Pre-training camp 53-man roster projection for Chiefs

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The Kansas City Chiefs are set to report to training camp. The entire team will arrive next Tuesday, but rookies, quarterbacks and injured players are arriving in St. Joseph beginning today.

Training camp will serve as a proving ground for the majority of the players on the 90-man offseason roster. The newly introduced gradual roster cuts, which will take place throughout the preseason, make it evermore important that these players make an impression early on.

This team is very competitive, with eyes toward another Super Bowl appearance. Ultimately, there are very spots on the 53-man roster up for grabs. Still, those who perform during training camp will set the table for a chance to make the team. They’ll also have a chance to carry that momentum into the regular season.

With all of that in mind, here’s our latest projected 53-man roster for the Chiefs:

Quarterback: 2

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

  1. Patrick Mahomes

  2. Chad Henne

I'd be very surprised if either Anthony Gordon or Shane Buechele impress enough to require three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. For now, the two-quarterback approach seems to be the one best suited for the Chiefs' needs. Henne has one more year on his contract and the winner of the Gordon/Buechele training camp battle can take a season running the scout team before taking over.

Running back: 4

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  1. Clyde Edwards-Helaire

  2. Darrel Williams

  3. Jerick McKinnon

  4. (FB) Michael Burton

I tend to favor the incumbent players over the newcomers. In the case of Jerick McKinnon and Darwin Thompson, the newcomer should be the player who wins out. There has been virtually no talk of Thompson, who impressed during his Week 17 performance against the Los Angeles Chargers. Meanwhile, all the talk out of OTAs and mandatory minicamp was about how fast McKinnon looked. Unless something changes in the next six weeks, McKinnon should make the squad.

Tight end: 3

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  1. Travis Kelce

  2. Noah Gray

  3. Blake Bell

In our way-too-early projection, we went with four tight ends on the roster. This time around, three tight ends seem to be the magic number. Noah Gray has been a standout during OTAs and minicamp, earning snaps as the No. 2 tight end behind Travis Kelce. Expect that to continue once the pads come on during training camp.

Wide Receiver: 6

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  1. Tyreek Hill

  2. Mecole Hardman

  3. Demarcus Robinson

  4. Byron Pringle

  5. Marcus Kemp

  6. Cornell Powell

Our way-too-early projections had the same six receivers, and for now, that's what we're sticking with. There could be a few guys like Antonio Callaway, Daurice Fountain, Dalton Schoen, Gehrig Dieter and Darrius Shepherd who give guys like Marcus Kemp and Cornell Powell a run for their money. Ultimately, it comes down to Dave Toub making a decision on those fifth and sixth receiver spots. Who can play on punt and kick coverage or offer return specialist ability? We already know that Toub likes Kemp for his ability as a gunner. That should give him an advantage heading into training camp.

Offensive line: 10

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  1. LT Orlando Brown Jr.

  2. LG Joe Thuney

  3. C Creed Humphrey

  4. RG Trey Smith

  5. RT Mike Remmers

  6. Swing OT Lucas Niang

  7. Swing OL Kyle Long

  8. Swing OL Austin Blythe

  9. Swing OL Nick Allegretti

  10. RG Laurent-Duvernay-Tardif

I still think the Chiefs go with 10 offensive linemen on the 53-man roster. The starting lineup on this projection looks a bit different given what we know from OTAs and mandatory minicamp. With Kyle Long currently dealing with injury and set to miss training camp, keeping someone like Laurent Duvernay-Tardif around seems like a good idea. I don't feel great about the tackle depth of the team here, but I could see a reunion with Mitchell Schwartz happening down the line if necessary.

Defensive tackle: 5

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  1. Chris Jones

  2. Derrick Nnadi

  3. Jarran Reed

  4. Tershawn Wharton

  5. Khalen Saunders

No changes to this group, and yes, we're still keeping Chris Jones listed as a defensive tackle. The team might be planning more snaps for him at the defensive end spot, but don't expect an outright position switch for the second-most dominant defensive tackle in the league. If this group stays healthy through training camp, I expect them to be the strength of the team.

Defensive End: 5

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  1. Frank Clark

  2. Alex Okafor

  3. Mike Danna

  4. Taco Charlton

  5. Joshua Kaindoh

Okafor is back in the mix for the Chiefs here after his contract voided ahead of the 2021 free agency period. The Okafor re-signing pushes Tim Ward off the roster and onto the practice squad.

Linebacker: 5

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  1. Anthony Hitchens

  2. Willie Gay Jr.

  3. Nick Bolton

  4. Ben Niemann

  5. Dorian O'Daniel

In our way-too-early projection, I went with Darius Harris, thinking that he could play SAM and MIKE linebacker. This time around I'm choosing Dorian O'Daniel for special teams value and his ability to play WILL. It'd be great if someone could beat out Ben Niemann, but don't get your hopes up. This group still hinges on the development of Willie Gay Jr. and Nick Bolton.

Cornerback: 6

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  1. Charvarius Ward

  2. L'Jarius Sneed

  3. Rashad Fenton

  4. Mike Hughes

  5. DeAndre Baker

  6. BoPete Keyes

In our way-too-early projection, I went with just five cornerbacks. This time around I'm adding a sixth cornerback to the mix. The team hadn't yet traded for former Vikings CB Mike Hughes. He's my new addition here, but I'm also keeping BoPete Keyes around. With some depth questions following Bashaud Breeland's departure, they should keep an extra player around to compensate.

Safety: 4

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  1. Tyrann Mathieu

  2. Juan Thornhill

  3. Daniel Sorensen

  4. Devon Key

Armani Watts has been absent for a portion of the offseason program so far. It has opened up an opportunity for undrafted DB Devon Key to earn first- and second-team repetitions on defense. If the team does keep six corners it means they'll have to make a tough decision in the safety group.

Specialists: 3

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  1. K Harrison Butker

  2. P Tommy Townsend

  3. LS James Winchester

This group is unchanged from our last prediction. The team doesn't even have any competition on the roster for any of these players. They won't change unless an injury occurs.

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