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  • 25 Jul
    The 90-man roster released Monday can help us get a glimpse
    of what we might see in September"With the release of the Kansas City Chiefs’
    90-man roster on
    Monday Juan
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    , we finally have a rough picture of the players
    the Chiefs will use to construct their final 53-man roster this fall.There’s
    every reason to expect there will be more changes as we continue through the
    offseason — one new player has already been signed since the roster was released
    — but we thought it would be illuminating to use the 53-man roster from the
    beginning of September as a guide to break down the 90-man roster by position,
    and help us see where the team might be headed in 2019.Offensive lineSeptember:
    Mitch Morse, Bryan Witzmann, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Kahlil McKenzie, Eric
    Fisher, Mitch Schwartz, Andrew Wylie, Jordan Devey and Cam Erving.The Chiefs
    started the season with nine offensive linemen: a center, three guards, three
    tackles and two swing linemen.Almost immediately, Witzmann was released, swing
    lineman Cam Erving took over at left guard, and Austin Reiter was brought
    up.Erving, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Kahlil McKenzie, Eric Fisher, Mitchell
    Schwartz, Andrew Wylie, Dino Boyd, Ryan Hunter, Pace Murphy and Justin SeniorThe
    Chiefs currently have 13 offensive linemen on the roster.All five of last year’s
    starters are likely to return.Reiter will face competition from seventh-round
    pick Allegretti, but Allegretti could just as easily make the team as a swing
    lineman; think of him as taking Devey’s spot. McKenzie — who was on the active
    roster, but inactive for every game in 2018 — seems to be a player the Chiefs
    want to keep developing.Wylie is likely to make the team as a backup tackle.That
    makes eight.Five players — all but Murray listed as tackles — will likely be
    competing for the last spot on the offensive line.Tight endSeptember: Travis
    Kelce and Alex EllisDemetrius Harris wasn’t on the opening roster because he was
    set to serve a suspension in Week 1.He replaced Ellis in Week 2.Now: Travis
    Kelce, Blake Bell, John Lovett, Deon Yelder and David WellsFive tight ends are
    now on the roster.Kelce is obviously a lock.Many expected — perhaps hoped — the
    Chiefs would get a tight end in the draft, but that didn’t happen.So now it
    looks like four players will compete to back up Kelce.Bell — with NFL playing
    experience — would seem to have the inside
    track Juan Thornhill
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    , but Lovett is a wild card.The Chiefs seem to
    think this former college quarterback — like both Kelce and Bell — has potential
    as an NFL tight end or H-back.Andy Reid is always thinking.Running
    backSeptember: Kareem Hunt, Spencer Ware, Damien Williams, Darrel Williams,
    Anthony ShermanThe Chiefs started the season with five running backs — including
    fullback Sherman.With the release of Hunt and another injury to Ware, Damien
    Williams was the starter by season’s end, backed up by Darrel Williams and the
    returning Charcandrick West.Now: Damien Williams, Carlos Hyde, Darrel Williams,
    Darwin Thompson, James Williams, J.D. Moore, Marcus Marshall and Anthony
    ShermanThe Chiefs have eight running backs on the roster.It’s easy to guess
    Damien Williams will return as the starter with Hyde as his main backup —
    although it’s not very hard to imagine those roles could be reversed.With Aaron
    Ripkowski’s release after his early offseason signing, it seems clear that
    Sherman will again be the team’s fullback.The Chiefs have seemed high on Darrel
    Williams, but they seem high on sixth-round pick Thompson and UDFA James
    Williams, too.It comes down to this: five players will be competing for two
    backup positions, and it looks like it will be an interesting battle.Note:
    Marcus Marshall was signed after the release of the first 90-man roster.At this
    writing, the corresponding roster move is unknown.Wide receiverSeptember: Tyreek
    Hill, Sammy Watkins, Chris Conley, Demarcus Robinson, De’Anthony Thomas, Marcus
    KempThe Chiefs began 2018 with six wide receivers.Thomas was injured early in
    the season, and Watkins’ availability was inconsistent throughout the year,
    which allowed Gehrig Dieter to see playing time.Now: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins,
    Demarcus Robinson, Marcus
    Kemp Kansas City Chiefs
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    , Gehrig Dieter, Mecole Hardman, last year’s linebacker
    corps.Jones, Nnadi, Clark and Okafor (or Ogbah) look like the starters, with
