We’re back with another roster projection, but this time we finally have some level of football news to feel more comfortable making projections from. With the Chiefs having two players opting out and new practice squad rules in place, I can now comfortably make more decisions about different guys on the roster, and feel like I’m hitting more with some spots at the bottom of the roster. This probably won’t be my last roster projection I do, but with no training camp to watch and preseason tape, there won’t be any tape for me to make any definitive decisions on. So, with that being said, let’s look at some of the changes I have this time.
(Note: Like last time, while we’ve heard news on Rankin and Thornhill, until I see news that they won’t be ready to play week 1, I’m not going to count them out yet. Both should be back week 1 based off projections now, and shouldn’t have to be on the actual PUP list week 1. Also, no Bashaud Breeland news, so until we hear something there, he’s going to be on the week 1 roster).
Quarterback (2): Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne (Last projection: 3)
People are going to be surprised by this. No Matt Moore? You don’t think he’ll make the roster?! Well, actually, I think he will. But instead of taking a roster spot, I have him making the practice squad. Yes, Moore is actually eligible for the practice squad with the new rules.
The new rules allow for 6 players to head to the practice squad, with no accrued seasons limiting them. They do have to pass through waivers obviously, but this opens up the possibility of Moore making the practice squad. The Chiefs could cut him and designate him as one of the four practice squad players that get protected every week. And yes, they have to take the risk of Moore making it through waivers, but I think that’s a pretty safe risk for the Chiefs. Moore had four months to sign with teams prior to resigning and the interest in him was pretty dead. Sure, teams are back in the buildings, but I don’t think they’ll be some huge chase to get Moore, considering he would need to learn a brand-new system while taking a roster spot for another team. If the Chiefs want to save a roster spot for another lineman (on either side of the ball) I think putting Moore on the practice squad would be the easiest way to get another spot open to use for another lineman while not taking a special teamers from Toub.
Running Back (5): Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Deandre Washington, Darwin Thompson, Daryl Williams, Anthony Sherman (Last Projection: 5)
With the news of Damien Williams opting out of the season, the Chiefs shouldn’t have any competition at the running back spot in camp. All 5 of these guys are basically locks for me. I doubt Elijah McGuire makes enough of an impact to get rid of Darwin Thompson, and Washington is needed as the Damien Williams’ replacement. Daryl Williams is safe as the pass protector and power back. Andy Reid wants to keep 4 running backs and Sherman, so this is a pretty simple bet for the Chiefs.
Wide Receiver (5): Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Demarcus Robinson, Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle (Last Projection: Same 5)
Same 5 as last time, I don’t think anything changes. Maybe Kansas City will look to trade for a former bust at wide receiver or sign someone when cutdowns happen, but nobody on the current roster will crack one of the spots at wide receiver for me. Expect these 5 as locks.
Tight End (3): Travis Kelce, Deon Yelder, Nick Keizer (Last Projection: 3)
One new change here, which is cutting Ricky Seals-Jones. I’m not sure RSJ is a safe bet for Kansas City. I think RSJ has some talent as a potential seam stretcher, but I’m not sure what else he brings. His blocking isn’t very good, and the Chiefs have nobody currently who does that. The only one who has experience blocking in some capacity is Nick Keizer, and I think that gives him a small advantage here. This staff loves Deon Yelder, so to me, he’s a near lock. And to me, Yelder brings most of the receiving traits RSJ gives you, and Keizer gives you the blocking element when needed. Not to mention, RSJ doesn’t really play special teams, which hurts him. So combine the bad blocking and no special teams factor, and I’m not sure where you get the roster spot out of him.
Offensive Line (10): Eric Fisher, Mitchell Schwartz, Greg Senat, Mike Remmers, Andrew Wylie, Martinas Rankin, Nick Allegretti, Austin Reiter, Kelechi Osemele, Jackson Barton (Last Projection: 9)
With the roster spot of Matt Moore being off the team, I think Kansas City looks to bring in another offensive lineman. With COVID and the attrition Kansas City has felt on the offensive line, I think Reid and Veach are going to want every man available to have ready for game day. Especially if Lucas Niang won’t be playing much swing tackle in 2020, the Chiefs will want Jackson Barton available to go, who did crack the roster last season. They’ll want another body at tackle in there. I think with Remmers likely playing inside, and Niang maybe getting a redshirt year, Barton is the guy to crack that 10th offensive line spot.
With LDT out, Osemele moves into left guard, and the right guard battle is between Remmers, Wylie, and potentially Rankin if healthy. Darrel Williams is somebody I want to put on this roster, but I don’t know which spot he takes. I would like to say Reiter gets cut for Allegretti, but that’s not happening. So, unless Williams beats either Wylie at guard, or Allegretti at center, they’ll probably try to keep Williams as one of their four designated guys.
