With two preseason games in the books, the Kansas City Chiefs have one game left this Saturday at Arrowhead against the Cleveland Browns. With roster cuts looming next weekend, Head Coach, Andy Reid, and General Manager Brett Veach will have some choices to make. So, who makes the final cut?
Quarterback (3) Patrick Mahomes, Shane Buechele, Blaine Gabbert – There is zero doubt as to which of these three is QB1, but the order of the back-ups, probably rests with the veteran over the young quarterback. The kid Buechele has been very impressive to date. He understands the offense, and his work with the first team Saturday night told me, he can manage the offense for short bursts.
Running Back (3) Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon, Clyde Edwards Helaire – Though I’m not a fan of CEH, nor do I see the fit in Reid’s offense. The health of Pacheco makes him expendable, but for now, he makes the roster. Early camp darling Deneric Prince has struggled recently, but Perine La’Mical has shown some promise. I doubt both will be on the practice squad.
Wide Receiver (7) Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Justin Watson, Rahsee Rice, Skyy Moore, Richie James, Justin Ross – I know it’s a stretch to carry that many receivers but given what happened in the AFC title game with a rash of injuries at the position, I’d feel better if the Chiefs carried more receivers than they need so I would not be shocked if, Ihmir Smith-Marsette finds a spot. Regardless, these guys are young, but they’ve proven they can make plays in the offense.
Tight End (3) Travis Kelce, Noah Gray, Matt Bushman – This group has all the makings of being a terrific trio for Mahomes. Bushman to me is the wild card in a positive manner. The man can do it all as a tight end. Yes, keeping Blake Bell and his blocking prowess is a good idea, but not at the cost to carry four tight ends. To me, Gray must elevate his game to a level that gives Kelce time off during games.
Offensive Line (10) Donovan Smith, Prince Tega Wanogho, Wanya Morris, Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Nick Allegretti, Trey Smith, Darian Kinnard, Lucas Niang, Jawaan Taylor – Keeping two deep at the offensive line position is risky but the Chiefs have some young depth that honestly is worth keeping on the active roster. If there’s an odd man out, my guess is it will be Niang.
Defensive End (5) George Karlaftis, Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Malik Herring, Mike Danna, BJ Thompson – Now this list will change once the suspension of Charles Omenihu comes back in week seven. Further, I suspect, when the Chiefs sign Chris Jones, that Carlos Dunlap will return to KC which means Herring will be the odd man out. Of the five names here, Danna really doesn’t bring any value to the defense. If Omenihu was available, and Dunlop had already arrived, I doubt Danna would have made the final 53.
Defensive Tackle (5) Chris Jones, Tershawn Wharton, Derrick Nnadi, Keondre Coburn, Danny Shelton – If the Chiefs carry six, Daniel Wise has a shot as well. He’s looked good so far. The key is Jones and when he’ll be available. One big surprise has been the play of Shelton. In a perfect scenario, he could line up next to Jones on the inside and create some serious internal pressure.
Linebacker (5) Willie Gay, Leo Chenal, Jack Cochran, Nick Bolton, Drew Tranquill – The addition of Tranquill makes it possible for the Chiefs to carry five linebackers in week one. To me, this group is the key to KC’s defense. With the pass rush struggling, this group must get pressure on the quarterback.
Cornerback (5) Trent McDuffie, Jaylen Watson, Nic Jones, L’Jarius Sneed, Joshua Williams – I think Jones ends up on injured reserve, but depending on the results from the medical tests, he could make the final 53 and come back as an injury designee. If that does happen, I suspect KC will hope Ekow Boye Doe is available. Still, I love this group overall. They have speed, a nose for the ball, and youth that paid huge dividends a year ago.
Safety (4) Justin Reid, Bryan Cook, Mike Edwards, Chamarri Conner – The good thing about this group is Conner can slide over to the corner slot, and the rest of this class has enough versatility to give Defensive Coordinator, Steve Spagnuolo the ability set up blitz packages.
Special Teams (3) Tommy Townsend, Harrison Butker, James Winchester – This unit is at the top of its game. However, Townsend will be looking for a big extension this season. He’s one of the best punters in the game, and KC’s holder.