Nick Jacobs’ 2023 Chiefs 53-man roster prediction: v3.0

Posted: 8:16 PM, Aug 27, 2023
Updated: 2023-08-27 21:17:43-04
Browns Chiefs Football

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The NFL preseason has officially passed. Now, difficult decisions must be made.

Chiefs general manager Brett Veach and his scouting department have to potentially waive or release 37 players before 3 p.m. Tuesday.

The team is $194,569 under the league salary cap, per NFLPA records as of Sunday, Aug. 27. This figure is under the top 51 rule, which doesn’t account for players on injured reserve, practice squad additions and also doesn’t count the 52 and 53 players on the roster.

Veach will likely need to create some cap space room before the season officially starts.

The Chiefs were a Chris Oladokun screen pass interception away from being 3-0 this preseason. Those results are a tribute to the depth the Chiefs' front office was able to add to most positions on the roster.

Arguably, the most pressing issue appears to be depth at the three-tech defensive tackle position. The team lacks a top-end starter, with the absence of Chris Jones, and reliable depth, with Tershawn Wharton returning from an ACL injury last season.

The team will let go of some quality depth that should find opportunities on other NFL rosters or practice squads around the league. The Washington Commanders, Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts, Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles are all potential landing spots worth watching this week.

Below are the snap count breakdowns for the preseason.

Quarterbacks (3)

On the roster: Patrick Mahomes, Blaine Gabbert and Shane Buechele

Practice Squad potential: Chris Oladokun

Gabbert has a more commanding presence in the pocket. The Chiefs were able to see how he performed with third-stringers in the last two preseason games, and he helped his teammates create quality tape. Gabbert should be the backup based on his training camp and preseason performances.
Buechele is worth exploring a trade for. He is a player who finds his comfort when he is allowed to create outside the pocket and take off running. Buechele has a habit of staring down the route he wants to throw to, which causes some picks and also allows his receivers to get laid out in tight coverage.

Oladokun has really good athletic ability. He is a weapon with his legs but just needs more time to learn how to read a defense and let the offense slow down for him.

Running Backs (3)

On the roster: Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon and Clyde Edwards-Helaire

Practice Squad potential: La’Mical Perine, Deneric Prince and Jerrion Ealy

I anticipate the Chiefs keeping two players on the practice squad at the running back position.

Edwards-Helaire didn’t showcase enough in the preseason to justify a trade. The Chiefs could gain less than $1 million back in cap space if needed. His ability in pass protection and in the passing game is worth keeping on the roster if a trade can’t form.

Perine had a strong showing for his final two games. He reminded me a little of Spencer Ware on his touchdown catch. He just lacks top-end speed to keep on the roster. His game relies on his toughness and ability to break tackles.

Prince is still learning the finer points of pass protection. He is a one-cut-and-go running back who is still adjusting to the speed of the game. Ealy has great speed, but his size will always be the knock on him.

Wide Receiver (7)

On the roster: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore, Richie James, Justyn Ross, Rashee Rice and Justin Watson
Injured Reserve candidate: Nikko Remigio
Practice Squad possibility: Ihmir Smith-Marsette
Out: Cornell Powell, Ty Scott, Ty Fryfogle and Juwan Green

Ross has done everything he needed to during training camp and the preseason. He stacked days together and stayed healthy. Ross also showed an ability on special teams.

I know some will wonder why Ihmir Smith-Marsette isn’t on the list. He had two strong showings and put a lot of quality tape out there for the league to see. I anticipate a team picking him up.

Justin Watson is able to play multiple roles on the offense. He is versatile enough to fill in for multiple injuries — that will go further than other receivers who need specific roles in the offense.

There is no denying that Smith-Marsette took advantage of the snaps Nikko Remigio likely would have been given before his shoulder injury.

Tight Ends (4)

On the roster: Travis Kelce, Noah Gray, Blake Bell and Matt Bushman
Practice Squad possibility: Kendall Blanton and Izaiah Gathings

I anticipate the Chiefs keeping four on the active roster throughout the season to take over the spot vacated at the full-back position. Bell might be one of the players used for a veteran release to allow a teammate to be placed on short-term injured reserve.

