With free agency and the draft behind us, we can finally start to look forward to the 2021 NFL season! As training camp approaches, fans are starting to get a glimpse at what their favorite teams might look like this season. There are always surprise roster moves but we’re now at the point where we start to shape a Kansas City Chiefs roster. I looked at the previous years to see how Andy Reid and Brett Veach like to construct a team and used my best judgment on the rest. Without holding you up any further, enjoy my 2021 Chiefs roster projections!
Kansas City Chiefs Roster Projections: Offense
Chad Henne faces some competition with Anthony Gordon and 2021 undrafted free agent Shane Buechele. Gordon and Buechele will provide some extra camp arms but barring anything major, Henne will keep his role as Mahomes’ backup.
Edwards-Helaire will retain his starting role while Darrel Williams backs him up. McKinnon, Thompson, Elijah McGuire, and Derrick Gore will compete for the third and fourth spots. Thompson is entering the third year on his rookie contract and should be safe. McKinnon is a free agent signing and based on his NFL history he should have a strong shot to make the team. Michael Burton will compete with linebacker turned fullback undrafted free agent Riley Cole for the fullback spot. Burton will be the favorite to win the job.
Hill, Hardman, and rookie Powell are all locks to make the roster. Robinson and Pringle will be fighting for the depth position but should be safe to make the roster. The sixth slot is where the intrigue starts for the team. Kemp has made the roster the last two years thanks to his special team ability. He will face tough competition from Jody Fortson and Antonio Callaway in camp this year. As of now, Kemp seems to be the favorite. Wide receiver is a tough roster projection due to that sixth slot.
The team drafted Noah Gray to give themselves a pass-catching tight end behind Kelce. Blake Bell will keep his job and provide the team with a blocking tight end. This roster projection leaves the Chiefs with one less tight end compared to last season but the team will likely have to shed one player from the group.
The Chiefs have completely re-made their offensive line. They traded for Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Brown, signed premier free agent Joe Thuney, drafted a high-end center prospect in Creed Humphrey, and will be getting back Duvernay-Tardif and Lucas Niang from their opt-out year. The team also brought in Kyle Long and Austin Blythe who will be legitimate contenders for a starting job.
Trey Smith was one of the top guards in the draft and the Chiefs were able to get him in the 6th round. Remmers, Rankin, and Allegretti will provide solid depth for the unit. Yasir Durant, Darryl Williams, and Andrew Wylie all feel like they are on the outside looking in but they will be solid competition and could find themselves making the team. This was another tough roster projection for the Chiefs considering how many bodies they have at the position.
Kansas City Chiefs Roster Projections: Defense
Chris Jones could slide out to the defensive end spot to allow the team to put the four best linemen on the field but for now, he’ll remain at defensive tackle. Reed will likely be one of the two starters at defensive tackle. Nnadi, Wharton, and Saunders are all still young players on their rookie contracts and will provide valuable rotational players. Not knowing where Jones will play made this one of the toughest decisions on the Chiefs roster projections.
Frank Clark will start at one end spot while either Charlton (possibly Jones) starts on the other side. Last year’s draft pick Danna and this year’s draft pick Kaindoh will provide depth. Ward was an undrafted free agent in 2019 but should be safe to make the team once again.
Hitchens and Gay will be two of the three starters among the linebackers. Niemann was re-signed in the off-season and could remain the third starter but will face stiff competition from rookie Nick Bolton. O’Daniel will likely remain with the team in a backup role.
Sneed is one of the NFL’s best-kept secrets. Ward and Fenton will keep their jobs. Keyes will be entering his second year and provides special team value so he will likely make the team. The fifth spot is tougher to predict. DeAndre Baker could win it but the team just traded for Mike Hughes. They envision Hughes making the team after trading for him so for now, he is in the fifth slot. The recent trade for Hughes makes the cornerback spot a tough roster projection.
Mathieu is the undisputed leader of the group. Thornhill had a promising rookie campaign in 2019 but tore his ACL at the end of the season. He never looked fully recovered in 2020 but 2021 will provide him the chance to regain his rookie form. Sorenson will remain the incumbent depth piece. Armani Watts is entering the final year of his rookie contract and will make the team. The top four are exactly the same as last year so their roster projection seems solid. Will Parks, whom the team traded for this year, will be the one difference from the 2020 group.
Kansas City Chiefs Roster Projections: Special Teams
Kicker(1): Harrison Butker
Harrison Butker has turned into one of the NFL’s most reliable kickers. Outside of quarterback, this is the easiest roster projection.
Punter(1): Tommy Townsend
Townsend is entering his second year with the team and likely wont face any competition for the job.
Long Snapper(1): James Winchester
Winchester will be entering his seventh year with the team and won’t face any competition for the long snapper job.
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