Biggest remaining needs for Chiefs following 2023 NFL Draft
The 2023 NFL draft is in the books, and the Kansas City Chiefs did a nice job of addressing their top needs. They still, however, could use some quality depth at a variety of positions. There are some notable free agents still available and there are almost always a handful quality players who get cut or become available via trade during the offseason.
Let’s take a look at the biggest remaining needs for the Chiefs’ roster:
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The Chiefs addressed the WR position in the draft by selecting Rashee Rice in the second round. He was clearly a top target for K.C. as it traded up eight spots to grab him. Rice was the only WR selected by the Chiefs, although they did sign two undrafted free agents. Is that enough for the Chiefs to feel comfortable with their WR corps heading into the 2023 season?
For my money, they could still use a reliable veteran. He doesn’t have to be a Pro Bowler, just someone who can pick up the system and be a reliable option. You could argue that the newly signed Richie James fills that role, but he doesn’t have a proven track record beyond a decent 2023 season.
Kadarius Toney currently projects to be the Chiefs’ No. 1 WR, but his injury history is not something that can be disregarded. Marquez Valdes-Scantling is one of the hottest or coldest players in the league, and Skyy Moore is still very much unproven.
K.C. has a couple of lottery tickets in Justyn Ross, John Ross and Ihmir Smith-Marsette, but they could get cut just as easily as they could make the team. When it comes to the WRs, fans are going to have to be patient.
It’s likely the Chiefs are at least comfortable enough with this group to go to training camp, but they’ll at least get opportunities to evaluate the group during OTAs. It could take them until after preseason or even during the regular season to make a move.
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As of now, the Chiefs have five running backs (if you include UDFAs) and no fullbacks on their roster. You can lock in Isiah Pacheco and Jerick McKinnon as their one-two punch at RB. Today is the deadline for K.C. to pick up the fifth-year option for Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
Whether they do or not, general manager Brett Veach said the Chiefs are excited about what Edwards-Helaire can bring to the table in 2023. Playing behind Pacheco and McKinnon with the pressure of being a starter off could be a good thing for him. UDFA Deneric Prince will have a legitimate shot to make the roster with his impressive combo of size and speed.
On paper, RB appears to be set, but if Edwards-Helaire continues to disappoint and Prince doesn’t adjust well to the NFL, the Chiefs will need a third quality back. As for fullback, K.C. has carried one in every season of the Andy Reid era, so it seems likely that they’re in the market for one.
The Chiefs invited UDFA fullbacks Aidan Borguet and Tyler Roberts to rookie minicamp, so perhaps one of them impress enough to make the team. If not, veterans Derek Watt and Cullen Gillaspia are a couple of veteran free agent options.
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The Chiefs have eight defensive tackles rostered, but only one of them (sixth-round pick Keondre Coburn) is under contract beyond the 2023 season. There’s still hope that the Chiefs and All-Pro Chris Jones can agree to a contract extension this offseason, but there’s not much information available about negotiations between the two.
Derrick Nnadi, Tershawn Wharton and Coburn should compete for a spot in the defensive line rotation. Nnadi’s game has dropped off the last two years and Wharton has only been a rotational guy thus far and he’s coming off of an ACL injury. The Chiefs don’t have much quality depth beyond that, except for veteran Danny Shelton, but he was mostly a practice squad player last season.
It’s possible a UDFA could impress enough to make the team, but the Chiefs should definitely be on the lookout for a quality veteran defensive tackle, especially if Coburn is slow to develop.