Kansas City Chiefs: Grading Every Position Unit at the Start of Camp
The Kansas City Chiefs have quarterbacks and rookies participating in training camp along with a couple of veterans who arrived early. Soon, the Chiefs are expected to have their entire team on board in St. Joseph, Missouri, as training camp will be in full swing.
The Chiefs had a fairly quiet offseason with no major additions to the team. In this slideshow, we will analyze and grade every position group going into the opening of camp.
QBs: Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray (R)
Alex Smith isn’t included when fans and the media discuss the top-tier quarterbacks in the NFL. However, he is one of the most reliable quarterbacks in the NFL when it comes to ball security. He committed only 11 turnovers in the 16 games he played, including the postseason game against the Indianapolis Colts.
While Smith’s backups all had highly noted college careers, they all went undrafted (Chase Daniel and Tyler Bray) or were drafted late (Aaron Murray.)
If Smith goes down to an injury, the Chiefs don’t have a viable option at quarterback.
RBs: Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, Cyrus Gray, De’Anthony Thomas (R), James Baker (R), Charcandrick West (R)
FB: Anthony Sherman
With Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis and De’Anthony Thomas all part of the running back unit, the Chiefs have one of the fastest groups of scatbacks in the league. Their speed is relevant and translates into success in Andy Reid’s style of offense.
While Charles will strictly focus on offense, Davis and Thomas are likely to contribute and handle return duties on special teams.
Anthony Sherman has also proved himself in one year after the Chiefs traded away Javier Arenas. Sherman played a hand in Charles’ big runs, opening holes for him while also coming through in the passing game for Kansas City.
WRs: Dwayne Bowe, Donnie Avery, Junior Hemingway, A.J. Jenkins, Kyle Williams, Weston Dressler, Mark Harrison, Frankie Hammond, Fred Williams, Jerrell Jackson, Darryl Surgent (R), Albert Wilson (R), Deon Anthony (R)
Kansas City’s offense has a good but inconsistent starting receiver in Dwayne Bowe with a thin supporting cast around him.
Since Bowe became the No. 1 wide receiver for the Chiefs, the franchise has gone through myriad No. 2 receivers. The Chiefs don’t have a strong presence in the passing game due to the lack of power at this position, and it was still noticed during last year’s 9-0 start.
The Chiefs recruited Kyle Williams and A.J. Jenkins from San Francisco within the past year and brought in Weston Dressler from the CFL, but there are no signs that those players can help get the job done.
TEs: Anthony Fasano, Travis Kelce, Sean McGrath, Richard Gordon, Demetrius Harris
Sean McGrath did not expect to play much, but he was a serviceable tight end when his number was called due to injuries at the position. Anthony Fasano and Travis Kelce will have another chance to stay healthy and show what they can do during a full season.
Prior to arriving to Kansas City, Fasano pulled in 30 or more catches and five touchdowns in each of the last two years with the Miami Dolphins. He could be Kansas City’s most productive tight end since Tony Gonzalez.
LTs: Eric Fisher, J’Marcus Webb, Ryan McKee
LGs: Jeff Allen, Rishaw Johnson, Ricky Henry
C: Rodney Hudson, Eric Kush, Ben Gottschalk (R)
RGs: Jeffrey Linkenbach, Zach Fulton (R)
RTs: Donald Stephenson, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif (R)
After a subpar rookie season at right tackle, Eric Fisher will look to be more prolific at left tackle. Rodney Hudson is the only returning starter, while Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson are going into camp as projected starters for the first time.
A lot of questions must be answered at this position. The coaching staff will soon get a good understanding of what they have in preseason games. The line plays a big part in Smith and Charles’ success, who proved a lot last year in his first year under Reid.
LDEs: Allen Bailey, Vance Walker, Dominique Hamilton
NTs: Dontari Poe, Jaye Howard, Jermelle Cudjo, Kyle Love, Kona Schwenke (R)
RDEs: Mike DeVito, Mike Catapano
Dontari Poe rose in his second year, earning a Pro Bowl spot and proving to be one of the top defensive linemen in the league. Alongside Kansas City’s stout pass rushing from its outside linebackers, Poe provided additional pressure, making it hard for opposing offenses to move the ball.
Allen Bailey and Mike DeVito showed flashes in 2013, and the Chiefs want to see consistency and improvement from this position after a dominant season.
OLBs: Tamba Hali, Justin Houston, Dee Ford (R), Frank Zombo, Josh Martin, Dezman Moses, Alonzo Highsmith
ILBs: Derrick Johnson, Nico Johnson, Joe Mays, James-Michael Johnson, Ben Johnson (R), Jordan Campbell, DeRon Furr (R)
Justin Houston and Tamba Hali got most of the praise during Kansas City’s impressive defensive season. When they both got hurt against the San Diego Chargers during the team's second loss of the season, the Chiefs learned how valuable they were even more. With the addition of rookie Dee Ford, the pass rush could be scarier than last year for opposing quarterbacks.
Since 2010 Derrick Johnson has turned into one of the best linebackers in the NFL. Nico Johnson comes from an NFL-type of defense under Nick Saban in Alabama and gets his first chance at being a starter for the team after being drafted in 2013.
CBs: Sean Smith, Chris Owens, Phillip Gaines (R), Sanders Commings, Marcus Cooper, Ron Parker, Vernon Kearney, DeMarcus Van Dyke, Kevin Rutland, Brandon Jones, Justin Rogers
SSs: Eric Berry, Daniel Sorensen (R)
FSs: Husain Abdullah, Malcolm Bronson, Jerron McMillian
Eric Berry is the only impact player out of the defensive backs. Outside of Berry, the Chiefs have a couple of familiar players in Sean Smith and Husain Abdullah. After them, training camp will feature a lot of experimenting to see which cornerbacks are worth keeping when it is time to create the 53-man roster.
With Kansas City’s premier pass rush, a lot of the defensive backs are bound to get an interception at some point this season.
P: Dustin Colquitt
K: Ryan Succop, Cairo Santos (R)
LS: Thomas Gafford
KR/PRs (likely candidates): Knile Davis, De’Anthony Thomas, Weston Dressler, Kyle Williams
Expect the trio of Dustin Colquitt, Ryan Succop and Thomas Gafford to work together for the sixth year. However, the Chiefs will need more from Succop, who has been below average in the league in field-goal makes and field-goal percentage.
Although Dexter McCluster and Quintin Demps are gone, expect any player to shine as a return specialist under special teams coordinator Dave Toub.