The Chiefs didn’t select any inside linebackers in the draft, but that doesn’t mean Mauga’s starting spot is safe. He’s good for what he is as a solid weak-side linebacker next to Derrick Johnson, but there’s no denying the higher upsides that both Justin March and Ramik Wilson have.
The biggest obstacles they seem to be facing, however, is what Mauga’s biggest strength is. March and Wilson both need to instill enough confidence in the coaching staff that they understand all the assignments and responsibilities of the position. We know the talent is there, but it’s going to take more than just that to beat out a well respected veteran in Mauga. I don’t think his roster spot is in jeopardy, but he will definitely have some serious competition for his starting spot.
Prediction: Mauga wins the job out of camp but March earns his way into the starting spot by midseason.
It was shaping up that Nelson had a clear cut opportunity to win the nickle corner position for this season, but then the Chiefs drafted three, talented corners that could all play either inside or outside. Nelson will certainly still be in the mix, but now instead of being the only real option he’ll likely be battling with at least two players between Philip Gaines, KeiVarae Russell, Eric Murray, and D.J. White.
Similar to Mauga, I think Nelson’s roster spot is safe regardless of his role, but he definitely won’t be handed a role just because he spent a year learning the position. The Chiefs now have some talented and versatile corners, and it’ll be very interesting to see how it all plays out.
Prediction: Gaines starts at outside corner and moves to slot corner in nickle/dime packages, Russell plays outside in nickle/dime packages, Nelson plays slot corner in dime packages.
What other players do you think have pressure to secure their roster spot or role? I didn’t include some obvious bubble players like Knile Davis and Marcus Cooper, but you could definitely make a case for a few other players that will really need strong training camps to keep/earn their spot.
All in all, the Chiefs have one of the strongest rosters they’ve had in years, and it’ll be fun to see capable, talented players battle it out for certain roles on the team.