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″?
Running Back (4)
Wide Receiver (6)
Tight End (3)
Offensive Line (9)
Defensive Line (7)
Last Five In
First Five Out
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.