Running Backs (3): Isiah Pacheco, Jerick McKinnon (Projected FA signing), 2023 Rookie
At the time I’m writing this, the Chiefs only have Isiah Pacheco, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and La’Mical Perine on the roster at running back. Pacheco is the only lock to be on the roster, CEH may very well be traded later in the offseason, and Perine will probably be a training camp casualty. I believe the team will re-sign Jerick McKinnon at some point before training camp. Remember, the Chiefs didn’t officially bring him back last year until the middle of June, so the door definitely isn’t closed for a reunion.
I think CEH will be traded at some point (the team will save $2M in cap space by trading him), Pacheco will obviously still be on the team, and I’m projecting McKinnon to be brought back. I also would be relatively surprised if they don’t draft another running back this weekend. I’m not shutting the door for CEH to still be on the team but I think it’s in the best interest of all parties if there’s a parting of ways.
I decided to not include a fullback in the final version. Michael Burton, who’s now in Denver, only saw 75 snaps on offense last season and was almost exclusively a special teams guy. I wouldn’t be caught off guard if they used a 7th-round pick on someone like Hunter Luepke from North Dakota St. but I presume that Blake Bell can play the role of fullback if needed.
Wide Receivers (6): Kadarius Toney, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, Justin Watson, Richie James, 2023 Rookie
Toney, MVS, and Moore are all locks to make the team, while Watson and James are pretty safe bets. Though I’m not as worried about the wide receiver room as much as other fans, I still hold the opinion that the team is best served to draft another one on Thursday or Friday. Whether it’s in the first, second, or third round, if at all, I project that the Chiefs will add another receiver for Patrick Mahomes by the end of the weekend.
Personally, I’m not a believer in Justyn Ross. He hasn’t been a productive player since before the pandemic and his injury history may have taken a hit to his talent. I hope I’m wrong but I think he’s just a dollar scratcher at this point. John Ross’ speed is intriguing but he hasn’t demonstrated in the NFL that he can stay on a roster. He was out of the NFL completely in 2022.
Tight Ends (4): Travis Kelce, Noah Gray, Jody Fortson, Blake Bell
Kansas City selecting a tight end early in the draft is more of a possibility than most fans believe. The tight-end draft class is loaded at the top and is incredibly deep. Travis Kelce is now in his mid-30s, I’m losing faith in Noah Gray as a pass catcher, same with Fortson, and Blake Bell is just a blocking tight end. In the end, I think the team will run it back with their tight end room. Matt Bushman, who had a very strong preseason last year before an injury, may play spoiler but he’ll likely be destined for the practice squad.
Offensive Tackles (4): Jawaan Taylor, Lucas Niang, Prince Tega Wanogho, 2023 Rookie
Offensive tackle is one of the most intriguing groups on the team. Jawaan Taylor, who has always been a right tackle, could be asked to play left tackle, but only if the team doesn’t draft a young blindside blocker this weekend. Who knows where Lucas Niang is at in his development and the Chiefs appear to still have a belief in Prince Tega Wanogho.
Similar to wide receiver, I still fully expect the team to select an offensive tackle at some point in the draft. They could trade up in the first round for one but I can also foresee a situation where they wait until the 3rd or 4th round to address the position. It will depend on how the board falls.
Another factor in the draft plans at OT is how the team views Lucas Niang. He missed the high majority of last season due to a patellar injury suffered in Week 17 of 2021. If the coaching staff is a believer in him, then it would make sense to address other needs with their premium picks. If they’re uncertain, one would think they bring in another guy via the draft.
Interior Offensive Linemen (5): Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith, Nick Allegretti, Darian Kinnard
This was the easiest position group to project, other than special teams. Thuney, Humphrey, and Smith are stone-cold locks to be on the roster, while Allegretti is a great depth option on the interior and Kinnard is still developing. Out of the five guys I have listed here, Kinnard is the one I can see having the lowest odds of making the final roster. The team may also view him as a tackle but he was projected as more of a guard coming out of college last year.