Image edited by Brett Gering
With organized team activities (OTAs) on the back burner, mandatory minicamps in the rear-view and training camp just over the horizon, the Kansas City Chiefs' unofficial depth chart is slowly starting to take shape.
OTAs offered a sneak peak into the inner workings of Andy Reid's distinctly diverse mindset.
Realistically, the coaching staff is conducting auditions for five starting positions: No. 2 wide receiver, left guard, strong-side linebacker, No. 2 cornerback and free safety.
Virtually all of the household names left minicamp with their head above water. However, a select few have plunged down the depth chart.
|Pos.||No.||Starter||No.||Second String||No.||Third String|
|QB||11||Alex Smith||10||Chase Daniel||9||Tyler Bray|
In a recent interview on Sports Radio 810 WHB, general manager John Dorsey was asked for a brief scouting report on Alex Smith. With no hesitation, Dorsey quickly chimed in, saying, "Better than advertised."
He went on to praise Smith's spot-on accuracy and mental capacity, relaying that Smith assimilates information and dissects defenses with ease. Dorsey also lauded Smith's leadership: a quality that has been on a seven-year hiatus and gradually regressed into a distant memory in Kansas City.
Previous to the regime change, the Chiefs lacked a sense of direction. The general manager all but converted Arrowhead into the NSA's regional headquarters. The head coach, while a grade-A human being, continually answered questions like Agent J just wiped his memory bank and the franchise's most notable quarterback regularly looked like his spirit animal was a harp seal.
There's no question that Smith is a different breed of quarterback than his Kansas City predecessors.
|RB||25||Jamaal Charles||34||Knile Davis||32||Cyrus Gray||20||Shaun Draughn|
Obviously, Jamaal Charles' game resides in a separate stratosphere when compared to his peers'.
If Knile Davis even vaguely resembles the game-breaking tailback that he once was, he should lock up the slot behind Charles.
The most intriguing positional battle will be headlined by Cyrus Gray and Shaun Draughn. Gray's rookie season was derailed by nagging injuries. However, at full strength, he totes a more polished skill set than his backfield cohort.
While the talent gap is minimal, Gray's pass-blocking and open-field evasiveness should grant him a seat behind Davis.
|LWR||82||Dwayne Bowe||22||Dexter McCluster||19||Devon Wylie|
|RWR||89||Jon Baldwin||17||Donnie Avery||84||Jamar Newsome|
The No. 2 receiver spot is up for grabs, and the two candidates with eyes on the prize couldn't differ more from a receiving standpoint.
Jon Baldwin is a physically imposing possession receiver with a knack for the occasional jaw-dropping reception, but rusty route-running and average speed (as well as woeful quarterback play) have suppressed his potential.
Donnie Avery, on the other hand, consistently creates separation and becomes a defensive nightmare in space. However, his hands are as reliable as Baldwin's aforementioned route-running.
When Sports Radio 810 WHB host Kevin Kietzmen asked about Baldwin's progress, John Dorsey gave a rave review, saying, "The last three days of practice, Jon Baldwin has had excellent—not good, excellent—practices."
The former scout claimed that the towering target had been creating separation on the outside and capitalizing on his oppressive frame.
|TE||80||Anthony Fasano||87||Travis Kelce||81||Tony Moeaki|
Third-stringers normally aren't former standouts, but when Tony Moeaki returns to the field, the fourth-year tight end could easily find himself in that position.
He presents a legitimate threat as a receiver. Recurring injuries and fragile in-line blocking have killed the buzz he garnered as a rookie, though.
Rookie Travis Kelce is a relentless blocker and a dangerous receiver, but his inexperience should ensure Anthony Fasano's job security.
|LT||76||Branden Albert||60||Steven Baker|
|LG||74||Geoff Schwartz||71||Jeff Allen|
|C||61||Rodney Hudson||52||Eric Kush|
|RT||72||Eric Fisher||79||Donald Stephenson|
Last season's beaten, battered and bruised offensive line shouldn't serve as a reference for the 2013 unit.
Branden Albert's back issues limited him to 11 starts. Despite that, the bookend's pedestrian run support was overshadowed by impenetrable pass-blocking. In 722 snaps last year, only one edge-rusher recorded a sack on Albert's watch.
Geoff Schwartz should prove to be a significant upgrade over Jeff Allen—who needs to improve his upper-body strength and refine his technique—at left guard.
