Finally, football is coming back, but for real this time. The next time we see the Kansas City Chiefs suit up, they’ll be playing a game that matters. Patrick Mahomes is going to start his second consecutive MVP season, and the Chiefs will win the Super Bowl the next 11 seasons. Not only will this next game actually matter, but the Chiefs will also be taking the field with 53 players. Let’s take a look at the Chiefs 53-man roster and identify their positions of strength and weakness.
Taking a Look at the Kansas City Chiefs 53-Man Roster Ahead of Week One
I’m going to break down each position group individually, and at the end give my take on the offense overall. Before I do so, think of the Chiefs offense last year. They led the league in points, and Mahomes had an NFL record-breaking year on his way to the MVP award. While most teams would take a step back after doing something like that, this team might very well do even better than that this year. Let’s start with the position group that leads this unit.
As shocking as it might be to see the young gun Mahomes over established veteran Matt Moore, we have to trust that Andy Reid knows what he’s doing. All joking aside, this has to be seen as a position of strength. Well, for the number one position, number two (and the fact we only have two quarterbacks on the roster) poses questions. It isn’t surprising the Chiefs are only keeping two quarterbacks. They don’t plan on losing Mahomes, and this is the same plan they went with last season. Assuming Mahomes stays healthy, this is one of the top, if not the top position of strength on this team. Moore brings veteran experience with him as well and can help be a voice for Mahomes in the film room.
Woo-boy, this running back room looks good. Heck, it looked good before they signed veteran running back LeSean McCoy, who rejoins Andy Reid after a stint in Buffalo. While McCoy said in a recent presser that he’s used to being “the guy” on the offense, he isn’t even “the guy” in this room. Technically, Damien Williams is, however with McCoy still having speed and agility, and rookie Darwin Thompson’s speed, some really fun and funky plays can be had with these three. There is a lot of speed in this room, and what is truly mind-boggling is this may not even be the fastest room on the team. The Chiefs have at least two starters in McCoy and Williams, and who knows what Thompson will be. If the preseason is any indication, he should be pretty good too.
The Sausage reprises his role as the Chiefs’ ultimate thumper. While he predominantly helps block, he showed off his ability to pass catch in Week One last season. Kansas City loves BBQ, and it loves The Sausage.
- Eric Fisher
- Cam Erving
Fisher has had this spot since he was selected number one overall in 2013. Erving is a good backup, with experience on this team. Fisher can provide good blocking on the blindside, giving time for Mahomes, and room for the running backs to run.
Wylie leads this position after taking over last season, while the veteran Allen backs him up. Allen, a Chief, before spending time in Houston, is a solid back up to Wylie. Wylie, who took over the position last year and will start this year, is young and needs to show he can protect not only Mahomes but also help the running game. Look to Allen to help mentor Wylie as the season progresses.
- Austin Reiter
- Nick Allegretti
This is a young tandem, with Reiter, similar to Wylie, taking over this position last year, after previous center Mitch Morse moved on to Buffalo. While Morse played the majority of last season, Reiter did spend some time starting while Morse dealt with a concussion. It will be interesting to see how the interior of this offensive line fares. Let’s hope more defenses opt to stay back and play the pass instead of applying pressure. However, when it comes, and it will, Reiter will need to be able to not only pass block but also make sure the rest of the line is in sync.
LDT makes a return to this position after spending most of last season on injured reserve. He is certainly one of the strengths of this line, which helps considering the youth along the interior. His backup, Ryan Hunter, is young and hopefully will be able to develop as the season progresses.
This has to be the strongest part of the offensive line. Schwartz, a Pro Bowl tackle who is one of, if not the best at his position, is the perfect mentor for the young Rankin. Rankin, who was picked up in a trade from the Texans for Carlos Hyde, is a top 80 pick from 2018. He has talent, but also has a lot to work on. Having time to sit behind Schwartz to grow and develop will invariably help Rankin become a larger part of this O-line.
Kelce is the best tight end in the National Football Leagues. Yes, I’m going to say it: he was even before Gronk retired, but I’m not here to write about Kelce’s skill compared to Gronk. Kelce, with Fisher, are the two longest-held vets on this offense. Last season he saw a career-high in yards and touchdowns, and that was with a different dynamic in the wide receiver room (which we’ll discuss in a moment). With all the speed on this roster, defenses are going to struggle to contain Kelce. Even if they can, they won’t be able to cover the other position groups. Behind Kelce are two newcomers in Yelder and Bell. Both are athletic and have potential, let’s just hope they have better hands than their predecessor in Demetrius Harris.
This has to be one of the fastest receiving corps in the history of the NFL. Hill, Watkins, and Hardman are all three speedsters that, at any given play, can break a routine passing play for a touchdown at distance. Gone are the days where the Chiefs couldn’t score a touchdown with a wide receiver (remember that?). Robinson showed speed and agility last season, catching Mahomes’ 50th touchdown pass against the Raiders in Week 17 on a deep ball. Thomas, who is suspended in week one for violating the league’s substance abuse policy, is also fast and can help in special teams. Pringle will most likely see the majority of his snaps on special teams, as he learns how to better execute his position.
This offense will be the best in the league again this year. Assuming the injury bug doesn’t strike in a way it really only strikes the Los Angeles Chargers, this team will have the speed and agility to make even the best defenses toss their hands and slap their knees in frustration. You simply cannot expect 11 grown men to defend against Hill, Watkins, Hardman, Kelce, Williams, McCoy, and Thompson, even if it’s an average quarterback behind center. Mahomes has the ability to strike anyone, anytime, any way possible. I just hope that Arrowhead has enough fireworks prepped each game for all the touchdowns they’ll be scoring. It’d be a shame for them to run out in the third quarter and the Chiefs keep scoring. Such are the concerns in the Legion of Zoom.