Bushman had the most snaps in the position. He is a solid blocker and a reliable pass catcher — who could potentially end up on the practice squad — but his size and ability might intrigue another team, especially one in Washington or Jacksonville.

Offensive Line (9)

On the roster: Donovan Smith, Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith, Jawaan Taylor, Wanya Morris, Nick Allegretti, Prince Tega Wanogho and Mike Caliendo
Practice Squad possibility: Austin Reiter, Lucas Niang, Darian Kinnard and Jerome Carvin
Out: Jason Goodrich, Sebastian Gutierrez and Anderson Hardy

Allegretti’s shoulder injury will likely have an impact on the status of Reiter, Niang and Kinnard. Tega Wanogho has been arguably the best tackle to immediately fill in behind Smith or Taylor. Morris is still learning the speed of pass rushes and working on his overall strength to push defenders.

Caliendo has high upside athletic ability. He is a great pulling guard. Caliendo is strong on combo blocks and getting to the second level. Kinnard still seems to struggle with knocking defenders off the ball and lacks the same intensity he showed in his college tape.

Niang looks like he is continuing to work his way back from injury.

Defensive Line (9)

On the roster: George Karlaftis, Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Mike Danna, Derrick Nnadi, Tershawn Wharton, Keondre Coburn, Malik Herring, Danny Shelton and BJ Thompson
Six-game suspension: Charles Omenihu
Did not report list: Chris Jones
Practice Squad possibility: Truman Jones and Daniel Wise
Out: Joshua Kaindoh, Chris Williams and Phil Hoskins

The Chiefs are thin at the three-tech spot with the absence of Chris Jones and Wharton returning from injury. It will likely be a mixture of Wharton on limited snaps and Herring and Danna depending on the down.

Thompson may find himself on the practice squad with the limited snaps he saw during the preseason, but I’m leaving him on the roster because of the draft pick investment. He will essentially replace the developmental role that Kaindoh maintained for the past three years.

Truman Jones has a ton of pass-rushing and special teams promise for the practice squad.

Linebackers (5)

On the roster: Drue Tranquill, Nick Bolton, Willie Gay Jr., Leo Chenal and Jack Cochrane
Practice Squad possibility: Cam Jones and Olakunle Fatukasi
Out: Cole Christiansen

The team is set at their top four linebacker spots.

Cochrane gets the nod over Jones because of his ability on special teams. Fatukasi has promising athletic ability that could be developed on the practice squad, he just signed with the team too late. His impact could be felt in the second half of the season or 2024.

Cornerbacks (5)

On the roster: L’Jarius Sneed, Trent McDuffie, Jaylen Watson, Joshua Williams and Nic Jones
Practice Squad Potential: Ekow Boye-Doe, Dicaprio Bootle and Kahlef Hailassie
Out: Reese Taylor, Lamar Jackson and Duron Lowe

The cornerback group will be interesting to watch on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The status of Sneed and Jones will determine if Boye-Doe or Bootle find a spot on the 53-man roster. Both could be placed on short-term injured reserve or left on the 53. The team could also keep six corners and release Deon Bush before bringing him back a day or so later.

Safety (5)

On the roster: Justin Reid, Bryan Cook, Mike Edwards, Chamarri Conner and Deon Bush
Practice Squad potential: Anthony Cook
Out: Isaiah Norman

Conner should slowly begin the process of filling in for Sneed. Bush is a good four-phase special teams performer — he might be released for a day, if needed, but I expect him to be back.

Specialist (3)

On the roster: Harrison Butker, Tommy Townsend and James Winchester

The Chiefs have a reliable combination among their specialists.

Roster Breakdown

Offense: 26

Defense: 24

Specialist: 3

All teams must reduce their rosters from 90 to 53 players on Tuesday, Aug. 29.

Waiver claim notifications will be announced on Aug. 30 after 11 a.m. CT.

Practice squads of 16 players can be signed after the end of waiver claim notifications.

The Chiefs will begin the regular season against the Detroit Lions on Sept. 7. You can catch that game on KSHB 41 — Your Home of the Chiefs.

Our coverage begins at 4 p.m. Kickoff is set for 7:20 p.m.