How many spots are in the air for the 2022 Kansas City Chiefs
Jake White @jakewhite58
With the Organized Team Activities (OTAs) wrapping up, the 2022 Training Camp is coming up. The Kansas City Chiefs have the luxury of keeping most of their roster stable, with a few exceptions, and a few big departures. Even with those big departures the holes left behind have been addressed. That doesn’t mean the roster is already set in stone and there is no room for competition. The Chiefs have a few roster spots up for grabs.
Wide Receiver 1: The obvious battle is who will replace Tyreek Hill as WR1. But as talked about before and addressed, the Chiefs will take more of a “by committee” approach to the WR room this year. But for the sake of this article and the depth chart, I will say Juju Smith Schuster will probably carry around the WR1 label followed by Mecole Hardman and Marquez Valdes-Scantling.
Tight End 2: Travis Kelce is the best TE in the league right now and has shown that for years. Behind him is a heap of potential and talent. While Blake Bell will hold the designation, the heir apparent will most likely be Jody Fortson. While Noah Gray is coming off his rookie campaign and continues to learn the system, he has the opportunity to learn from the best and hone his craft. But Jody was on fire before getting hurt last season, and look to Partick Mahomes to get Jody back in the groove this season.
Right Tackle 1: Penciled in at Right Tackle right now is Andrew Wylie. He performed admirably last season but is not the long-term answer for the position. The Chiefs had hoped Lucas Niang was that answer but struggled before tearing his pectoral muscle last season and may not be ready for the start of this season. But the battle I foresee is with Wylie and rookie Darrian Kinnard. Kinnard was rated as high as the first round by some analysts and slid to the 5th round to the Chiefs. He can be a Trey Smith type talent and become that cornerstone that Mitchell Swartz was for years.
Middle Linebacker: With Nick Bolton and Willie Gay Jr. being the young core and possibly manning the weak side and strong-side linebacker spots, the middle is open for some new talent on the Chiefs. In free agency, the Chiefs signed Jermaine Carter Jr. and in the draft, they selected Wisconsin LB Leo Chenal who has become a fan favorite for his violent nature on the field. Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has a reputation of not putting rookies on the field too early unless they show substantial talent over their counterparts. I would hazard a guess that the season begins with Carter Jr. as the starter with Chenal getting more playing time as the season wears on. I don’t think Chenal will start unless Carter loses the job himself.
Cornerback 2: Charvarius Ward is gone and L’Jarius Sneed is now CB1. Behind him is a battle between first-round draft pick Trent McDuffie and Rashad Fenton. As said before, Spags is not known to start rookies unless they are far and away better than those competing for the position. In the Chiefs defense, Spags has his corners play various coverages but relies on man-coverage mostly. With McDuffie’s size and limited playbook knowledge, I think he will still be able to take on the role of a starting corner but can cover the slot when needed. Similar to Chenal, I think McDuffie will be used in Nickel and Dime packages to start the season and eventually replace Fenton as the starter.
Wide Receiver 4: I was going to avoid this one, but I think the WR room going into training camp is the one I am most excited about. We talked about WR1 and those guys, Juju, Mecole, and MVS, are all going to be on the roster making plays. But beyond them, the depth chart is a little crowded and exciting. The Chiefs will want to use second-round draft pick, Skyy Moore, as often as possible to further evaluate and see how high the depth chart can go. Is he a Tyreek or even a Mecole replacement type player? The Chiefs also have Josh Gordon, the highly touted free agent midway through last season. He hardly played and when he did he made little difference, but a year in the Reid system and Patrick Mahomes throwing you the ball can make a difference. Not to leave off the wildcard in all this Justyn Ross, the unsigned free agent, who was slated to be a first-round selection but fell due to injury. So far he has been praised by the staff and Mahomes. If he can be a fraction of the talent he was at Clemson then we found a diamond in the rough. This whole list is leaving off last year’s fifth-round pick Cornell Powell and last year’s preseason highlight reel, Daurice Fountain. The WR room is stacked with potential and the Chiefs may finally have more depth than they ever dreamed of.
The upcoming training camp will be a good one. The Chiefs are coming off a disappointing season, by our standards, and can look to ramp up the urgency and need to get back to the Super Bowl.