Assessing Every Kansas City Chiefs UDFA's Chances of Making Final Roster
The Kansas City Chiefs will be keeping a keen eye on the 11 players they acquired via the undrafted free-agent talent pool. In particular, head coach Andy Reid will be eager to see if a pair of wide receivers can add anything to a thin rotation.
Reid will also be intrigued by the early performance of a recently acquired defensive lineman who operated in a 3-4 system, similar to the one Kansas City runs, in college.
The theme of acquiring trench warriors also involved a late arrival to an offensive line that could use some depth after enduring a series of veteran departures this offseason.
Here is an assessment of each undrafted free agent's chances of making the final roster in Kansas City.
Albert Wilson, WR, Georgia State
Versatility gives Albert Wilson his best chance of earning a roster spot. The speedy dynamo can find work as either an outlet from the slot or as a return man. Fortunately, the Chiefs have a need at both positions since Dexter McCluster bolted to the Tennessee Titans in free agency. And the return game took another hit when safety Quintin Demps also left town.
At 5'9" and 202 pounds, Wilson is built similarly to McCluster, though he's not nearly as explosive. But as a player who fills an obvious need, don't be surprised to see the ex-Georgia State ace make a positive first impression.
That said, Wilson's task of making the roster will be difficult thanks to the presence of ex-CFL star Weston Dressler and fourth-round draft pick De'Anthony Thomas. Both are similar in size as pint-sized pace merchants who can flourish from the slot and as returners. Don't expect to see Wilson make the grade.
Daniel Sorensen, S, Brigham Young University
Daniel Sorensen's chances are boosted by the Chiefs' obvious problems at safety. The position was the bane of coordinator Bob Sutton's defense a year ago and barely looks any better in 2014.
Sutton will be relying on players such as Husain Abdullah and Jerron McMillian to try and competently partner with Eric Berry. Such a lack of quality naturally creates an opening for another player.
Sorensen's bid to be that player is helped by his decent size at 6'1" and 205 pounds, coupled with his willingness in run support. His range isn't the best, although he did spend some time covering the deep zones at BYU.
It's easy to believe Sutton will want somebody more athletic for his single-high coverage concepts, but given the paucity of options at the position, a worker like Sorensen should make the roster as a member of the special teams.
Kona Schwenke, DT, Notre Dame
The former Notre Dame nose tackle actually has a decent chance of making the roster as a reserve at the most important position on Kansas City's 3-4 front. The team needs depth behind starting 0-technique Dontari Poe, particularly after Jerrell Powe joined the Houston Texans in free agency.
Schwenke might be considered undersized to operate over a center at 6'3" and 303 pounds. But he has experience anchoring a 3-4 front. Paylor notes that he made seven starts deputizing for Louis Nix III in 2013.
What could hinder his chances is the return of Kyle Love. The 6'1", 315-pounder brings more natural mass to the position. That could tip the scales in Love's favor in what is likely to be a battle between the two for backup duty.
David Van Dyke, CB, Tennessee State
David Van Dyke finds himself entering a crowded position group in Kansas City. The Chiefs are well-stocked at cornerback after some shrewd offseason moves.
They added Chris Owens and DeMarcus Van Dyke in free agency, as well as Phillip Gaines via the draft. Those three join veteran Sean Smith and Marcus Cooper, giving defensive back coach Emmitt Thomas ample resources.
The Chiefs many be making noises about trading Brandon Flowers, per Bleacher Report columnist Dan Pompei. But since the team couldn't find a taker during draft week, any deal looks unlikely at this stage.
That means there will be just too many bodies for Van Dyke to get past. He will likely be an early roster casualty.
Darryl Surgent, WR, Louisiana-Lafayette
At 6'0" and 195 pounds, Darryl Surgent has a good shot at making a team that's not exactly brimming with towering targets for quarterback Alex Smith.
Teicher puts the Chiefs' average figure at around 5'11". Surgent can help redress the balance somewhat as a capable inside receiver as well as a dangerous return man. His superior size could give him the edge over Wilson and ensure a final roster spot.
Charcandrick West, RB, Abilene Christian
Charcandrick West will hope to make the third-down running back role his own. That will involve knocking the brittle speedster Cyrus Gray off the roster.
West's speed will help his cause. He reportedly ran a stunning 4.27-second 40-yard dash at the Abilene Christian pro day, per CollegeFootballMetrics.com. The Kansas City offense used a lot of spread concepts in 2013, and Reid and coordinator Doug Pederson could certainly make use of West's speed.
As a quick and nifty runner with a low center of gravity, West has the chance to make an impression. Gray has yet to start a game in two seasons and averaged just 2.7 yards per carry in 2013. West should be able to stay a spot ahead of him, assuming Thomas isn't used full time at running back.
James Baker, FB, Idaho
James Baker faces perhaps the tallest order when it comes to making the roster. At 6'2" and 228 pounds, he is more of a bruising inside runner. The problem is that this offense is no longer geared toward smashmouth concepts. "Speed" is the word to use when describing the Kansas City backfield.
The closest the Chiefs have to a power back is Knile Davis. It is unlikely Baker usurps last season's third-round pick.
A possible conversion to fullback beckons, as that is how Baker is listed on the team's official site. But even that is a long shot given the presence of the capable Anthony Sherman.
Ben Gottschalk, OL, SMU
If the Chiefs are smart, they won't be finished adding to their numbers along the offensive front. The team lost Branden Albert, Jon Asamoah and Geoff Schwartz during free agency. That's why Ben Gottschalk can make the roster. The former SMU swingpblocker can provide depth behind center Rodney Hudson.
At 6'5" and 293 pounds, Gottschalk could also be shifted to guard or even kicked outside to tackle. That level of flexibility should be invaluable to a team with depth issues behind its primary front five.
Count on Gottschalk making the roster.
Ben Johnson, LB, Tennessee-Martin
As a fast-flowing, all-out effort tackling machine, Ben Johnson could easily make the roster as a special teams standout. His active style and strong tackling form are great attributes for football's third phase.
The former Tennessee-Martin ace could also add pressure on projected starting inside 'backer Joe Mays. Although, he will face competition from James-Michael Johnson and Nico Johnson.
The inside linebacker rotation is not strong after primary playmaker Derrick Johnson. So if this undrafted rookie is particularly impressive, he will earn a roster spot.
Cairo Santos, K, Tulane
The superbly named Cairo Santos has a chance to supplant incumbent kicker Ryan Succop. The latter did himself no favors by failing to convert a game-winning kick against the San Diego Chargers in last season's finale.
Succop missed six kicks in 2013, although one was blocked, per numbers from NFL.com. That gives Santos a glimmer of hope. But the ex-Tualne kicker will have to prove his leg strength. He did boom 47 touchbacks last season, but he missed seven of his 23 field goals, according to CFBStats.com.
Assume Succop keeps his job for now.
DeRon Furr, S, Fort Valley State
Adding hybrid safety DeRon Furr was a late roster move by the Chiefs, per Kevin Price of the Ledger-Enquirer. Having operated at both safety and de facto linebacker, Furr has a chance to make the roster as depth at one of two key areas.
The former Division II standout needs to find his position at the pro level. His 6'3", 232-pound frame could see a move to linebacker if assistant Gary Gibbs can refine his technique.
That's a transition NFL.com draft pundit Nolan Nawrocki endorses in his description of Furr: "Hard-hitting, playmaking Division II rover safety who projects to the weak-side linebacker position in the pros."
If he is a linebacker, Furr kicks inside in Kansas City's 3-4. Given the need for help at linebacker and safety, it's likely he makes the final roster as a utility defender and special teamer.