Early Projections for Kansas City Chiefs' 53-Man Roster
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The collaborative efforts of head coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey have culminated in a revamped Kansas City squad.
As expected, the Chiefs roster includes its fair share of shoo-ins, ranging from long-time local favorites to the latest acclaimed additions. And, according to former general manager Charley Casserly, those aforementioned shoo-ins legitimize the Chiefs as AFC wild-card contenders.
But spindly depth has served as the proverbial thorn in Kansas City's side throughout recent seasons.
Reid and Dorsey seemingly took notice and added grade-A meat to Kansas City's roster. But not every newcomer will survive the final cut.
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Despite the smattering of local rumblings, backup Chase Daniel poses no viable threat to starter Alex Smith.
However, if Smith is sidelined (for any reason), Daniel's dual-threat capabilities and accrued experience sitting behind Drew Brees offer a stable insurance policy.
Although Smith is stapled in as the starter, a quarterback controversy could still brew at training camp. Undrafted but heralded rookie Tyler Bray will clash with Ricky Stanzi for the final quarterback slot.
If Peyton Manning totes a laser, rocket arm, Bray is wielding a weapon of mass destruction. At Tennessee, the polarizing passer dropped back and routinely slung Mach 3 missiles with ease—scouts practically need bibs while watching his highlight reel.
But Bray's lackadaisical approach and questionable decision-making caused 32 general managers to shun him through seven rounds. By declaring for the NFL draft, the underclassman rolled all of his eggs into one basket like dice.
The gamble didn't pay out the short-term results he was searching for. However, Bray's undrafted skid may reinvigorate the quarterback's desire. If so, not hearing his name announced at Radio City Music Hall could prove to be a blessing in disguise.
Running Back (4)
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Even with multiple Pro Bowl nominations to his name, Jamaal Charles might be the most underrated running back in the league. The 26-year-old doesn't merely represent an elite rusher; he represents an elite rusher who's on pace to be the most efficient running back of all time. Even more impressively, Charles established his historic pace while overriding an annually anemic passing game.
His projected backup, rookie Knile Davis, finished second amongst running backs in the 40-yard dash (4.37 seconds) and bench press (31 reps) at the NFL Scouting Combine.
Davis' game-breaking talent was displayed in 2010, but it was suppressed by injuries over the past two years. However, when he's healthy, his game oozes with similarities to that of Darren McFadden's.
Cyrus Gray, who is often victimized by injuries himself, presents a well-rounded third-down option. If he stays healthy, Gray should be able to narrowly edge out Shaun Draughn on the depth chart.
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Many Chiefs fans collectively scratched their heads as the squad shipped cornerback Javier Arenas to the Arizona Cardinals for fullback Anthony Sherman. But the trade makes sense: Reid's roster offered little to no opportunities for Arenas to contribute—at least, not significantly.
By enlisting Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson to complement Brandon Flowers, Kansas City might have assembled the league's most talented trio of cornerbacks. Arenas doesn't boast the height nor the straight-line speed to serve as a reliable outside defender. And he wouldn't have surpassed Robinson—a proven, versatile corner—as the team's nickelback.
Furthermore, Devon Wylie's and Dexter McCluster's returning skills are on par with Arenas', rendering him expendable in that facet of the game.
Anthony Sherman is a special-teams standout and dynamic fullback—he can churn out yardage on the ground or through the air. No. 35 bolsters Kansas City's kickoff and punt coverage, while adding an extra dimension to Andy Reid's backfield.
Braden Wilson, Kansas City's second sixth-round pick, brings the prototypical lead-blocker mentality. But in the past, Reid's offenses have utilized fullbacks sparingly.
Wilson will likely be relegated to the practice squad.
Wide Receiver (6)
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For the first time in his NFL career, Dwayne Bowe will be afforded the opportunity to play with a respected quarterback. And while passes will be distributed more evenly throughout the receiving corps, Bowe's overall impact could increase.
Donnie Avery will enter training camp as a legitimate candidate to start as the No. 2 receiver. If Jon Baldwin doesn't refine his route-running, he could be demoted to a backup role.
Slot receivers Dexter McCluster and Devon Wylie should flourish in Andy Reid's offense. Both are dangerously elusive in the open field and can convert seemingly minimal gains to chain-moving first downs.
Terrance Copper will survive the final cut due to his special-teams prowess.
Tight End (3)
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With the recent selection of rookie Travis Kelce, the Chiefs' tight-end arsenal is packed with firepower.
As a blocker and receiver, Kelce flaunts more pro potential than his counterparts. However, learning the ropes of Andy Reid's offense and adapting to the professional game will require time.
Anthony Fasano excels in blocking and lines up as a respectable target in the passing game.
