Who will make the Kansas City Chiefs shortlist?  Here’s our projection for the 53-year-old

Who will make the Kansas City Chiefs shortlist? Here’s our projection for the 53-year-old

Through organized team activities, training camp and now three preseason games, Chiefs coach Andy Reid and his team of assistants used the offseason to assess personnel.

But there’s one more step in the process before the Chiefs head to Arizona to play the Cardinals in the 9/11 season opener, and it’s an important one: The Chiefs must reduce their roster of 80 players to 53 by 3pm. 30.

Most of the time, there shouldn’t be too many surprises. Here’s The Star’s projection of who will be part of the Chiefs’ 53-man starting roster: 25 on offense, 25 on defense, and three specialists:

QUARTERBACKS (2): Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne

The Chiefs are unlikely to carry three flags on their starting roster. Shane Beuchele moved from the practice team to the active roster during the 2021 season, but the Chiefs made the move after the Cardinals tried to sign Beuchele to the active roster because of quarterback injuries.

While there’s a risk that Beuchele could be released – he could be claimed by another team – he’s a prime candidate to join the Chiefs’ practice team.

RUNNING BACKS/FULLBACKS (4): Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon, Michael Burton

When Ronald Jones signed a one-year deal with the Chiefs during free agency, it sure looked like he would be able to help anchor his backfield with starter Edwards-Helaire.

Then the NFL Draft happened. The Chiefs used a seventh-round pick on Pacheco, who came up during training camp and bested Jones. Late in camp, Jones found himself getting handoffs from Beuchele and, at times, rookie quarterback Dustin Crum. Meanwhile, Pacheco has further cemented his position by becoming the Chiefs’ top kick return option.

Burton is a shoo-in as the lone quarterback on the roster.

WIDE RECEIVERS (6): Mecole Hardman, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, Justin Watson, Daurice Fountain

The top four receivers are not a surprise. But there is a battle for the last two spots. The Chiefs may choose to keep five wideouts, but six is ​​the sweet spot, especially with Smith-Schuster dealing with a knee injury.

Watson and Fountain bring the skill of special teams to the table, and special team coordinator Dave Toub specifically mentioned both during training camp. Look for Watson and Fountain to fill the special team roles previously held by Marcus Kemp and Byron Pringle, both now with other teams.

All this leaves Josh Gordon and Cornell Powell on the outside looking in. Powell had a good training camp and could return to the Chiefs’ training squad.

TIGHTENDS (4): Travis Kelce, Blake Bell, Noah Gray, Jody Fortson

Bell’s recent hip surgery, which will leave him out for a few weeks, makes him a wild card. The Chiefs have options, including placing Bell on injured reserve to start the season. They may choose to use the list location to reinforce another position group.

OFFENSIVE LINE (9): Orlando Brown Jr., Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith, Andrew Wylie, Nick Allegretti, Austin Reiter, Geron Christian, Prince Tega Wanogho

The top five are set, with Brown at left tackle, Thuney at left guard, Humphrey at center, Smith at right guard and Wylie at right tackle.

Allegretti and likely Reiter can play guard or center, but undrafted rookie Michael Calinedo, who can also play guard and center, will have a tough decision on whether to keep nine or 10 offensive linemen.

Christian and Tega Wanogho stand out as the most important reserve tackles. And the Chiefs need them, with Lucas Niang starting the season on the reserve/disabled (PUP) list. He will miss at least the first four games of the regular season.

Darian Kinnard, the Chiefs’ fifth-round pick this spring, typically worked with the third- and fourth-team units during camp. Unless the Chiefs decide to bring in 10 offensive linemen, Kinnard, Caliendo (if he doesn’t make it to the starting 53), Vitaliy Gurman and maybe Roderick Johnson will likely make the practice team.

DEFENSIVE ATTACKS (5): Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Tershawn Wharton, Khalen Saunders, Danny Shelton

Jones and Nnadi are stuck as starters in the Chiefs’ 4-3 base scheme, while Wharton and Saunders provide valuable depth. The Chiefs signed the massive Shelton, who stands at 6 feet, 300 pounds, during training camp, and he could make the roster because of his experience. If the Chiefs go that route, Taylor Stallworth would be out.

DEFENSIVE POINTS (5): Frank Clark, George Karlaftis, Carlos Dunlap, Mike Danna, Joshua Kaindoh

The Chiefs bolstered their passing run by using a first-round pick at Karlaftis and then signing Dunlap during training camp. Malik Herring has promise, so the Chiefs can bring him back to the practice team along with Kehinde Oginni Hassan and Matt Dickerson.

LINEBACKERS (5): Nick Bolton, Willie Gay Jr., Elijah Lee, Leo Chenal, Darius Harris

The Chiefs kept six linebackers on their starting roster of 53 players in 2021, but that was because Gay suffered a toe injury late in the preseason last summer before ending up on injured reserve.

Barring an injury, this is a healthy group and the Chiefs are expected to keep five linebackers. In that scenario, Jermaine Carter, who joined the Chiefs on a one-year contract during free agency, is the likely outsider. While Carter can contribute to special teams, Lee, rookie Chenal and Harris can too. Undrafted rookies Mike Rose and Jack Cochrane are prime candidates to join the practice team.

CORNERBACKS (6): L’Jarius Sneed, Trent McDuffie, Rashad Fenton, Joshua Williams, Jaylen Watson, Chris Lammons

The Chiefs signaled their confidence in rookies McDuffie, Williams and Watson as they parted ways with veterans Deandre Baker and Lonnie Johnson during training camp. Lammons is a favorite of Toub’s on special teams, so it’s easy to see him making the cut. Dicaprio Bootle had his moments during training camp and is expected to return to the training squad for the second straight season.

SECURITY (4): Justin Reid, Juan Thornhill, Bryan Cook, Deon Bush

The four main security points were essentially set in stone during the OTAs: Reid and Thornhill are the starters. Nazeeh Johnson, chosen in the seventh round this year, Zayne Anderson and Devon Key are candidates for the practice squad.

SPECIALISTS (3): Harrison Butker, Tommy Townsend, James Winchester

No surprises here, as the Chiefs never competed for the trio during the offseason.

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