Now, if the Chiefs don’t feel comfortable having Williams pass through waivers, my guess is that Wylie might be gone. The Chiefs did bring him back for experience, but I’m not sure where he fits here. I think he’s the 3rd most likely candidate to start at right guard, and the Chiefs have at least tried working Lucas Niang somewhat inside. If they don’t like the idea of letting Williams pass through every team, Wylie may be out. Now, it would take Allegretti/Williams showing more at guard for that to happen, but with Wylie only having 1 year left on the deal, his roster spot isn’t guaranteed in the slightest
(Note: Lucas Niang opted out on Tuesday morning, this was written on Monday. I inserted Greg Senat as next guy up at tackle, but Darrel Williams may make the roster now as the 10th guy. I have no idea. Niang was going to make roster though).
Defensive Line (10): Frank Clark, Taco Charlton, Alex Okafor, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Mike Danna, Derrick Nnadi, Chris Jones, Khalen Saunders, Mike Pennel, Breeland Speaks (Last Projection: 10)
Defensive Line is by far the most interesting projection for me coming int0 the season. The Chiefs have legitimately 12 defensive lineman who should be on the active roster, so the way they navigate how they’re going to keep all those guys is going to be fascinating. And truthfully, I have no idea what the Chiefs are going to do.
The four guys that I have questions about are Demone Harris, Danna, Speaks, and Tim Ward. The Chiefs want to keep all four guys if possible. Mike Danna would the ideal option to go on one of those practice squad spots, but there’s no way he doesn’t make it through waivers. The Chiefs felt the need to take him in the 5th round, because of how scared they were of a team snatching him in the UDFA market. This staff has too much love for Danna to let him walk. He’s a near-lock for me, even though he’s probably not ready to play a huge role for this tam yet.
The last spot comes down to Harris, Speaks, and Ward. And I honestly can’t decide who’s going to crack that last spot. Speaks has came in better shape so far this offseason, in the hopes of cracking that last edge spot. But I’m not sure that’s going to work for him. Speaks is going to be competing for that 5th/6th defensive end spot, and I’m not sure that’s something Speaks is going to easily win. One of the best parts about Speaks is his ability to play inside. His heavy hands, power, and explosion are so much better playing inside. I genuinely mean this; Speaks could be a productive player playing inside.
But with Speaks slimming down, I hope he retained his ability to play inside. I hope he didn’t allow himself to get too light, because if he’s not the presence inside anymore, what’s the point in keeping Speaks? Now, do I think he totally lost that ability? Probably not. But that’s going to be something this Chiefs staff weighs. For now, I’m going to assume he kept himself at a good enough weight to play inside, which is why this team will want him. If one defensive tackle gets hurt, we have zero depth inside. Speaks would hopefully be that next guy up.
But the tricky part for managing Ward and Harris is whether Kansas City will want those guys to reach waivers. The NFL has love for Tim Ward, and his general bodytype fits a lot of teams around the league. Kansas City snatched Harris off from Baltimore last year, and he played a huge role in helping the defense in the Super Bowl run. He’s not somebody who could stay through waivers most likely. The Chiefs may take the calculated risk with one of them, but considering the attrition they felt at defensive end last year (every defensive end but Tanoh missed multiple games), they are going to want to keep as many as possible. At some point, they’re going to have to make a conceded effort to keep one, which may be the end of Breeland Speaks. Even if Speaks may be the slightly better player, I’ll be interested to see if Daly and Spags are willing to give up on Ward and Harris yet, which are two guys they both love. They have no attachment to Speaks. I think Speaks cracks the roster, but I’m still not overly confident in that choice.
Linebacker (6): Anthony Hitchens, Willie Gay Jr, Damien Wilson, Ben Niemann, Darius Harris, Dorian O’Daniel (Last Projection: Same 6)
No change at all. Like wide receiver, maybe Kansas City signs/trades for a former bust as somebody to develop for next season, but until that happens, the linebacker rotation doesn’t change for me at all.
Cornerback (5): Bashaud Breeland, Charvarius Ward, L’Jarius Sneed, Antonio Hamilton, Reshad Fenton (Last Projection: 5)
Again, no idea on Bashaud Breeland, so until I get news there, won’t speculate on what Kansas City does. One change this time, which is Bopete Keyes not being on the active roster. The Chiefs put him on the NFI (Non-football injury list), and until we get more news on whatever happened and his recovery schedule, I’m going to speculate he may be put on IR and stashed for the year. The Chiefs have done this before, with Tim Ward and Byron Pringle. They like taking high quality UDFAs and late round picks, putting them on IR for a season, in order to keep them off of waivers. With Keyes being a coveted pick for the NFL, I’m going to believe Kansas City puts him on IR, to keep him off of other teams. So, Antoino Hamilton rises to that spot, for his speed and special teams value.
Safety (4): Tyrann Mathieu, Daniel Sorensen, Juan Thornhill, Tedric Thompson (Last Projection: 4)
Same 3 for me to start, and with signing of Tedric Thompson as 2nd deep safety, he easily cracks the roster for me. I don’t expect five to make the roster with all the bodies at cornerback, but the Chiefs will stash some guys (Lavert Hill, Rodney Clemons) on practice squad.
Specialists (3): Harrison Butker, Tommy Townsend, James Winchester (Last Projection: Same 3)