This group improved on paper. Will it translate on the field? I sure hope so. The Chiefs said goodbye to veterans Justin Houston, Dee Ford, Allen Bailey, and Eric Berry. While that might scare some people, their additions should make up for the losses. The Chiefs also overhauled the coaching staff and scheme entirely. Defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, who is bringing a 4-3 defensive scheme, also welcomes the additions of linebackers coach Matt House and defensive line coach Brendan Daly. If the players don’t pop out to you, which some of them certainly should, these coaches should comfort you.
Clark leads this unit after a big year in Seattle. He’s a complete rusher who can beat anyone with speed and power. Okafor may have a huge year with all the other weapons along the line. Offenses will have to account for both Clark and Chris Jones, and that attention will take away from a competent player in Okafor. He might just be one of those under the radar signings that makes a huge difference in December and January. Kpassagnon, who has struggled under the tutelage of Bob Sutton, seeks to rebound as a pass rusher and get back to what he was drafted to do. Ogbah can also help and provides depth along the edge.
Jones had a monster year last season. While Houston and Ford are gone, Clark should help add pressure and keep all the attention from being solely on Jones. Moreover, new line coach Brendan Daly, who arrives by way of New England, is known for using the line in creative ways to apply pressure. Behind Jones is 2018 draftee Nnadi, who seeks to improve off his rookie year against the run, as well as the K.C. native Williams. Ivie provides depth at the bottom of this list, and can help in running situations.
Hitchens struggled last year to live up to the salary the Chiefs signed him for. That said, it isn’t all his fault. This year, Spags seeks to make him and his fellow linebackers’ lives easier. Hitchens can be great in run-stopping situations and reducing the plays where his assignments are jumbled and he hesitates after the snap will be priority. Wilson adds speed, and Lee was one of the top coverage linebackers last season. Ragland hopes to regain the form that landed him on the Chiefs roster as well. Niemann and O’Daniel also add speed and can contribute on special teams.
Yikes. That’s what I have to say about the cornerback room. Fuller is good, but if the preseason and training camp is any indication, they don’t plan on playing him outside or on every snap. Breeland can be good, but Ward? Well, let’s be generous and just say we don’t have enough film to make a determination on him. Fenton and Smith are here primarily for special teams, but they could get some playing time early. Let’s just hope that general manager Brett Veach can pull another rabbit out of a hat like he has the past week and pull off a cornerback trade/pickup that can help this roster. Cornerback was one of the leading weak spots last season, and for a team wanting to make a Super Bowl run, this need must be addressed. Claiborne, who is suspended the first 4 games, is an average corner, and it’d be nice for him to be more of a depth guy than a starter that we rely on to not get beat and scored on in ugly fashion. Not saying that will happen, it’s just easy to look at last season and this room and fear that result.
Mathieu, a pickup from this off-season, looks to help improve a Chiefs secondary who sorely missed Eric Berry last season. The “Honey Badger” can play anywhere, and will be a great swiss army knife to cut up gameplans. Lucas has potential and can learn a lot behind Mathieu, and so can Watts. Watts, however, will probably see the majority of snaps on special teams.
It will be interesting to see the snap count for this position in week one. Sorenson is a good blitzing and situational safety but struggles in an every-down role. Thornhill, who has the speed to keep up with even the likes of Tyreek Hill, might take more playing time. I could easily see Thornhill and “Honey Badger” becoming a two-headed monster in the secondary, holding quarterbacks from passing for just a second too long, as Clark and Jones come crashing down.
This defense should be much improved from last season. Concerns on corner aside, look for this unit to be at least a top 20 unit this season. Consider how explosive the offense will be, and a top 20 defense makes this team really pretty scary. A fresh coaching staff, new athletic playmakers, and speed should make this unit tougher to score on opposed to the past two years. That said, Brett Veach, if you’re reading this, first of all, sup. Second of all, please do something at cornerback. Pat Mahomes is great, but there’s another Pat out there who, while he’s suspended the first eight weeks, can take this team to the Super Bowl. He also is on a bad team, and I’m sure they wouldn’t mind some draft picks and a wide receiver to hand him over and reunite with our other new friend, “Honey Badger.”
I won’t break down the special teams unit since I’ve talked about them a little in the individual position groups breakdown, but I have to mention these two because #ForTheBrand. Butker has already established himself as one of the best Chiefs kickers, and his recent extension means we get to see him kick balls and score points for even longer. Colquitt, now the oldest player on this roster, is still full of youth punting deep into enemy territory and showing the league he’s one of the best punters in the game.
A Super Bowl Caliber Team?
This team is stacked. The offense is downright spooky, and with the signing of McCoy, it’s clear that Veach is wanting to murder some defenses. Speaking of defense, the Chiefs might not be so bad this year. A new coaching staff, scheme, and plenty of new faces should improve this defense. Even if the offense stays the same as they were last year (which statistically is one big if, but on paper not as much), and the defense improves to a top 20 unit, it’s hard to say whether this team will lose a game. This is the Chiefs’ Super Bowl window, and with big contracts looming, including a rumored $200 million extension for Mahomes, the Chiefs need to take advantage of the veteran talent they have now. Andy Reid and friends are hungry to win the Super Bowl. This is their chance. Either way, it’ll be one heck of a year, and it’s a great time to be a Chiefs fan.