Kansas City Chiefs: Early Projections for the Final 53-Man Roster

Bill RobbinsCorrespondent IMay 4, 2012

Kansas City Chiefs: Early Projections for the Final 53-Man Roster

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    With their 2012 NFL draft now complete, it's time to make my early predictions for the Kansas City Chiefs roster for the upcoming season.

    Since the Chiefs' current roster is returning many of their starters and other role players from last season, there shouldn't be too many surprises in this list.

    Here are my projections for K.C.'s 53-man roster for the start of the 2012 season.

Quarterback

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    Matt Cassel

    Brady Quinn

    Ricky Stanzi

     

    Like many positions on KC's current roster, there are no surprises here.

    I expect the Chiefs to go with three quarterbacks to begin the '12 regular season.

    There is always a chance that they could add a veteran QB via free agency, but there isn't much out there right now.

    Cassel will be the starter again this year, with Quinn and Stanzi fighting it out to be his backup in camp.

Running Back

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    Jamaal Charles

    Peyton Hillis

    Dexter McCluster

    Cyrus Gray

     

    Charles is one of the best RBs in the league, as he is just two years removed from a season when he rushed for over 1,500 yards and averaged 6.4 YPC.

    Peyton Hillis was signed as a free agent earlier this offseason and will give KC a bruiser-type back to plug in behind Charles.

    McCluster will be fighting for playing time this season, considering that talented rookie Cyrus Gray is now in the mix at running back for Kansas City.

Wide Receiver

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    Dwayne Bowe

    Steve Breaston

    Jonathan Baldwin

    Devon Wylie

    Junior Hemingway

    Terrance Copper

     

    The Chiefs will once again have one of the best wide receiving corps in the league with Pro Bowler Dwayne Bowe, veteran Steve Breaston and second-year man Jonathan Baldwin.

    After last month's NFL draft, their group of wideouts should be even stronger this season after adding the speedy Devon Wylie and former Michigan star Junior Hemingway.

    I see third-year wideout Jeremy Horne being the odd man out this year, considering that Terrance Copper has more experience and is more valuable on special teams.

    This should be a very exciting bunch to watch in 2012.

Tight End

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    Tony Moeaki

    Kevin Boss

    Jake O'Connell

    Steve Maneri

     

    Similar to two of his teammates, Tony Moeaki is coming off of a season-ending ACL injury, and could be eased back into action this season.

    This is why the Chiefs went out and signed free-agent TE Kevin Boss in March, giving them another quality option at that spot on the field.

    O'Connell and former offensive tackle Steve Maneri should round out the group of tight ends for Kansas City this season.

Offensive Tackle

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    Branden Albert

    Eric Winston

    Donald Stephenson

     

    Albert will return as the anchor for the Chiefs' left side of their offensive line in 2012.

    This time, he will be joined by former Texan Eric Winston, who was easily the biggest free-agent signing by Kansas City this offseason.

    The third and final tackle that I have making this team is rookie Donald Stephenson, who could very well end up being a starter for K.C. down the line.

    David Mims is also a possibility to make the team out of camp, but I think that is more likely to be placed on the practice squad for the second straight season.

Offensive Guard/Center

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    Ryan Lilja

    Jon Asamoah

    Rodney Hudson

    Jeff Allen

     

    Ryan Lilja, Jon Asamoah and Rodney Hudson should all start at each of the interior positions along Kansas City's offensive to begin the season.

    While Lilja and Asamoah were both starters last year, Hudson will be stepping in for long-time veteran Casey Wiegmann at center.

    This is a talented unit and they got even better by adding new guard Jeff Allen in the second round of this year's NFL draft.

    It will be key for all three of these guys to stay healthy this year, as the Chiefs will likely not have a lot of depth at either their center or guard positions again this season.

Defensive Tackle

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    Dontari Poe

    Jerrell Powe

    Amon Gordon

    Anthony Toribio

     

    Heading into this offseason, this was easily the weakest position on the entire roster.

