This is a study in depth. Here is a list of the top 10 Kansas City Chiefs players as of today… and then that list is shuffled to reflect how good their position is with the best backup player added in. Put those two players together and they move up or down the list accordingly. So, let’s begin with my top-10 list of players alone, plus an honorable mention list.
Top 10 List:
1. Jamaal Charles
2. Justin Houston
3. Travis Kelce
4. Dontari Poe
5. Jeremy Maclin
6. Alex Smith
7. Sean Smith
8. Tamba Hali
9. Derrick Johnson
10. Ben Grubbs
Honorable Mention List:
11. Eric Berry
12. Anthony Sherman
13. Allen Bailey
14. Mike DeVito
This list isn’t meant to elicit debate about the order it was placed in. It’s offered as a template for discussion when compared to the following list which will include each player’s primary backup… then their order is recalculated. Now that list may be worth debating.
Top 10 List Plus a Primary Backup:
1. Jamaal Charles + Knile Davis (even)
2. Justin Houston + Dee Ford (even)
3. Sean Smith + Phillip Gaines (+ 4)
4. Alex Smith + Chase Daniel (+2)
5. Tamba Hali + Dee Ford (+3)
6. Derrick Johnson + Josh Mauga (+3)
7. Allen Bailey + Jaye Howard or Mike Catapano (+6)
8. Mike DeVito + Jaye Howard or Mike Catapano (+6)
9. Ben Grubbs + Jeff Allen (+1)
10. Travis Kelce + Demetrius Harris, Richard Gordon or James O’Shaughnessy [?] (-7)
11. Dontari Poe + Rakeem Nunez-Roches [?] (-7)
12. Jeremy Maclin + Albert Wilson [?] (-7)
13. Eric Berry* + Tyvon Branch (-2)
14. Anthony Sherman + [?] (no backup)
*NCAD- Not Cleared for Active Duty
So, what’s happened since the best players showed up at the head of the top 10 list? Essentially, every player who had a “known” backup moved ahead of players whose backups were yet to be decided. Look what happened to Derrick Johnson last year. Yes, his backup stepped in and played admirably but the defense also dropped to 28th in the league at stopping the run. At least he had a solid backup and now he’s returning and should contribute this season.
Add Phillip Gaines to Sean Smith at the cornerback position and it jumps from No. 7 to No. 3 especially when you consider they also added Marcus Peters and Steven Nelson through the draft while maintaining the core of a very good group that ranked second at stopping the pass in 2014.
Since Alex Smith and Chase Daniel are both well versed in the Andy Reid’s system and Daniel has gotten at least a little experience, the quarterback position has moved from sixth to fourth because of that depth.
Conversely, Dontari Poe and the nose tackle position has fallen from fourth to 11th. If Poe goes down, the Chiefs have done absolutely zero this offseason to stabilize the depth of that position. Relying upon a 6-foot-2, 307-pound rookie like Rakeem Nunez-Roches would likely cause the Chiefs defense to hemorrhage in the middle. Hopefully, John Dorsey can pick up a player who is cut by another team before the season begins, much as he did to get 6-foot-5, 328-pound Kevin Vickerson last year.
Although I’m naming Jeff Allen as Ben Grubbs backup here, the fact is, that person is yet unknown and if it is Jeff Allen (I assume it will be since he started there for two years) I have little faith in him. So, from numbers nine through 14, little is known about who would backup the starter should the angry-angel-of-injury strike as it seems to each year in some way.
Next: The Pro Bowl power...