A dominant Rodney Hudson has successfully rebounded from 2012's broken leg. While he only played 185 snaps, Hudson held opponents to one quarterback hurry and zero sacks.
Eric Winston's subpar pass protection has been supplanted by No. 1 overall pick Eric Fisher.
Although Donald Stephenson isn't prepared to anchor an edge yet, the former third-rounder will see his share of playing time while rotating at tackle and/or guard.
Playing all three positions in college, Eric Kush adds a degree of versatility up front. But if his fumbling issues continue to tab him as a liability, John Dorsey could recruit additional competition.
Statistics provided by Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
|NT||92||Dontari Poe||95||Jerrell Powe||98||Anthony Toribio|
|RDE||70||Mike DeVito||97||Allen Bailey|
If any stock can be put in OTA and minicamp reports, Tyson Jackson and Dontari Poe are due for successful 2013 campaigns.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) May 28, 2013
— Stephen Brown (@chiefconcerns58) June 8, 2013
In Romeo Crennel's defense, the three down linemen served as little more than fodder. Coordinator Bob Sutton's system loosens their leashes and instills an aggressive mentality, which plays to the strengths of Jackson, Poe and Jerrell Powe.
|LOLB||50||Justin Houston||99||Edgar Jones||53||Mike Catapano|
|LILB||57||Nico Johnson||55||Akeem Jordan|
|RILB||56||Derrick Johnson||54||Zac Diles|
|ROLB||91||Tamba Hali||51||Frank Zombo|
Kansas City's linebacking corps is littered with drive-killers.
The edges are sealed by two ill-intentioned sack artists, and the weak side of the interior is home to a mobile missile of run support.
Who starts alongside them on opening day is anybody's guess, though. Obviously, Akeem Jordan owns the edge in NFL experience when compared to rookie Nico Johnson. Conversely, Johnson made a name for himself in the heart of a 3-4 defense—a scheme that was foreign to Jordan before the first batch of 2013 OTAs.
Thus far, the rookie has generated far more buzz than his veteran counterpart.
— Mitch Holthus (@mitchholthus) June 4, 2013
In 2010, both Zac Diles and Frank Zombo started a combined 18 games and posted respectable stat lines, especially Zombo.
However, injuries have pestered the two since 2011. If the pair manage to elude health issues, the Chiefs' linebacking corps will have added grade-A insurance on the cheap.
|LCB||24||Brandon Flowers||27||Sean Smith|
|SS||29||Eric Berry||35||Quintin Demps|
|FS||23||Kendrick Lewis||39||Husain Abdullah||26||Sanders Commings|
|RCB||34||Dunta Robinson||30||Jalil Brown|
When Andy Reid packed his bags for Kansas City, he knew his immediate success would be tied to Peyton Manning. Sensibly, he revamped the Chiefs secondary.
It's only a matter of time before Sean Smith supersedes Dunta Robinson as the No. 2 corner. Meanwhile, in an unconventional twist—the underlying theme of Kansas City's offseason—Brandon Flowers has regularly moved inside to shadow slot receivers within nickel and dime packages. Given Robinson's average agility and Smith's 6'3" frame, the tweak makes sense.
Free safety serves as the most competitive position on the roster. Athletically speaking, Sanders Commings is superior to Kendrick Lewis and Husain Abdullah. However, he's not only transitioning to life in the NFL, he's also converting to free safety after playing corner for the majority of his collegiate career.
If Lewis reverts back to his pre-2012 form, he should be able to keep Abdullah at arms' length. But if Commings proves to be a quick learner, Lewis may find himself demoted by midseason.
|KR||34||Knile Davis||22||Dexter McCluster|
|PR||22||Dexter McCluster||19||Devon Wylie|
The job security of Dustin Colquitt, Ryan Succop and Thomas Gafford is at ADT status.
However, returning duties are far from etched in stone.
Knile Davis meets all of the prerequisites to become a prolific kick returner: He's faster than Jamaal Charles—well, at least in his mind—and stronger than Paul Bunyan's ox. But if his well-documented fumbling issues rear their head in the NFL, the job will be Dexter McCluster's to lose.
Devon Wylie has accrued the most experience as a punt returner, and he immediately jumps out on film. Although Wylie led the FBS in punt-return yardage his senior year, special teams coach Dave Toub seems to be eyeing McCluster for that job as well.
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