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July 24, 2008

Roster Guesses « Kansas City Chiefs »

Offense (25) The offense is mostly set, with the only starting battles at RG, RT, and #2 WR. The rest is a battle of backups.

QB (3): Brodie Croyle, Tyler Thigpen, Damon Huard

Bubble/Practice Squad: None

Rationale: Croyle is the man. Thigpen needs whatever snaps remain to be a credible replacement for Croyle. Huard doesnt need anything, and likely showed some age-related decline and fragility last year. Hes an emergency QB now. Greene was cut before camp even started, leaving no one to challenge the QBs on the roster. The only uncertainty is who will be the actual game-day backup to Croyle.

RB (3): Larry Johnson, Jamaal Charles, Kirby Smith

Bubble/Practice Squad: none/Savage

Rationale: While Savage and Battle are decent enough to make most NFL teams, the Chiefs are just too deep for these guys to make the team. If one makes the practice squad, it would probably be savage, just because his NFL potential is still not determined, and thus theoretically unlimited.

FB: Oliver Hoyte

Bubble/Practice Squad: Mike Cox/Mike Cox

Rationale: Despite being a converted LB, Hoyte actually has NFL playing time as FB. Despite his experience in Chan Gaileys system, Cox does not. This is a pretty close battle, however, and could go either way. I do think if Cox doesnt make the final roster, he goes to the practice squad; whereas if Cox makes the team, Hoyte is completely gone. I dont think anyone else (Jackson, Manderino) really has much chance.

TE (3): Tony Gonzalez, Brad Cottam, Michael Allan

Bubble/Practice Squad: none/Michael Merritt (injured)

Rationale: While Cottams size and corresponding strength/leverage should help him be an outstanding blocker, I think he was drafted to replace and back up Gonzalez presence in the passing game. Gailey isnt known for using tight ends, but he is known for strong running attacks combined with innovative passing; TonyG is a key to both of those, and Gailey is the guy to take advantage of his abilities. But Gonzalez is aging, and you dont want to have the offense crippled if he goes down for a week or two. Hence, the drafting and development of both Cottam and Allan. Allan is a good receiver with the size to be a good blocker. Cottam is naturally a gifted blocker with the hands and speed to be a game-changing receiver. The handwriting is on the wall, and it tells me Gailey is embracing the TE position as a flexible blocker/receiver. Foschi isnt skilled enough to be a threat in both roles. Neither is Merritt, and with his injury keeping him off the field, theres no one to challenge these three.

WR (5): Dwayne Bowe, Jeff Webb, David Darling, Will Franklin, Kevin Robinson (I predict will double as P/KR)

Bubble/Practice Squad: Bobby Sippio/Maurice Price

Rationale: Bowe has a slot sewn up. Webb showed improvement last year. He ended the year starting two games, and caught 7 passes for 68 yards in those two games, which shows he was starting to build some rapport with Croyle. Darling has similar career stats and perhaps more upside, but Webb has shown flashes of starting potential (he went 7 for 78 against the Bengals with Huard behind Center), whereas Darling really hasnt. Webb did have some lapses last year (a damaging drop or two in critical spots, and a very significant failure to get his second foot in bounds against Green Bay), but his experiences as a key backup and starter last year, and Croyles familiarity with Webb will probably give him the edge over Darling. Franklin and Robinson both have the potential to surprise and leapfrog both Webb and Darling. The days of the Sippio experiment are probably at an end. Maurice Price also gets lost in a numbers game, and the other unknowns (to include the two last-second signings) are probably camp fodder with zero chance.

OT (4): Branden Albert, Damion McIntosh, Herb Taylor, Barry Richardson

Bubble/Practice Squad: Anthony Alabi/Shackleford

Rationale: The top three are pretty much locks to make the team. Richardson could play his way off the team, making room for Alabi by default. Svitek hasnt shown enough and has been too injured to make anyone think he deserves a roster spot. There isnt anyone else with enough intriguing upside to make the team. Yeah, Im talking about you, Leffew and Shackleford.

G (3): Brian Waters, Adrian Jones, Rob Smith

Bubble/Practice Squad: No one, unless a T shifts inside to G

Rationale: Waters is a lock, Jones gets RG almost by default, and Smith makes the team because theres no one else on the roster who looks good enough to push Smith off the team. Has anyone heard anything at all about Edwin Harrison? Me neither. If I were coach, Id consider going with only 2 Gs and taking an extra T. Maybe the Will Svitek experiment could try him inside at G?

C (2): Rudy Niswanger, Wade Smith

Bubble/Practice Squad: none/none

Rationale: There is literally no one on the roster after these two. Smith makes the team, not only because you dont want to depend on a player who has never played C in the NFL and ended the last season with a knee injury, but also because Smith can play any position along the line at a mediocre level. In fact, Smith could end up being the backup at both G spots.

K: Conner Barth

Bubble/Practice Squad: Nick Novak/none

Rationale: Barth showed mental toughness coming back from a horrible sophomore year slump. Novaks history of bouncing around the league doesnt hurt him, but I think Barth has the edge by dint of being new, on top of his mental toughness. No one makes the practice squad because no one carries a kicker on the practice squad.

KR: (Kevin Robinson and/or Jamaal Charles)

PR: (Kevin Robinson)

Bubble/Practice Squad: BJ Sams/none

Rationale: I think Robinson will make the team as the primary K/PR because P/KR seems to be a young mans game: most returners lose effectiveness later in their career, and Sams is coming off multiple injuries. Moreover, Robinson is the NCAAs career all-purpose yardage leader, contributing almost as much at WR as at KR for Utah State, meaning that Robinson has much more upside as a full-time player than Sams. But if Sams fully recovers from injuries and hasnt succumbed to age, he could steal the spot. No practice squad for this position; Robinson makes the team or is snatched by another team. But we have enough potential returners who can contribute at other spots; theres no reason to have a dedicated returner this year.