    returning veteran Williams and third-round pick Saunders backing up the starting
    tackles. Either Okafor or Ogbah — along with Speaks and Kpassagnon — will
    compete for the two backup defensive end positions.Right now it looks like
    Speaks or Kpassagnon will be mutually exclusive; if one of them makes the team,
    the other probably won’t.LinebackerSeptember: Justin Houston, Dee Ford, Tanoh
    Kpassagnon, Breeland Speaks, Anthony Hitchens, Reggie Ragland, Ben Niemann,
    Dorian O’ Daniel and Terrance SmithLast season, the Chiefs started with nine
    linebackers to run the 3-4.We’re guessing they’ll carry seven to run the 4-3
    Under.Now: Damien Wilson, Jeremiah Attaochu, Reggie Ragland, Ben Niemann,
    Anthony Hitchens, Dorian O’Daniel, Rob McCray, Martrell Spaight, Raymond
    Davison, Darius Harris and Gary JohnsonExactly how Spagnuolo will arrange his
    Sam, Mike and Will linebackers in his 4-3 Under scheme is shrouded in
    mystery.For guidance, I reached out to our Craig Stout, who thinks the Chiefs
    will go with Wilson and Attaochu as the starter and backup at Sam, Ragland and
    Niemann at Mike Kansas
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    , and Hitchens and O’Daniel at Will.But Craig
    also thinks the Chiefs would be better off with Hitchens and Ragland as the Mike
    linebackers, with O’Daniel and Johnson as the Will players.So while we don’t yet
    know how they’ll be lined up, it looks like Wilson, Attaouchu, Ragland, Hitchens
    and O’Daniel have the best chance at the first five roster spots, with Niemann
    and Johnson leading the other six linebackers competing for the last
    two.Defensive backSeptember: Kendall Fuller, Steve Nelson, Orlando Scandrick,
    Tremon Smith, Charvarius Ward, Eric Berry, Armani Watts, Eric Murray, Jordan
    Lucas, Daniel SorensenThe team started 2018 with 10 defensive backs — five
    cornerbacks and five safeties.Berry was “day-to-day” until the final games of
    the year, Watts was lost to injury early on, and the secondary was basically a
    mess — although both Ward and Lucas showed flashes late in the year.Now:Kendall
    Fuller, Bashaud Breeland, Charvarius Ward, Keith Reaser, Tremon Smith, Rashad
    Fenton, Tyrann Mathieu, Armani Watts, Juan Thornhill, Jordan Lucas, Daniel
    Sorensen Juan Thornhill
    black jersey
    , Leon McQuay, Jalin Burrell, Mark Fields, Dontae Johnson,
    Harold Jones-Quartey, Dakari Monroe and D’Montre WadeThe Chiefs have acquired a
    lot of players to try and upgrade this position group for 2019 — 18 defensive
    backs are now on the roster.Fuller and Breeland look like the likely starters at
    cornerback, followed by Ward, Reaser, Smith and/or possibly Fenton.Smith has so
    far seen little NFL experience at his position, so it will be interesting to see
    if he continues to get a lot of work as a kick returner, or if Fenton (or
    possibly Hardman) gets more of that work in 2019.Mathieu is clearly a lock at
    starting safety, but there are a lot of players lined up who could conceivably
    be starters alongside him.Watts now seems like the safest bet as the other
    starter, but cases could also be made for the just-drafted Thornhill, Lucas and
    Sorensen.SpecialistsSeptember: Harrison Butker, Dustin Colquitt and James
    WinchesterNow: Harrison Butker, Dustin Colquitt, Jack Fox and James
    WinchesterNot much to see here.The Chiefs clearly feel comfortable with Butker
    and Winchester; no players are on the roster to challenge them.The team is doing
    its due diligence with Fox, but Colquitt is likely to remain as the old man of
    the team.That’s how the 53-man roster looks to us right now.How does it look to
    you? After the Chiefs’ season came to an end in the AFC Championship Game, Dee
    Ford said he has no problem with the team using the franchise tag to keep him in
    the fold in 2019.The Chiefs have not made any announcements about their plans on
    that front, but it certainly sounds like there are no plans to let Ford get away
    this offseason. The defensive look is expected to change with Steve Spagnuolo
    taking over as defensive coordinator for Bob Sutton, but pass rushers are always
    at a premium and General Manager Brett Veach didn’t sound like he’s preparing to
    say goodbye to Ford.“We’re excited about bringing him back,” Veach said, via
    Matt Derrick of .Veach was not quite as emphatic when it came to Justin
    Houston‘s future in Kansas City. Houston is set to make $15.25 million with a
    cap hit of $21.1 million with $14 million coming back to the team if they move
    on without him. They could also look into other alterations to the contract and
    Veach said there will “be a time and place” to go through the various scenarios
    involving Houston.