Way-too-early 53-man roster projection for Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs have filled out the 90-man roster and they’re now getting a first-hand look at their team during OTAs.

There’s a lot to be determined between now and when the Chiefs trim their roster down to 53 players later this summer. The next several months will tell the tale of who makes the squad as players get prepared for the upcoming season during the course of the offseason training program.

With that in mind, here are our way-too-early projections for the 53-man roster in Kansas City:

Quarterback: 3

  1. Patrick Mahomes

  2. Blaine Gabbert

  3. Shane Buechele

The NFL’s new third QB rule won’t lend the Chiefs much flexibility with their quarterback situation. They’re unlikely to risk Buechele on waivers and I’m not sure that it makes much financial sense to release and re-sign Gabbert on the practice squad.

Running back: 4

  1. Isiah Pacheco

  2. Jerick McKinnon

  3. Clyde Edwards-Helaire

  4. Deneric Prince

If McKinnon, Pacheco and Edwards-Helaire each didn’t have injury questions and concerns, I’d say the Chiefs would roll with three running backs. Prince will prove to be a valuable backup through a 17-game season.

Tight end: 4

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
  1. Travis Kelce

  2. Noah Gray

  3. Jody Fortson

  4. Blake Bell

The tight end situation will be an interesting one to monitor this offseason. Gray is going to play more of an H-Back role this season. Fortson was quietly one of the best run-blocking tight ends in the NFL last season. Watch the final spot, occupied by veteran tight end Blake Bell. He missed the majority of the 2022 NFL season with a hip injury. Matt Bushman and Kendall Blanton could both make a push for that spot.

Wide Receiver: 6

Andrew Nelles-USA TODAY Sports
Andrew Nelles-USA TODAY Sports
  1. Kadarius Toney

  2. Marquez Valdes-Scantling

  3. Skyy Moore

  4. Rashee Rice

  5. Justin Watson

  6. Richie James

As much as I’d like to see a player like Justyn Ross make the 53-man roster, I just don’t know how you make the numbers work if you’re Kansas City. Maybe you carry one less tight end, but unless he’s going to make an outsized impact on special teams, it’s hard to fit him. James is going to be due for a big role for Dave Toub with Moore, Toney and Pacheco looking to increase their snaps on offense. Look for Nikko Remigio or Jerrion Ealy (RB/WR) to potentially push for that role as well.

Offensive line: 10

  1. Donovan Smith

  2. Joe Thuney

  3. Creed Humphrey

  4. Trey Smith

  5. Jawaan Taylor

  6. Nick Allegretti

  7. Darian Kinnard

  8. Lucas Niang

  9. Prince Tega Wanogho

  10. Wanya Morris

I think there are enough questions at the offensive tackle position that the Chiefs go heavy and keep 10 guys this year and five guys who they like at tackle. How the starting tackle situation shakes out remains to be seen. Monitor Darian Kinnard, who was on the bubble last season. He has transitioned to right guard and his progress there could be key to his ability to make the team.

Defensive tackle: 4

AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

This group looks to be set, but Wharton could start off on the PUP list. If that happens don’t be shocked if Phil Hoskins or Matt Dickerson pushes for a spot on the 53-man roster.

Defensive end: 5

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Thompson should push Kaindoh off the 53-man roster. Positional flexibility and special teams will be the key for someone like Malik Herring to make the 53 over Thompson. Truman Jones has an uphill battle with the numbers.

Linebacker: 4

AP Photo/Ed Zurga
AP Photo/Ed Zurga
  1. Nick Bolton

  2. Drue Tranquill

  3. Willie Gay Jr.

  4. Leo Chenal

Last season, the Chiefs kept six linebackers in part due to Willie Gay Jr.’s suspension. This year, I feel like they’ll keep just four players because of the flexibility that Tranquill gives Steve Spagnuolo.

Cornerback: 6

  1. L’Jarius Sneed

  2. Trent McDuffie

  3. Joshua Williams

  4. Jaylen Watson

  5. Nazeeh Johnson

  6. Nic Jones

The Chiefs have incredible depth at this position and the top four spots are basically set. Johnson has value on special teams and should keep his spot so long as he takes a step forward on defense. Jones has already done a good job of separating himself from the competition.

Safety: 4

  1. Justin Reid

  2. Bryan Cook

  3. Mike Edwards

  4. Chamarri Conner

I suspect that Conner will beat out Deon Bush, assuming he can contribute an equal amount on special teams.

Special teams: 3

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
  1. K Harrison Butker

  2. P Tommy Townsend

  3. LS James Winchester

The Chiefs remain confident in their specialist group. There is no competition on the roster for each of these three players and unless an injury occurs, don’t expect any additions here.

Story originally appeared on Chiefs Wire