When you pick at the end of each round of the NFL Draft and are tight up against the cap every year, you have to take advantage of every resource at your disposal. One of the best ways to take advantage is to use your scouting department to find the needles in the undrafted free agent haystack.
Everyone knows the stories of Kurt Warner, James Harrison and former Chief Brian Waters, but there are some great active UDFAs around the league as well. Those include the likes of Adam Thielen, Jason Peters and Austin Ekeler.
There are several former undrafted rookies projected to make the Chiefs' 53-man roster this year. Wide receiver/tight end Jody Fortson, defensive tackle Tershawn Wharton, linebacker Jack Cochrane, long snapper James Winchester and punter Tommy Townsend are either all locks or have a very good shot at making the roster in 2023.
At the end of the day, who cares what round or how a rookie cracks the roster? Andy Reid and Brett Veach have been brilliant at identifying talent during and after the draft and putting the best 53 on the field. Sure, these guys are long shots, but June is no time to have reasonable expectations.
And, if nothing else, many of these UDFAs can become practice squad staples. That can be enormously valuable for roster construction in future years after having experienced players in the system for a year or two.
Not to mention, everybody loves an underdog story. Every fan base crazes it and romances about it. Think about the hype that has surrounded Justyn Ross and Jody Fortson. As fans, we love the idea of the unknown and we love living to tell the story of the guy who did not have a chance.
The Chiefs drafted 10 rookies last year, so there was no room for a Rookie UDFA to crack the roster in 2022. But in 2023 Kansas City drafted just seven rookies, which could make for a different story.
Now that mini-camp is wrapped up and we have a date for training camp, here are the top undrafted candidates that have the best chance at making the Chiefs' Opening Night Roster.
Jerome Carvin, Offensive Guard, Tennessee
You always need bodies along the offensive line in the NFL. Jerome Carvin tallied up 43 starts in college—thoseincluded 21 at left guard, 17 at right guard, and five at center.
He’s a prime practice squad candidate because two-time Super Bowl Champion Nick Allegretti just signed a one-year deal. Carvin, who has familiarity with Trey Smith from their days at Tennessee, could fill such a void in 2024. We all know how much Andy Reid and Andy Heck love versatility in offensive linemen.
Nikko Remigio, Wide Receiver, Fresno State
After completing four years at the University of California, Nikko Remigio became a graduate transfer at Fresno State. He caught an impressive 74 balls on 96 targets and totaled 852 yards.
Where Remigio could make his hay is impressing special teams coordinator Dave Toub. Last season he averaged 16.2 yards per punt return and two touchdowns. In 2021 at Cal, he also ran back a kick return for a touchdown.
While the Chiefs receiving core lacks top-end talent, the group as a whole is incredibly deep and will be a tough unit to crack. The Chiefs have guys like Richie James, Kadarius Toney, Skyy Moore and Isiah Pacheco all with return experience while they try to stash Remigio on the practice squad.