Kansas City Chiefs

Kansas City Chiefs: Full Position Breakdown and Depth Chart Analysis at RB

Brett GeringCorrespondent IJune 13, 2014

Kansas City Chiefs: Full Position Breakdown and Depth Chart Analysis at RB

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    USA TODAY Sports|Image Edited by Brett Gering

    When it comes to running backs, "too much of a good thing" applies to the Kansas City Chiefs depth chart.

    Physically speaking, one can argue that their backfield hosts a batch of talent that is unrivaled within the NFL

    Jamaal Charles used Sport Science to unveil the next stage of human evolution. Knile Davis has enough thunder and lightning lodged in his DNA to send Thor and Zeus into early retirement.

    Even newcomers like De'Anthony Thomas—who will likely replace Dexter McCluster as the primary slot option (and thus won't be featured in the subsequent slides)—can clasp a handoff and shift the tide of momentum in half a heartbeat. 

    So, for a handful of halfbacks, offseason opportunities have come knocking. The door, however, is adjoined to an octagon, as Kansas City's quintet will engage in the most cutthroat "king of the hill" competition in recent memory. 

No. 5: Charcandrick West

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    Approaching training camp, if there's one obscure addition to keep tabs on, it's Charcandrick West. 

    He's an undrafted free agent from Abilene Christian who, albeit against inferior talent, runs like a bite-sized Marshawn Lynch eyeing a Skittles-showering rainbow. 

    Obviously, as long as pads remain unstrapped, it's difficult to gauge West's true potential. That being said, two things immediately jump out on film: eye-opening balance and a merciless, Earl Campbell-esque mentality. 

    As he told Desmond Bailey of ChiefsSpin.com, "I basically see the football as a kid and the end zone as its home."

    Now, will he barrel through NFL linebackers like he just plucked a Super Mario star? Hardly. At least, not nearly to the extent shown in the above video. And being that highlights are biased by nature, it's impossible to accurately assess his skills. 

    Until training camp arrives, he isn't a likely candidate to garner much buzz. His speed is distinctive, but it won't hold eyes hostage. And while his freakish 41" vertical—which is, to offer perspective, 10.5 inches higher than that of Jamaal Charles (30.5")—stands out, it won't be showcased anytime soon. 

    But once pads begin thwacking, West and his "never say die" mindset will demoralize tacklers on a daily basis. If he improves his patience (especially when setting up blocks in the open field) and his blitz pickup passes the test, his uncommon attributes could demand a spot on the active roster. 

    However, in all probability, the talent leap will (initially) handicap his odds. But if he shows glimpses of the 204-pound wrecking ball in the above video, tag him as a shoo-in for the practice squad. 

No. 4: Joe McKnight

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    Joe McKnight's tangible tool set allows him to fill a variety of roles. However, for him, survival is ultimately linked to special teams. 

    Within the past decade, the 26-year-old's stock has dipped like Verruckt. Exiting high school, he was touted as the USC successor to Reggie Bush. This offseason, he was holding a "Will return kicks for money" sign at the unemployment line. 

    Fortunately for McKnight, the Chiefs have an opening at the position. Knile Davis embodies every coveted quality—straight-line speed, power, vision—for the role, but ball-security issues have planted seeds of doubt into the minds of coaches. 

    McKnight isn't the genetic marvel that Davis is, but he's far from a slouch, blazing a 4.4 40 time at the 2010 combine. That being said, fumbling has also haunted his reputation, and he didn't line up for a single regular-season snap last year. 

    Still, in 2012, his 27.5-yard kick-return average ranked ninth among players with double-digit attempts, per Pro Football Focus (subscription required). Considering Kansas City is home to arguably the best special teams coordinator in the NFL, Dave Toub, that number is bound to climb.

    #Chiefs Notes from today. Knile Davis & Joe McKnight provide serious speed to the return game. They are decisive. Make a cut & accelerate.

    — Nick Jacobs (@Jacobs71) June 5, 2014

    Offensively, he isn't as polished a rusher as Cyrus Gray—though, he's capable of capitalizing on the occasional handoff—but McKnight's skill set deems him a better backfield receiving threat. 

No. 3: Cyrus Gray

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    USA TODAY Sports

    A jack of all trades tends to be a master of none. While that sounds (and is) cliche, it's the most accurate description of Cyrus Gray's skill set. 

    Normally, a halfback who touts 4.4 (40-yard dash) speed isn't considered the "slow guy" among a trio of rushers, but throughout 2013, that was the case in Kansas City. However, Gray's aforementioned speed still ranks well above average, and he's capable of shedding or juking would-be tacklers in the open field, showcasing keen vision and rapid acceleration along the way. 

