After falling just short of another title in 2020, the Kansas City Chiefs are back and ready to win another title in 2021. Brett Veach and the Chiefs front office completely revamped part of the roster over the offseason, which makes this projection all the harder. There will be some turnover and injuries between now and the start of the season, but the Week 1 roster should look something like this.
Kansas City Chiefs 53-Man Roster Projection: Building A Champion
In: Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne
There isn’t too much to talk about here. Carrying a third quarterback is fine if you’re not sold on the starter or if you have an interesting developmental prospect, but that is not the case for Kansas City. Patrick Mahomes is the best quarterback in the NFL, and Chad Henne is a competent backup. It’s best to use the extra roster spot bolstering the depth somewhere else.
Running Back (4)
In: Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrell Williams, Jerick McKinnon, Michael Burton
After a somewhat disappointing rookie season, Clyde Edwards-Helaire is set to be the three-down back in this offense. Andy Reid prefers to use one workhorse back, but only time will tell if Edwards-Helaire’s relatively undersized frame will earn goal-line carries. If not, then Darrell Williams should see that role and has proven to be an adequate backup over the past two seasons.
Kansas City typically carries just three running backs (excluding fullback Michael Burton), and Jerick McKinnon beats out Darwin Thompson in this Kansas City Chiefs roster projection. McKinnon offers more in the passing game, although it is concerning that San Francisco limited his touches last year after his legs slowed down. If age has caught up to the veteran, then Thompson should steal the final spot.
Wide Receiver (6)
In: Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, Byron Pringle, Demarcus Robinson, Cornell Powell, Marcus Kemp
If Mecole Hardman doesn’t break out this year, he never will. The speedy receiver has all the opportunity in the world with Watkins gone, and his individual success could determine the overall ceiling of this offense. If, however, he remains a dangerous gadget player, then Byron Pringle or Demarcus Robinson will be next in line, with the slight edge going to Pringle. Cornell Powell will probably need a year or two before he’s ready to be anything more than a special teamer. Marcus Kemp wins the final spot over the more-polished Antonio Callaway, as his work on special teams is too valuable to release.
Tight End (3)
In: Travis Kelce, Blake Bell, Noah Gray
Travis Kelce and Blake Bell aren’t going anywhere, and Noah Gray wins the final spot on the tight end depth chart. The Chiefs clearly like what Gray brings to the table, and he could be an immediate contributor in the slot due to Kansas City’s questions beyond Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.
Offensive Line (10)
In: Orlando Brown, Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Kyle Long, Mike Remmers, Lucas Niang, Austin Blythe, Trey Smith, Martinas Rankin, Nick Allegretti
After watching Patrick Mahomes run for his life throughout the Super Bowl, Kansas City spent most of their offseason bolstering the offensive line depth. Orlando Brown and Joe Thuney are the two biggest names, but the entire line has improved from a season ago. The most interesting battle here will be Mike Remmers vs Lucas Niang, as Niang opted out of the 2020 season and nobody knows how good he’ll be. He obviously won’t steal Brown’s job, but he could easily be an upgrade on Remmers.
Defensive Line (10)
In: Frank Clark, Mike Danna, Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Taco Charlton, Tim Ward, Joshua Kaindoh, Jarran Reed, Tershawn Wharton, Khalen Saunders
Kansas City’s defensive strength lies in their line, so we’re carrying 10 linemen in this Chiefs roster projection. Frank Clark and Chris Jones should combine to form a powerful pass rush, while guys like Mike Danna and Derrick Nnadi can be solid starters and valuable rotational pieces. The most interesting name of the depth guys is Joshua Kaindoh, as the rookie has plenty of untapped athleticism and could turn into a major steal with some seasoning.
In: Anthony Hitchens, Willie Gay Jr., Nick Bolton, Ben Niemann, Dorian O’Daniel
Nick Bolton was Kansas City’s first selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, but he isn’t going to fly straight to the top of the depth chart. Anthony Hitchens is still a great linebacker, and Willie Gay Jr. showed a lot of promise as a rookie. Ben Niemann should provide valuable depth behind the three aforementioned players, while Dorian O’Daniel will see almost all of his time on special teams.
In: L’Jarius Snead, Charvarius Ward, DeAndre Baker, Mike Hughes, Rashad Fenton
If there is a weakness on the Kansas City Chiefs depth chart, it’s at cornerback. L’Jarius Snead and Charvarius Ward are fine players, but there is room for improvement here. Yes, Tyann Mathieu can come down and play the slot as well as anyone, but don’t be surprised if they add another body between now and the start of the season. Bashaud Breeland is still a free agent, for what it’s worth.
In: Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornhill, Daniel Sorenson, Armani Watts, Will Parks
Tyrann Mathieu and Juan Thornhill form one of the best safety duos in the league, and the depth behind them is pretty solid. Sorenson and Parks are both capable of filling in at a moments’ notice, while Armani Watts earns a special teams role.
Notes: Parks is versatile, Watts earns one of the last spots on ST
In: Harrison Butker, Tommy Townsend, James Winchester
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