is arguably the most important asset in the Chiefs vertical passing game. The second-year veteran forces both safeties to remain out of the box and limit the bracket coverage Kelce faces.
Conley will likely be the second option in the Chiefs passing attack. Wilson provides the team a solid returner and a receiver knowledgeable of the scheme.
Thomas is potentially insurance for some of Hill’s role in the offense and a key asset in special teams as a returner and gunner. Chesson will likely help in a role similar to Jason Avant.
Robinson provides the team a developmental slot possession receiver and a very good gunner. Seantavius Jones remains in the battle for the final spot on the roster and needs a strong preseason to pull it off. Kemp has shown enough promise to warrant a practice squad position.
Out: 81 Seantavius Jones (PS) , 7 Marcus Kemp (PS) , 6 Tevin Jones, 4 Gehrig Dieter, 1 Tony Stevens, 82 Robert Wheelwright
Tight Ends (3)
87 Travis Kelce, 89 Gavin Escobar and 85 Orson Charles
Kelce’s knee injury will potential determine if the numbers change here. Escobar provides a reliable receiver at the second tight end spot. He has good size and knows how to properly utilize his build to box out defenders.
Charles is another reliable option at the position and showcased good speed to lock down the third spot. Harris has performed well at camp but still struggles in run blocking and loses focus at time.
Travis is inconsistent catching the football and timing his jumps. He also struggles in the run blocking department.
Out: 84 Demetrius Harris and 88 Ross Travis
Offensive Line (8)
72 Eric Fisher, 70 Bryan Witzmann, 61 Mitch Morse, 76 Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, 71 Mitchell Schwartz, 73 Zach Fulton, 75 Jah Reid and 62 Isaiah Battle
The Chiefs typically dress seven linemen on game day. This initial projection allows the team to keep an additional lineman safe until they know the status of Parker Ehinger.
Reid struggled with speed rushers during camp but remains a veteran presence that can help at guard if injuries force Fulton to play center. Battle shows good growth in his base and punch during camp that could be tough to keep off another NFL roster.
PUP: 79 Parker Ehinger
Out: 67 Joseph Cheek, 65 Jordan Devey, 77 Donald Hawkins, 66 Josh James, 64 Damien Mama (PS) , 68 Mike Person and 60 Andrew Tiller
Defensive Line (7)
95 Chris Jones, 96 Bennie Logan, 97 Allen Bailey, 99 Rakeem Nunez-Roches, 92 Tanoh Kpassagnon, 98 Roy Miller and 93 David King
The number at this position could easily drop to six depending on the status of Jones and the potential addition at outside linebacker or cornerback. Miller gives the team a reliable rotational run-stuffer to pair with Logan. King is a solid pass rusher that could help in nickel packages.
Out: 94 Jarvis Jenkins, 77 Cam Thomas, 98 Ricky Ali’fua and 74 Maurice Swain
Outside Linebackers (4)
50 Justin Houston, 91 Tamba Hali, 55 Dee Ford and 51 Frank Zombo
The Chiefs top four positions are likely settled but the team could utilize an additional rusher that likely doesn’t reside on the roster at this time.
PUP: 52 Dadi Nicolas
Out: 44 Earl Okine, 54 Marcus Rush
Inside Linebackers (5)
56 Derrick Johnson, 90 Josh Mauga, 57 Kevin Pierre-Louis, 45 Ukeme Eligwe and 59 Justin March-Lillard
Mauga gets the nod over Wilson at the inside linebacker position. Wilson could change his fortune with a strong preseason showcasing his ability to get off blocks.
Pierre-Louis provides a good special teams player. He also has a great deal of potential in getting off blocks and in pass coverage drops.
Eligwe has a ton of athletic promise at the inside linebacker position that would be tough to sneak on practice squad. March-Lillard is a solid linebacker that deserves the time to develop into his full potential.
Out: 53 Ramik Wilson and 48 Terrance Smith (PS)
22 Marcus Peters, 39 Terrance Mitchell, 20 Steven Nelson, 24 D.J. White and 31 Phillip Gaines
The cornerback position could use an addition at the fifth spot or an additional player. Mitchell’s hamstring issue has hampered him during a portion of camp and will need to be monitored.
Nelson has looked good on the field and the game appears to be slowing down for him. Acker and Bausby are likely battling for the last spot or two depending on the numbers. Hartfield shows some promise worth investing in on the practice squad.
Out: 27 Kenneth Acker, 31 De’Vante Bausby, 26 Jacoby Glenn, 47 Trevon Hartfield (PS) , 6 Ashton Lampkin, 30 J.R. Nelson and 40 Larry Scott
29 Eric Berry, 38 Ron Parker, 49 Daniel Sorensen, 21 Eric Murray and 34 Leon McQuay
The Chiefs safety position likely won’t see much of a shakeup from last season.
Out: 25 Steven Terrell
2 Dustin Colquitt, 5 Cairo Santos and 41 James Winchester
The players above should be locked in unless there is a serious injury before the season begins.
Out: Sam Ficken
Special Teams: 3
Nick Jacobs is a contributing writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @Jacobs71.