    Like Jamaal Charles—to a considerably lesser extent, obviously—the third-stringer brings a multifaceted arsenal to the table, complementing his primary role by serving as both a reliable receiver and backfield blocker. 

    Unlike years past, though, he isn't physically superior to his competition (for the No. 3 slot). In 2014 his survival may hinge on roster needs more so than his on-field performance. 

    Regardless, he's an NFL-caliber rusher who flaunts a vast repertoire of skills, rendering him an ideal third-down option. Last year that train of thought seemingly coincided with Andy Reid's, as 48 of Gray's 82 total snaps were rooted in passing plays.  

No. 2: Knile Davis

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    The raft in Worlds of Fun's Fury of the Nile has become a metaphor for Knile Davis booming into padded obstacles while surging through a lane that's dampened with the tears of defensive coordinators.

    Watching him, it's apparent his DNA strands bathed in a gene pool until it evaporated.

    Davis flashes a rare combination of bulldozing power and Mach-like speed. And by "rare combination," we're not talking first class—rather, one of a kind. 

    Proof? (Prepare to hit your ego's "reset" button.)

    College Bests: Adrian Peterson vs. Knile Davis
     PetersonDavis
    40 Time4.37 seconds4.33 seconds
    Bench Press345 lbs415 lbs
    Squat530 lbs570 lbs

    Sources: Scout.com, ArkansasSports360.com

    Physically speaking, Peterson is the Hulk, while Davis is the Hulk on Popeye's diet. 

    Now, in terms of on-field production, it goes without saying that the two are leagues apart. In his rookie season, the former MVP averaged 5.6 yards per carry and ultimately led the NFL with 95.8 rushing yards per game, which is a far cry from Davis' 3.4 yards per attempt and 15.8 rushing yards per contest.

    Then again, sitting behind the game's current all-time leader in yards per handoff (minimum of 1,000 carries) doesn't exactly stuff one's plate with opportunities. And even when they presented themselves, the second-year pro's attempts normally resided in garbage time, with Kansas City draining the clock and defenses stacking the box in anticipation. 

    That being the case, Davis' rookie stat line is a hair misleading and not indicative of his first-year effectiveness.

    When spelling Charles—in games that were still competitive—No. 34 showed flashes of the former Heisman hopeful who, as a sophomore (prior to injury-related setbacks) headlined a season that featured 1,322 rushing yards, 6.5 yards per carry and 14 total touchdowns. 

    However, throughout 2013, he left his mark by traveling down an alternate avenue. Out of kick returners who cradled double-digit attempts, Davis' 32.1 yards per return ranked second in the NFL. 

    Kansas City's backup has two hurdles to overcome—injuries and fumblesand to different degrees, both raised their heads last year. But as it pertains to his offseason outlook, per The Kansas City Star's Terez Paylor, any (potential) issues stemming from the former concern can, for the time being, be laid to rest:

    Knile Davis, who suffered a broken fibula against the Colts, has been running free and easy. Trademark burst still there.

    — Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) May 28, 2014

Starter: Jamaal Charles

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    Jamaal Charles is the most well-rounded running back in the league. 

    He palms pigskin like it's Velcroed. He lights up plazas during the week and blitzers on weekends. On any given down, Kansas City's open-field magician can char defenders and turn fields into 100-yard wildfires. 

    He'll probably survive roster cuts. 

    Despite shouldering an unparalleled offensive load, he managed to etch an eye-catching five yards per carry in 2013, which doubled as a career low yet still ranked No. 6 in the league. 

    Charles was Pro Football Focus' No. 2 overall halfback, as the perennial Pro Bowler logged 20 rushes of 15-plus yards and tallied 84 more receiving yards (693 total) than any other tailback in the NFL. He also headlined non-quarterbacks with 19 total touchdowns—three more than his closest competition (Jimmy Graham). 

    Furthermore, he's not afraid to get his hands dirty, allowing just two sacks and one quarterback hit throughout 110 pass-blocking snaps a season ago. 

    Simply put, outside of quarterbacks, Charles is the sport's most valuable offensive asset. And while everyone is entitled to a different opinion, football is a numbers game, and statistics don't lie. 

    Jamaal Charles had a league high 35.3 percent of his teams yards from scrimmage this season

    — ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 4, 2014

     

    Combine results provided by NFL Draft Scout. Statistics provided by Pro-Football-Reference.com and Pro Football Focus (subscription required). 

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