“The Right 53″ Final Prediction

The preseason is over and the Chiefs are just hours away from submitting their final (for now) roster cuts to the league in order to get down to the 53-man maximum.

Some poor play by recent draft picks combined with a couple injuries will prove for more than a few difficult decisions for Scott Pioli and Todd Haley.

After over a month of trying to predict where the pieces will fall, here is my final stab at the final roster.

Is this “The Right 53″?

Quarterback (2)

Matt Cassel
Brodie Croyle

Running Back (4)

Jamaal Charles
Thomas Jones
Jackie Battle
Tim Castille

Wide Receiver (6)

Dwayne Bowe
Chris Chambers
Dexter McCluster
Jerheme Urban
Terrance Copper
Jeremy Horne

Tight End (3)

Tony Moeaki
Leonard Pope
Jake O’Connell

Offensive Line (9)

Branden Albert
Brian Waters
Casey Wiegmann
Ryan Lilja
Ryan O’Callaghan
Rudy Niswanger
Jon Asamoah
Barry Richardson
Ike Ndukwe

Defensive Line (7)

Tyson Jackson
Ron Edwards
Glenn Dorsey
Shaun Smith
Wallace Gilberry
Derek Lokey
Alex Magee

Linebacker (9)

Tamba Hali
Mike Vrabel
Derrick Johnson
Corey Mays
Demorrio Williams
Andy Studebaker
Jovan Belcher
Cameron Sheffield
Pierre Walters

Cornerback (5)

Brandon Flowers
Brandon Carr
Javier Arenas
Maurice Leggett
Travis Daniels

Safety (5)

Eric Berry
Kendrick Lewis
Jon McGraw
Reshard Langford
Donald Washington

Specialists (3)

Dustin Colquitt
Ryan Succop
Thomas Gafford

Last Five In

Ike Ndukwe
Donald Washington
Alex Magee
Travis Daniels
Pierre Walters

First Five Out

Tyler Palko
Colin Brown
David Herron
Quinten Lawrence
Garrett Brown

Bubble Thoughts

The Chiefs could very well carry three quarterbacks, but without knowing how long the injuries to O’Callaghan, Leggett and Sheffield will linger, we have to assume that Haley and Pioli will look for as much roster flexibility as possible.  Holding onto a third QB gets in the way of that flexibility.

I think the running backs, wide receivers and tight ends are all but set and have been for the past couple of weeks.  The most vulnerable player from those three positions is still Jake O’Connell, but even he showed some signs of life against the Packers.  Without much pressure behind him, O’Connell should make the cut as well.

The offensive line is where things get very interesting.  Even if we can assume O’Callaghan will be back for the opener, the Chiefs showed they have zero confidence in Colin Brown’s ability to play right tackle in any situation — game or practice — with the first unit.  So while I’ve long held the belief that they would hold onto the second year lineman after investing a draft pick, plus a year in the organization, it looks like they will cut their losses and try to get him onto the practice squad.  Ndukwe has the ability to play almost anywhere on the line, helping to bridge the gap until O’Callaghan is back to 100%.

When you look along the defensive line, the top 6 look like locks.  If they carry a seventh player (I think they will) it likely comes down to Dion Gales, Garrett Brown and Alex Magee.  With such an extreme learning curve on the defensive line, I still think the team will hold onto Magee, an ’09 third round pick.  He has done very little to earn a spot but deserves more time to get his game to the necessary level in order to compete.

The injury to Sheffield was making me wonder if the team would keep ten LBs or just replace Walters with Herron to at least make sure they have a little more experience.  But at the end of the day, with Demorrio Williams showing he can play on the outside and Derrick Johnson more than capable of starting inside there isn’t as much need for that seventh guy to be a veteran.  Walters was on the roster all of last season and I think he sticks.  The team could shift Sheffield to the PUP and keep Walters along with Herron or even a dark horse like Cory Greenwood.

Maurice Leggett’s status clouds the cornerback spot the same way Sheffield’s does the linebackers.  If he has to sit a couple weeks (or go PUP) the team is obviously not going to only carry Flowers, Carr and Arenas as their true corners.  Washington was drafted as a corner, but he’s on the roster bubble himself so you know that he isn’t going to provide the sort of depth Romeo Crennel is looking for meaning that a veteran like Travis Daniels is the perfect answer.

We are literally hours away from knowing just which players will make the cut here in Kansas City, but remember that the Chiefs will have their eyes on the waiver wire to see who gets let go around the league.  Making the team this weekend doesn’t necessarily mean you will still be around next Monday when the Chargers come to town.

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