Nick Jacobs' 2022 Chiefs 53-man roster prediction: Version 1.0

Chiefs Football
Posted at 4:31 PM, Aug 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-07 19:14:21-04

The Kansas City Chiefs come into the season with an arguably well-balanced roster — it will have an increase in youth but also an infusion of collective team speed.

Chiefs general manager Brett Veach arguably did a good job at stacking the running back, wide receiver, cornerback, safety and linebacker positions. And the team appears to be better across the board in those spots.

My areas of concern include the one tech defensive end, an additional rotational edge rusher and a reliable backup quarterback or developmental quarterback at the third spot.

Based on five days worth of practice, two of which were in full pads, here is my initial projection of the 53-man roster.

Quarterback (2)
Patrick Mahomes and Chad Henne

The Chiefs will be able to put their third quarterback on the practice squad or potentially find another developmental quarterback in the weeks ahead. Henne has been more inconsistent than in years past with his accuracy, which is cause for concern. No other quarterback on the roster provides a steady presence behind Mahomes. Henne can throw the check down in front of him but has had issues on some flats passes and forcing it deep into multiple defenders.

Practice Squad potential: Shane Buechele
Cut: Dustin Crum

Running Backs/Fullback (5)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Jerick McKinnon, Isiah Pacheco, Ronald Jones and Michael Burton

The Kansas City running back room has a variety of running styles and athletic abilities. No running back is the same, and they will all have their own roles to fill.

The question for me comes down to Ronald Jones versus Derrick Gore. Will either player create a trade return on a draft pick or a player who enhances another position of need?

The Chiefs' surplus is a good thing. Jones can be a power back in the Chiefs scheme for between the tackles and short yardage runs, but it limits the roster spot for special teams work and in the passing game.

Trade potential: Derrick Gore
Cut: Tayon Fleet-Davis

Wide Receiver (6)
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Skyy Moore, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Mecole Hardman, Justin Watson and Daurice Fountain

The Chiefs overhauled this position, similar to the offensive line the prior year. They now have a unique combination of size and speed on the roster. Watson could surprise some people in the weeks ahead. Fountain and Coleman are battling for the final position, in my mind.

Whoever had the strongest preseason in the offense and on special teams should give themselves the final spot at receiver. Jerrion Ealy has a ton of promise that needs time to develop, but he could contribute to the team later on down the stretch in the event of injuries.

Josh Gordon has had a lot of dropped passes that should be routine in camp. There doesn't appear to be much left in the tank. Coleman has outperformed him in my camp observations.

Powell looks slower this year in and out of his breaks as well as some drops during practice that needed to be caught.

On the bubble: Corey Coleman
Practice Squad potential: Jerrion Ealy
Cut: Omar Bayless, Josh Gordon, Gary Jennings, Aaron Parker and Cornell Powell

Tight End (4)
Travis Kelce, Jody Fortson, Blake Bell and Noah Gray

Fortson looks like he is regaining his form, Bell is the best blocking tight end and Gray will have a key role on special teams that should keep him on the active roster. There isn't much of a competition here.

The only question is if Fortson can begin the transition into Kelce's role over the next two years or if they will need to look outside of the organization for his heir apparent.

Cut: Matt Bushman and Jordan Franks

Offensive Line (9)
Orlando Brown, Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith, Andrew Wylie, Nick Allegretti, Darian Kinnard, Austin Reiter and Geron Christian

The Chiefs may need to go short on the roster with additional numbers at wide receiver and running back.

The preseason will determine if any of the young players have potential. Roderick Johnson had a lot of opportunities to prove himself but looked overwhelmed at left tackle. Prince Tega Wanogho had a lot of time invested in him, but there isn't enough to justify his inability to stay healthy.

Lucas Niang is a guy I won't count on personally for a while with the injury he sustained in Cincinnati.

Cut: Michael Caliendo, Vitaliy Gurman, Roderick Johnson, Evin Ksiezarczyk, David Steinmetz, Prince Tega Wanogho
PUP: Lucas Niang

Defensive Line (9)
Chris Jones, George Karlaftis, Frank Clark, Carlos Dunlap, Tershawn Wharton, Derrick Nnadi, Khalen Saunders, Mike Danna and Joshua Kaindoh

The reality of the Chiefs right now is they don't have a quality pass rushing one tech or a quality rotational speed rushing end to pair with Frank Clark.

Wharton is at his best when rotating in for Jones. But Nnadi and Saunders just haven't brought much flash against the Chiefs' offensive line.

Kaindoh hasn't shown much impact but will likely see time on special teams. The preseason games will showcase if there is anyone investing in the practice squad.

Cut: Shilique Calhoun, Austin Edwards, Malik Herring, Azur Kamara, Kehinde Oginni Hassan and Taylor Stallworth

Linebackers (5)
Nick Bolton, Willie Gay, Elijah Lee, Leo Chenal and Jermaine Carter

Lee has earned himself some snaps with the first-team defense. Chenal could fill in for Bolton and Gay but also be a physical blitzer and strong run support in short-yardage situations. Carter will likely make the roster on his special teams ability.

Practice squad potential: Mike Rose
Cut: Jack Cochrane and Darius Harris

Cornerbacks (5)
Trent McDuffie, L'Jarius Sneed, Rashad Fenton, Joshua Williams and Lonnie Johnson

My assumption is that Fenton will come up PUP before the preseason ends. If not, that likely opens up a roster spot for Dicaprio Bootle or Deandre Baker. Jaylen Watson right now appears too overwhelmed in the scheme and will need a heavy investment on the practice squad. The athletic ability is there, though.

Practice Squad potential: Dicaprio Bootle and Jaylen Watson
Cut: Deandre Baker, Brandin Dandridge and Chris Lammons

Safety (5)
Juan Thornhill, Justin Reid, Bryan Cook, Deon Bush and Nazeeh Johnson

The Chiefs are set in their first three safeties. Bush provides the Chiefs with quality safety depth and a strong special teams performer to replace the loss of Armani Watts. Nazeeh Johnson gives them a high upside special teams performer that could give the team flexibility at safety and corner.

Cut: Zayne Anderson, Nasir Green and Devon Key

Specialist (3)
Harrison Butker, Tommy Townsend and James Winchester

The Chiefs are set at their specialist roles.

Roster breakdown

  • Offense: 26
  • Defense: 24
  • Specialist: 3

Age, experience breakdown

  • 41 of 53 under the age of 28
  • 23 of 53 with four years or less of experience in the league
  • 8 of 53 players 30 years or older

The Chiefs kick off their first preseason game on KSHB 41 against the Chicago Bears at 12 p.m. on Aug. 13.

Teams must reduce their roster to 85 players by Aug. 16. The team must then reduce their roster to 80 on Aug. 23 before final cut downs take place Aug. 30.

All roster decision deadlines are 3:00 p.m. CT.