    Although the Chiefs added Dontari Poe through the draft, it's not likely that he will make a big impact on this defense in 2012.

    Jerrell Powe, Gordon and Toribio will all battle for playing time behind Poe, unless K.C. decided to acquire a veteran nose tackle between now and the beginning of the regular season.

    Although I have four DTs making the 53-man roster, it's also very possible that Kansas City could go with just three players at that spot this year, considering the fact that there are other positions that could use additional depth on the roster.

Defensive End

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    Glenn Dorsey

    Tyson Jackson

    Allen Bailey

    Jerome Long

     

    Former college teammates and first-round picks Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson will remain the starters at each of the defensive end spots for the Chiefs this season.

    Even though they haven't quite lived up their first-round status, they both showed some signs of life last season for this defense.

    Backup DE Allen Bailey will be heading into sophomore season with the team, as he should see action on passing downs and could be a factor in this offense as well.

    Jerome Long should also make the team as the fourth DE on this roster to begin the year.

Outside Linebacker

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    Tamba Hali

    Justin Houston

    Andy Studebaker

     

    The Chiefs have one of the best one-two punches at OLB in Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.

    However, they still don't have much behind either of them heading into next season.

    If either of these two players go down, K.C. could be in real trouble at this position in 2012.

    Although Studebaker should make the team again for what he can provide on special teams, I can't see former fifth-round pick Cameron Sheffield making the team after doing nothing in his first two seasons with the team.

Inside Linebacker

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    Derrick Johnson

    Jovan Belcher

    Brandon Siler

    Cory Greenwood

    Dexter Heyman

     

    Derrick Johnson is one of the best inside linebackers in the league right now.

    The battle for the other starting ILB spot should be a good one, as fourth-year man Jovan Belcher and ex-Charger Brandon Siler will square off in camp for that role.

    Cory Greenwood was just signed to a four-year extension earlier this year, and should see some time on special teams and at linebacker when K.C.'s defense goes to their sub-packages.

    Dexter Heyman is the surprise name on this list, as I believe that he has enough talent to make this team out of camp this year.

Safety

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    Eric Berry

    Kendrick Lewis

    Kyle McCarthy

    Tysyn Hartman

     

    After missing nearly an entire season due to a torn ACL, K.C. will be getting back one of the best young safeties in the league in Eric Berry for the '12 campaign.

    Fellow third-year safety Kendrick Lewis should be starting alongside Berry with free agent Kyle McCarthy making the squad as a backup.

    Look for rookie cornerback DeQuan Menzie to get some playing time at safety as well.

    Also, I expect UDFA Tysyn Hartman out of Kansas State to surprise and make the 53-man roster for the Chiefs this year.

Cornerback

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    Brandon Flowers

    Stanford Routt

    Javier Arenas

    Travis Daniels

    Jalil Brown

    DeQuan Menzie

     

    Veterans Brandon Flowers and Stanford Routt will lead a deep group of CBs heading into the '12 season.

    Flowers has started 59 games in his four seasons with the organization and Routt is coming over from Oakland after playing the first seven years of his career in the bay area.

    Arenas, Brown and Menzie have all been drafted for depth purposes in the last three years, while Daniels should once again provide a veteran presence in K.C.'s secondary.

    I expect big things from this group in 2012.

Special Teams

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    Ryan Succop

    Dustin Colquitt

    Thomas Gafford

     

    For the fourth straight year, the Chiefs will likely be going with the trio of Succop, Colquitt and Gafford as their kicker, punter and long snapper, respectively.

    Succop has been a very reliable kicker for K.C. over the past three seasons, as he connected on 80 percent of his field-goal attempts last year.

    Colquitt will be entering his eight season with the Chiefs, as he is widely respected as one of the best punters in the AFC.

    The 29-year-old Gafford should have no problem making the team again, as he appears to be the lone long snapper on K.C.'s roster right now.