The positions that will make or break the Chiefs in 2016

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Now that the free agency and draft dusts have settled, the Kansas City Chiefs spring program is officially underway. 2016 draft picks, undrafted free agents, and walk-ons met over the weekend on the Arrowhead practice fields. Over the next 75 days, they’ll also be hosting mini camps and organized team activities before departing for the shores of St. Joseph — their annual training camp site. The bulk of the roster is already in place.

The front office is sure to make a few more low-profile signings before all is said and done, but the key pieces are likely in house as we speak. Getting key contributions from new faces will be an integral part of taking another step forward this season, but there are several specific spots where the Chiefs need someone to distinguish themselves.

Today, I’d like to take a look at the positions in Kansas City that will have the greatest impact on the team’s trajectory in 2016. If you’ve been paying attention, the list of transactions over the past 30 days clearly spell out the team’s problem areas. Fortunately for head coach Andy Reid and company, there aren’t many glaring holes on the depth chart. Though, if I’m being honest, there are two of note on each side of the football (left/right guard, No. 2 wide receiver, No. 2 cornerback, and outside linebacker).

As I see it, the team has four main objectives at those positions:

Create comfort for Alex Smith (inside the pocket)

Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports /

Reid can expand the west coast system he installed three years ago when he arrived in Kansas City. A healthy Jamaal Charles, the addition of Rod Streater and Mike Williams, and a healthy James O’Shaughnessy should allow for a few more wrinkles in the passing offense. Charles’ injury gave Reid a chance to see what his group was capable of down the stretch in 2015.

He can continue to grow his playbook, but the weapons will be for naught if Smith doesn’t have sufficient time to throw. The Chiefs need a lift from their starting guard tandem, between the following players: Jah Reid, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Zach Fulton, Parker Ehinger and Jarrod Pughsley.

Next: Two more positions of importance...