Defense (26)

CB (5): Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr, Patrick Surtain, Rashad Barksdale, Tyron Brackenridge

Bubble/Practice Squad: Maurice Leggett/Maurice Leggett

Rationale: Yeah, I think we may end up starting two rookie CBs, with Surtain the first guy off the bench. Rashad Barksdale makes the team because hes unually big for his speed (or unusually fast for his size) but inexperienced, meaning he still has huge upside. Dmitri Patterson was decent last year, but has two many years in the league to really have much chance of showing anything, so wont make the team. Brackenridge played very well at times last year, and still has the chance for significant improvement that Patterson doesnt. Will Poole is just like Patterson, only older: cut. Maurice Leggett has impressed the coaches and may take Brackenridges spot.

S (4): Jarrad Page, DuJuan Morgan, Bernard Pollard, John McGraw

Bubble/Practice Squad: Khayyam Burns

Rationale: Page, Morgan, and Pollard are locks to make the team. The only uncertainty is if Morgan replaces Pollard, and I think he will by game 4, if not by the end of camp. McGraw makes the team due to canny experience and special teams play. But the #4 spot is wide open: Ive heard a few hints about Burns being a potential surprise, and Ron Girault is a blank slate who could be a sleeper or merely camp fodder.

LB (7): Derrick Johnson, Donnie Edwards, Demorrio Williams, Napoleon Harris, Nate Harris, Pat Thomas, Steve Octavien

Bubble/Practice Squad: Weston Dacus, LeRue Rumph

Rationale: This is the most intriguing competition of the whole team. Johnson and Edwards are locks to be startersbut what position? Conventional wisdom says DJ would play better as the Weakside LB, but conventional wisdom also says DJ gets the Strongside position because theres no one else. Napoleon Harris is the MLB incumbent, but despite good stats, missed some easy tackles and misread too many plays. Edwards could end up moving to MLB with Williams taking over at WLB. Then again, Edwards may be too old to be a full-time, 16-game starter. Nate Harris filled in for Nap Harris last year; he clearly looked lost before the snap, but performed decently while the ball was in play. Then again, Pat Thomas (a final cut-down steal by Herm Edwards last year) is reportedly looking good and may leapfrog both Harrises for the starting MLB spot. But Nate Harris was considered to have considerable upside before last years draft by being a top player banished to a small college due to circumstance; it would not be a shock if he made the leap of ability to become a starter by the end of camp this year. And yet, Octavien, Rumph, and Dacus also have that same sort of reputation this year as Nate Harris did last year, and Harris could get caught up in a numbers game where a one year of experience was only enough to show the coaches they dont really want to put in the effort on you anymore. But the reality is also that Kris Griffin, Rich Scanlon, and Nick Reid also had this same sort of buzz around them that all these young guys now have, and look how they turned out. Or didnt, actually. E.J. Kuale is probably camp fodder because hes been in the leauge too long to suddenly elevate his play to challenge for a roster spot. I give the edge to Octavien because he had better numbers in college than anyone else despite playing through lots of injuries. Assuming he has fully recovered and will no longer be injury-prone, he has the biggest upside of any of our prospects. Dacus has better total numbers due to more games starting, but was more of a steady college producer, rather than a potential NFL game-changer. Im ready to be surprised by who stands up and stands out.

DE (4): Tamba Hali, Turk McBride, Brian Johnston, Alfonso Boone

Bubble/Practice Squad: Johnny Dingle

Rationale: Ive heard little about Dingle lately, but even less about Trevor Johnson or Jason Parker. Hali, McBride, and even Johnston are locks because there just really isnt anyone else. Unlike many other people, I figure the switch to DE for Boone is a done deal. Hes reportedly lost weight to make the switch, and that shows commitment; aside from that, there really isnt anyone else. Boone wore down last year at DT and wasnt really effective the last half of the season. That indicates he might have been playing above his ideal weight. Losing weight can make a decent DT turn into a speedy enough DE, but well see. Our future lies in how well Hali transitions to the RE, how well McBride steps up as a (near) full-time DE, and how Johnston develops at LE. That leaves Boone to either be a pleasant surprise or wrap up his NFL career; either way, we shouldnt depend on him.

DT (4): Glenn Dorsey, Tank Tyler, Ron Edwards, T. J. Jackson

Bubble/Practice Squad: Derek Lokey, Maurice Murray

Rationale: If there is a reason to let Dingle be the #4 DE and have Boone move back inside, it is because of the lack of prospects at DT. Edwards is young enough to still produce, but his abilities are established at mediocre. Ive heard some good things about Jackson, but not much. I havent heard a thing about Lokey or Murray. Thus, Ive got Jackson at the #4 spot by default, but that could easily change.

P: Dustin Colquitt

Bubble/Practice Squad: None

Rationale: There is only one punter. Nuff said.

LS: Jean-Philippe Darche

Bubble/Practice Squad: None

Rationale: Darche is almost as much of a fixture as Colquitt.

If you do the math, thats just 51 players. Theres a method to my madness. First, the positions where the competition is the deepest are the areas we are already dedicating most of the roster spots and cant carry the bubble players: WR, LB, RB, CB. Second, the areas where we could use an extra player are really the least deep in terms of talent: DE, DT, G, FB. Finally, 2 players who are challenging for a significant contributing role this year did not enter camp for us last year, but were other teams draft picks snatched from the waiver wire as they tried to sneak the players on to their practice squad: Thigpen and Barksdale. That was a pretty clever move that I expect Herm to attempt again this year (we actually did that with 3 players, but only 2 stuck). Anticipating that move, I will leave two spots open.

Posted by Nathan at 04:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
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