Nick Jacobs: Predicting Chiefs’ 53-man roster for 2021 season, v2.0

Cardinals game prompts some changes
Chiefs Cardinals Football
Posted at 10:29 AM, Aug 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-23 14:18:55-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs have one preseason game left before they need to make their final roster decisions.

The Chiefs reduced their roster on Monday morning announcing the release of defensive end Taco Charlton, safety Will Parks, and offensive lineman Bryan Witzmann. The team also announced they had waived linebacker Riley Cole and quarterback Anthony Gordon.

Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach will have a couple of tough decisions to make on numbers at positions. including wide receiver, offensive line, defensive line, cornerback and safety.

The battles are coming down to the final four to five players on the roster.

Here is the latest look after Friday's preseason win at the Arizona Cardinals:

Quarterbacks (2)
Patrick Mahomes and Chad Henne

The Chiefs will need to decide if there is a third veteran on the market they covet when final cuts are made. Otherwise, Shane Buechele has shown his worthiness of being developed on the practice squad.

Practice squad potential: Shane Buechele

Running backs (4)
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams, Jerick McKinnon and Michael Burton

Numbers-wise, the Chiefs may need to risk sneaking Darwin Thompson onto the practice squad. He is pushing hard for a roster spot, though, in case there is an injury in the next preseason game.

Derrick Gore made the most of his snaps and should hopefully find a roster spot with another team. His athletic ability limits him in the Chiefs' scheme.

Practice squad potential: Darwin Thompson
Moving on: Derrick Gore

Wide receivers (6)
Tyreek Hill, Byron Pringle, Mecole Hardman Jr., Demarcus Robinson, Cornell Powell and Marcus Kemp

The receiver group didn’t shine on Friday night and the team would be well within reason to look for an additional receiver or two on the waiver wire or in free agency in the weeks ahead.

They will likely have to find a player who comes from a team which relies on a similar skill-set emphasis such as the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Indianapolis Colts, Philadelphia Eagles, Green Bay Packers, Los Angeles Rams, New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Texans.

It will be interesting to see what the Chiefs decide to do with Powell, Kemp and Daurice Fountain. Kemp and Fountain have both pushed enough to justify roster spots, but the draft-pick investment in Powell may only leave one spot.

It wouldn't surprise me to see Gehrig Dieter on the practice squad. This will be his fifth season with the team that likely only includes a special teams impact at best.

Practice squad potential: Daurice Fountain and Maurice Ffrench
Moving on: Gehrig Dieter, Dalton Schoen and Darrius Shepherd

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

The Chiefs would benefit from keeping four tight ends. Kelce, Bell and Fortson are all effective blockers and good athletes.

Kelce, Fortson and Gray are all capable of being split out wide.

Fortson, Bell and Gray can all help and be strong special teams performers.

Offensive line (10)
Orlando Brown Jr., Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith, Lucas Niang, Mike Remmers, Austin Blythe, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Andrew Wylie and Nick Allegretti

The Chiefs will likely need to keep 10 offensive linemen for week one.

Injuries to Austin Blythe, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Kyle Long will require an extra body on the active 53, if they are unable to join the roster.

Physically unable to perform list: Kyle Long
Practice squad potential: Yasir Durant, Darryl Williams and Wyatt Miller
Moving on: Prince Tega Wanogho

Defensive line (10)
Chris Jones, Mike Danna, Jarran Reed, Tershawn Wharton, Derrick Nnadi, Frank Clark, Alex Okafor, Khalen Saunders, Joshua Kaindoh and Tim Ward

The Chiefs are going to have a tough decision on keeping nine or 10 players.

Frank Clark’s status will likely force them to keep 10. The team has a great rotation, though, to keep their pass rush fresh in every game this season.

Injured reserve: Malik Herring
Practice squad potential: Tyler Clark
Moving on: Demone Harris and Austin Edwards

Linebackers (5)
Willie Gay Jr., Anthony Hitchens, Nick Bolton, Ben Niemann and Dorian O’Daniel

The Chiefs will likely keep five linebackers.

Niemann looks like he has the fourth spot locked up based on his reps and O’Daniel will likely get the nod on special teams unless Cobb can have a strong performance in his final game.

Practice squad potential: Omari Cobb and Riley Cole
Moving on: Darius Harris and Emmanuel Smith

Cornerbacks (5)
L’Jarius Sneed, Mike Hughes, Charvarius Ward, Deandre Baker and Rashad Fenton

The numbers at tight end, offensive line and defensive line will likely determine how many defensive backs the Chiefs elect to keep.

BoPete Keyes and Chris Lammons are deserving of roster spots but may get caught in a numbers game.

Practice squad potential: BoPete Keyes, Chris Lammons and Dicaprio Bootle
Moving on: Zayne Anderson

Safeties (4)
Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornhill, Daniel Sorensen and Armani Watts

The release of Will Parks might lock up the safety position with Armani Watts being a strong special teams performer.

Key has unfortunately struggled too much during preseason to earn an active roster spot.

Practice squad potential: Devon Key
Moving on: Marlon Character and Rodney Clemons

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

The Chiefs are set here.

Roster breakdown
Offense: 26
Defense: 24
Specialist: 3

The NFL is carrying over the expanded practice squad rules from the 2020 season. Teams can have 16 players with six veterans who have more than two accrued seasons.

Teams can protect four players each week and players can return from injured reserve after three weeks rather than six. Two players from the practice squad can join the active roster before the day of the game again this season.

The Chiefs will need to reduce their roster from 85 to 80 on Tuesday and will need to reduce their roster from 80 to 53 before 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 31.

The “4th & 1” podcast is the twice-weekly, Chiefs-centric podcast from 41 Action News, the official broadcast “Home of the Chiefs.” Co-hosts Nick Jacobs and Tod Palmer analyze and breakdown the Chiefs’ opponent and performance for pre- and post-game episodes — available on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or your preferred podcast platform — each week during the season.