Kansas City Chiefs roster still has post-draft questions


Post-draft euphoria is alive and well throughout the NFL. It’s amazing how a sixth-round pick, previously unheard of, now suddenly guarantees the Jaguars will win the next five Super Bowls. Of course, I don’t know how they figure that, based on what Browns fans are telling me about their new undrafted free agents. And you can’t forget about the Cardinals getting Gerald Christian with the last pick in the draft. But let’s face it, Chiefs fans really aren’t any different…

The Chiefs added nine new players this past weekend through the NFL Draft, as well as a number of young hopefuls via the undrafted free agent market. However, even with the influx of these new players, questions remain about certain aspects of the Chiefs roster heading into the offseason camps.

The Chiefs added Georgia linebacker, Ramik Wilson, in the draft, but can he beat out Josh Mauga? Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Inside Linebacker: While the Chiefs did add a pair of players at inside linebacker, it still remains to be seen what will happen at the spot next to Derrick Johnson. Josh Mauga was re-signed in the offseason, which points to him as the other starter. That really isn’t an option Chiefs fans should be excited about.

While Mauga did rack up 100+ tackles last year, a review of the game film shows that this wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Mauga often first made contact well past the line of scrimmage. On top of that, for all of his tackles, he has very few actual “plays.” What I mean by that is, there are few forced fumbles, pass breakups, or event tackles for loss. Add to this the fact that the Chiefs were terrible against the run, and it isn’t really a ringing endorsement of Mauga’s ability.

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The other options really aren’t that exciting either. James-Michael Johnson had some hype after impressing in Week 17 of the 2013 season, but failed to even come close to meeting the expectations set for him. I now think that he’s a player on the roster bubble. Fans are certainly excited about draft pick, Ramik Wilson, as am I. However, Wilson is a fourth-round rookie, which means he has some work to do before he’s ready to go. The same is true of DJ Alexander, who was added in the fifth round.

Chris Conley blew everyone away at the Combine, but will it translate into productivity on the field? Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Wide Receiver: The Chiefs added a pair of interesting prospects at wide receiver in Combine standout, Chris Conley, and draftnik darling, Donatella Luckett. However, both players are projects at this point, and neither figures to be an immediate contributor. Of course the Chiefs did score with undrafted free agent Albert Wilson last year, so it isn’t a foregone conclusion that the new additions won’t contribute.

The Chiefs are clearly counting on Albert Wilson and Jason Avant to be upgrades over Donnie Avery and AJ Jenkins. Both Wilson and Avant showed last year that they can certainly be upgrades, but it is still a bit risky to put so much hope into that. At the “X” position, the Chiefs made a clear investment in improving by signing Jeremy Maclin to replace Dwayne Bowe. Even still, the wide receiver position is anything but settled at the moment.

Mitch Morse will be a hometown favorite for Chiefs fans, but can he take a starting role in our offensive line? Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Center: While most agree that Mitch Morse has the makings of a solid NFL offensive lineman, most also agree that the Chiefs made a pretty big reach in taking him in the second round. As of now, the Chiefs are listing Morse as a backup at center. That is another indication that they intend to move forward with Eric Kush getting the start.

The most frustrating part about this is the unknown. Chiefs fans haven’t gotten much of a look at Kush outside of some cool workout videos. And while Morse will definitely have a strong local fan club, he is still considered a bit of a project.

Can Demetrius Harris take the next step in his development? Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Tight End: While it is obvious that the Chiefs like what they have in Travis Kelce, the backup pecking order remains in doubt.

Demetrius Harris made the important and difficult transition from athlete to football player last year, but is still more potential than production at this point. Veteran Richard Gordon isn’t going to wow anyone with his resume. And newly added James O’Shaughnessy offers a lot of raw physical tools, but is a long way away from being ready to step on the field.

The ideal scenario here is that Harris continues his development and becomes a reliable backup option. He has all kinds of potential as a tight end, but there is no telling how much of that he will ever put into action. The Chiefs were successful in three tight end sets last year, but none of the current options on the roster offer the same assurances that Anthony Fasano gave.

So while the Chiefs did add a number of quality prospects at positions of need, there still remains some questions as to how these spots will play out. The Chiefs definitely need to hit on a couple of these draft picks, and the sooner the better. Year three is often a make-or-break season for a general manager, so John Dorsey is probably a little anxious to see what happens.