KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The third and final edition of my Kansas City Chiefs 53-man roster projection will be a little complicated given the unknown about some injuries.
General Manager Brett Veach and his scouting department will have some tough decisions ahead, but likely also remain on the lookout for depth at cornerback, offensive tackle, running back and tight end.
Below is a reflection of my assessment after eight practices and four preseason games to evaluate. An "*" indicates a potential practice squad candidate:
53-man roster: Patrick Mahomes and Matt Moore
Injured reserve: Chad Henne
Cut: Kyle Shurmur* and Chase Litton
The Chiefs' depth took a big hit with the loss of Henne to a broken ankle. Newly signed backup Matt Moore provides the team with a veteran presence, good athletic ability and an accurate ball. The strategy the team will need to decide is if they want to put Henne on IR before the 3 p.m. deadline Aug. 31 or after, in the event the team wants the option to bring him back before the end of the season.
Shurmur grew throughout the preseason. He didn't look as overwhelmed in his progressions and throws an accurate ball between the numbers. He will need to improve his throws outside the numbers and pocket presence, but Litton didn't build on last season. He still struggles locking on receivers and gauges the depth of his throws.
The third quarterback, likely Shurmur, should be able to clear waivers given how much development he (or Litton) needs and get added to the practice squad.
RUNNING BACKS/FULLBACK (4)
53-man roster: Damien Williams, Darwin Thompson, Darrel Williams and Anthony Sherman
Cut: Carlos Hyde, Tremon Smith and Marcus Marshall*
The Chiefs' running back decision seems to have come into focus. Thompson has become the team's No. 2 running back as Darrel Williams didn't see much time in the third preseason game, though he is a key special teams contributor.
Hyde's drop down the depth chart, signified by playing late into the third preseason game and a lot during the fourth game, indicates he might be with a new team soon.
Smith might make the roster purely on special teams ability, but the roster has plenty of returners to fill his void. Marshall showed potential as a power running back worth developing. The position may not be settled, but the Chiefs may need to add to the position after Henne or someone else goes on injured reserve.
WIDE RECEIVERS (7)
53-man roster: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman Jr., Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, De'Anthony Thomas and Cody Thompson
Injured reserve: Gehrig Dieter
Cut: Rashard Davis, Jamal Custis, Felton Davis and Jalen Tolliver
Thompson came on strong in the final three preseason games and warrants a roster spot. The tough decision will be if the team wants to keep seven receivers for special team purposes. It would be a potential concern to expose Thompson to the waiver wires with the Bears, Bills, Browns, Colts and Eagles routinely keeping close tabs on the Chiefs roster decisions. Davis has potential worth developing but I expect him to be claimed by another NFL team.
TIGHT ENDS (3)
53-man roster: Travis Kelce, Blake Bell and Nick Keizer
Injured reserve: John Lovett and Deon Yelder
Cut: Manasseh Garner and Jody Fortson*
The tight end competition started off slow, but Bell, Yelder and Keizer all showcased NFL ability throughout the preseason.
Bell provides the best athletic ability and an attitude when blocking. Yelder's ankle injury leaves his status uncertain. Keizer put on strong receiving, blocking and special teams performances during the final two weeks with increased snaps.
Finally, Fortson showed flashes during his final preseason and may be worth a spot to develop on the practice squad.
OFFENSIVE LINE (8)
53-man roster: Eric Fisher, Andrew Wylie, Austin Reiter, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Mitchell Schwartz, Jeff Allen, Cameron Erving and Nick Allegretti
Cut: Kahlil McKenzie, Pace Murphy* , Dino Boyd* , Ryan Hunter, Jimmy Murray, Zack Golditch and Chidi Okeke
The Chiefs might need to continue looking for offensive tackle depth via trade of the waiver wire this weekend, but the eight above separated themselves from the rest. There is developmental promise in Murphy and Boyd.
DEFENSIVE LINE (8)
53-man roster: Frank Clark, Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Alex Okafor, Khalen Saunders, Emmanuel Ogbah, Xavier Williams and Tanoh Kpassagnon
Injured reserve: Breeland Speaks
Cut: Joey Ivie*, Justin Hamilton, Rob McCray*, Cavon Walker* and Hunter Dimick
The injury to Speaks creates an interesting decision for the team. They will need to decide if they want to put him on injured reserve and end his season or wait until after 3 p.m. on Saturday, so he could potentially make a late-season return.
Speaks' injury increases the chances Grandview native Xavier Williams makes the roster, but it also hurt the chances of Ivie potentially making the initial roster.
The Chiefs might need to take a number from the defensive line based on the IR decisions with Speaks and Henne. McCray and Walker both had strong showings and are worthy of practice squad consideration.
53-man roster: Damien Wilson, Darron Lee, Anthony Hitchens, Dorian O'Daniel, Ben Niemann, Reggie Ragland and Jeremiah Attaochu
Injured reserve: Darius Harris
Cut: Raymond Davison* and D'Juan Hines
The fact that Ragland played and Darron Lee did not in the final preseason game was very interesting. The team has been moving Ragland around and his ability in coverage has proven to be a cause for concern.
Attaochu took advantage of his reps throughout the preseason and was a strong performer at defensive end, linebacker and special teams.
53-man roster: Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, Charvarius Ward and Rashad Fenton
Suspension: Morris Claiborne
Cut: Michael Hunter, Herb Miller*, Mark Fields, D'Montre Wade and Dakari Monroe
The Chiefs have four corners worthy of roster spots. The initial 53 might only have four on the roster with another coming from a trade or a waiver wire addition. There is also a chance that Michael Hunter makes the final 53.
Herb Miller played himself off the roster with his inability to contain the edge and some coverage hiccups, but he has room to develop on the practice squad. Fields unfortunately had a rough fourth preseason game when it mattered the most.
The short-term fifth corner likely is on another NFL roster at this time until Morris Claiborne returns from suspension.
53-man roster: Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornhill, Daniel Sorensen, Jordan Lucas and Armani Watts
Cut: Harold Jones-Quartey and Andrew Soroh
The safety position looks to be the strongest it has been in years. The Chiefs could carry five safeties to help with the deficiencies at corner.
53-man roster: Dustin Colquitt, Harrison Butker and James Winchester
Cut: Jack Fox
The Chiefs appear locked in with the top three here.
Offense: 24 — Defense: 24 — Special teams: 3
The roster equals out to 51 players to account for the option of placing Breeland Speaks and Chad Henne on the injured reserve after the initial roster cut down.
Otherwise, the potential moves based on those decisions are accounted for in the position grouping.
Nick Jacobs can be found on Twitter: @Jacobs71. You can also download the weekly 4th and 1 podcast on Apple, Google Podcast, Spotify and Stitcher.