The Chiefs may add a free agent or two between now and the start of training camp this summer, but for the most part the roster they have now will be the one they’ll take to Missouri Western State University when they begin preparations for the 2016 season.
Here’s how the roster looks on defense and in the kicking game. We looked at the offense in a previous post.
Linemen (10): Allen Bailey, Dontari Poe, Jaye Howard, Niko Davis, Chris Jones, David King, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Jimmy Staten, Alameda Ta'amu, Nick Williams. The Chiefs have a nice blend here with veteran starters (Bailey, Poe, Howard), a promising draft pick (Jones) and a developmental prospect with potential (Williams). One of the interesting developments here will be how much Jones plays and how he’s utilized. The Chiefs have enough capable players that they don’t have to rush him into the lineup.
Linebackers (15): Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Derrick Johnson, Josh Mauga, Tyrell Adams, D.J. Alexander, Dee Ford, Justin March, Jonathan Massaquoi, Andy Mulumba, Dadi Lhomme Nicolas, Efe Obada, Terrance Smith, Ramik Wilson, Frank Zombo. There are plenty of issues for the Chiefs to resolve here, the biggest being Houston and when he can return to the lineup after having ACL surgery in February. Among the others: Do the aging Johnson and Hali each have one more big season left? Is Ford ready to become a consistent presence? Do the Chiefs have enough depth at all positions if Houston doesn’t make it back until late in the season or they have injuries to other key players? If a majority of these questions don’t get answered in the Chiefs’ favor, prepare for the defense to take a step back.
Cornerbacks (13): Phillip Gaines, Marcus Peters, Deveron Carr, Marcus Cooper, Shannon Edwards, Vernon Harris, Tre Jones, Keith Lewis, Eric Murray, Steven Nelson, Shak Randolph, KeiVarae Russell, D.J. White. Peters, who was spectacular as a rookie last season, is the only established player of the group. Gaines was on his way there last year before tearing his ACL early in the season. The Chiefs believe he will be at full strength or close to it by the start of training camp. Still, there’s playing time to be had here with Nelson, a third-round pick last year, as well as this year’s three draft picks (Russell, Murray, White) sure to get a long look. The Chiefs have a bunch here but that’s what happens when they draft three corners and sign four other rookie free agents after the draft. Some of these players could get moved to safety with the 6-foot-3, 213-pound Randolph being a prime candidate. He was a safety at the recent rookie minicamp but the Chiefs have him listed as a cornerback.
Safety (5): Eric Berry, Ron Parker, Stevie Brown, Jamell Fleming, Daniel Sorensen. Berry remains unsigned as the franchise player. The Chiefs have until July 15 to sign him to a long-term contract. Otherwise, he would play on a one-year contract if he plays at all. Parker is a useful player with coverage skills. He played a lot at nickelback last year, despite starting most of the time at safety.