Kansas City Chiefs' 53-man roster projection: Fifth-round pick in jeopardy

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs open the 2021 NFL regular season against the Cleveland Browns on Sept. 12 at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs finished 14-2 last season, winning the AFC West before losing Super Bowl LV against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The Chiefs face their most interesting roster decisions on the offensive and defensive lines. They added eight strong roster candidates who weren't with the team last year on the offensive line and have enough depth on the defensive line that they already cut one of last season's top pass-rushers, Taco Charlton.

The roster will be cut to 53 players by 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday.

Here is a projection:

QUARTERBACK (2): Patrick Mahomes, Chad Henne

This spot is clear cut and has been for some time. The only thing that was going to change this depth chart was an injury. The Chiefs have kept two quarterbacks for some time and that plan has worked out for them. I expect rookie Shane Buechele to make the practice squad.

RUNNING BACK (4): Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Darrel Williams, Jerick McKinnon, Michael Burton

The Chiefs have had to dig deep into their running back depth chart many times in recent seasons because of injuries, so keeping just three featured backs (Burton is a fullback and special teams player) is a risk. For that reason, it wouldn't be surprising for Darwin Thompson to make the roster. But the need for that roster spot is greater at other positions, right now at least.