Compared to Fasano, Tony Moeaki is a superior receiving option in the passing game. But his subpar blocking skills might limit his playing time in 2013.
Offensive Tackle (4)
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Assuming that Branden Albert will remain with the team, Andy Reid relayed that the veteran will start at left tackle, while No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher will anchor the opposite end (via Pro Football Talk).
If Albert walks after the 2013 season and Donald Stephenson progresses into a serviceable right tackle, Stephenson could compete for the starting job on the right side in 2014 (with Fisher sliding to left tackle). For now, he supplies crucial depth to the offensive line.
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Jon Asamoah is quickly becoming a revered offensive guard around the league. Whether rushing or passing, he can be trusted to accomplish his assignment.
Offseason addition Geoff Schwartz provides flexibility, having played both guard and tackle throughout his professional career. He should be penciled in as the starting left guard for Week 1.
Second-year lineman Jeff Allen continually struggled during his rookie campaign. Considering how often he was bulldozed by competition in 2012, Allen desperately needs to hit the weight room this offseason and develop his upper-body strength.
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Before a broken leg derailed his 2012 season, Hudson looked to be effectively growing into his role at center. But he returned from his injury and opened the Chiefs' three-day minicamp as the starter (via the Kansas City Star).
Like Geoff Schwartz, Eric Kush adds versatility up front. Throughout his collegiate career, the rookie garnered experience at all three positions on the offensive line.
Defensive Tackle (3)
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Last season's first-round selection, Dontari Poe, exhibited glimpses of his potential's ceiling in 2012. However, those glimpses were few and far between. There is no doubt that he embodies the necessary tangibles to become a one-man army of disruption. But the coaches will be tasked with polishing his intangibles.
Veteran Anthony Toribio is sufficient at his job, but he won't swing the momentum up front in either direction.
Defensive End (4)
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Kansas City addressed the departure of Glenn Dorsey by signing Mike DeVito. Like most 3-4 defensive ends, DeVito rarely provides quarterback pressure. However, he effectively plugs lanes and stuffs the run (more so than Dorsey).
The upcoming season presents a make-or-break scenario for Tyson Jackson. Last year, he slowly began to prosper in sub packages. But if Jackson hopes to stumble into a lucrative contract next offseason, "slowly" will need to be erased from his lexicon.
Throughout the latter half of the season, rookie Mike Catapano could challenge Allen Bailey for playing time.
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Tamba Hali and Justin Houston could punctuate 2013 as the most dominating outside linebacker tandem in the NFL. Defensive coordinator Bob Sutton's tendency to disguise blitzes will only help the prolific pass-rushers.
Their Pro Bowl compadre, Derrick Johnson, normally shines when running downhill and rocketing through the line. Fans can expect to see Johnson blitzing more frequently in 2013.
Rookie Nico Johnson and veteran Akeem Jordan will compete for the starting job at strong-side linebacker. Johnson's makeup is better suited for the role, outweighing the 230-pound Jordan by 18 pounds. The rookie's ability to digest Sutton's defense will likely dictate the outcome of the training camp battle.
Frank Zombo and Zac Diles bolster the linebacker rotation—one that has severely lacked depth in recent seasons.
Edgar Jones should also cement a spot on the 53-man roster due to his special-teams expertise.
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When Andy Reid officially jumped to the aerial onslaught known as the AFC West, he immediately snagged headlines by acquiring free agents Dunta Robinson and Sean Smith.
Alongside Brandon Flowers, the group creates a three-headed monster to combat the division's trigger-happy quarterbacks.
Jalil Brown was constantly torched by receivers in 2012. If De'Quan Menzie, who missed the entirety of his 2012 rookie season due to injury, shows promise during training camp, Brown could find himself balancing atop the roster bubble.
Rebounding from 2011's ACL tear, Eric Berry struggled in coverage during the first half of the season. But the tide began to shift throughout the latter stretch of last year, which included his sole interception and a pair of 11-tackle performances.
Nagged by injuries, free safety Kendrick Lewis endured a forgettable 2012 season. He will attempt to fend off stiff competition from Husain Abdullah and rookie Sanders Commings.
Commings was predominantly used at cornerback but moonlighted at free safety in college. While his measurables dwarf those of Lewis and Abdullah, his opportunities will depend on how rapidly he acclimates to the scenario.
Special Teams (3)
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K Ryan Succop
P Dustin Colquitt
LS Thomas Gafford
There won't be any surprises in this department.
Ryan Succop remains a dependable kicker, increasing his field-goal percentage in each of the past three seasons.
Punter Dustin Colquitt evolved into a precise sniper in 2012 (which eventually earned him a Pro Bowl nod). Last year, Colquitt's 46.8-yard average also doubled as his career high.
The Chiefs re-signed their reliable long snapper, Thomas Gafford, on March 19.
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