Breaking down the Kansas City Chiefs training camp roster

07/12/2014 6:40 PM

07/14/2014 11:23 AM

The Chiefs will take 90 players to training camp, which starts July 20 when rookies and quarterbacks report to Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph, and really gets going with the first full-squad workout July 24. But the roster will shrink to 53 before the season opener Sept. 7 against the Titans at Arrowhead Stadium. Here’s a breakdown of the camp roster by position group:

*denotes projected starter

Quarterbacks (4)

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

College

7

Aaron Murray

6-1

210

Georgia

9

Tyler Bray

6-6

215

Tennessee

10

Chase Daniel

6-0

225

Missouri

11

Alex Smith*

6-4

217

Utah

Smith lived up to his reputation as a game manager early last season, when he was conservative with the football during the Chiefs’ 9-0 start. But he started to show serious improvement in the second half of the season, when he trusted his receivers a bit more and started to air it out while still protecting the ball. That’s the Smith the Chiefs need, and it carried over to offseason workouts this year. Daniel fared OK in the San Diego game last season, his first regular-season action, but will have to hold off Bray for the backup spot. Murray could enter the fray as well, but he might be best served by sitting and watching as a rookie, as Bray did a year ago.

Running backs (9)

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

College

1

De’Anthony Thomas

5-9

174

Oregon

25

Jamaal Charles*

5-11

199

Texas

30

Joe McKnight

5-11

205

Southern California

32

Cyrus Gray

5-10

206

Texas A&M

34

Knile Davis

5-10

227

Arkansas

35

Charcandrick West

5-10

205

Abilene Christian

38

Jordan Campbell

5-11

240

N.M. Highlands

40

James Baker

6-2

228

Idaho

42

Anthony Sherman*

5-10

242

Connecticut

Charles, 27, is an elite player in his prime who also happens to be coming off a career year. But he needs a break every now and then, so the Chiefs will be expecting more from Davis, a 2013 third-round pick who flashed some big-play ability as a rookie. Gray was the No. 3 back last year, but he’ll have to hold off a versatile speedster in McKnight to make the team. Thomas, a fourth-round pick this year, is slight for the position but offers game-breaking speed and will also play in the slot. Sherman emerged as one of the league’s best fullbacks last season and is just entering his prime.

Wide receivers (13)

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

College

4

Deon Anthony

6-0

210

Troy

8

Albert Wilson

5-9

200

Georgia State

13

Weston Dressler

5-8

179

North Dakota

14

Darryl Surgent

6-0

185

Louisiana-Lafayette

15

A.J. Jenkins

6-0

200

Illinois

17

Donnie Avery*

5-11

200

Houston

19

Kyle Williams

5-10

186

Arizona State

22

Mark Harrison

6-3

235

Rutgers

82

Dwayne Bowe*

6-2

221

LSU

83

Fred Williams

6-0

190

St. Cloud State

85

Frankie Hammond

6-1

185

Florida

88

Junior Hemingway

6-1

225

Michigan

89

Jerrell Jackson

6-0

192

Missouri

The Chiefs had one of the least-productive wide receiver corps in football last season, and while some of that had to do with the all-around brilliance of Charles, the receivers themselves had a lot to do with it. The Chiefs also lost slot receiver and special-teams demon Dexter McCluster to free agency in March. The good news is that Bowe looked great during offseason workouts, and many youngsters (Hemingway, Jenkins and Hammond) entering their second year in Reid’s complicated system offer some upside while Dressler, a CFL transport, looked very comfortable in the slot.

Tight ends (5)

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

College

47

Demetrius Harris

6-7

230

Wis.-Milwaukee

80

Anthony Fasano*

6-4

255

Notre Dame

81

Richard Gordon

6-4

268

Miami, Fla.

84

Sean McGrath

6-5

247

Henderson State

87

Travis Kelce

6-6

260

Cincinnati

Fasano was brought in as a free agent last season for his experience, and he proved to be reliable when he wasn’t battling injuries. He finally looked healthy this spring, but if the potentially explosive Kelce — who had his rookie season wiped out because of injuries — is ready to go, he will see lots of playing time in a pass-catching role. He sat out most of offseason training as he recovered from microfracture surgery in his knee. McGrath is a steady-but-unspectacular target, but if everyone stays healthy, he might have to hold off the gifted-but-raw Harris for playing time.

Offensive linemen (15)

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

College

61

Rodney Hudson*

6-2

299

Florida State

62

Ben Gottschalk

6-5

293

SMU

64

Eric Kush

6-4

313

California, Pa.

65

Ricky Henry

6-4

310

Nebraska

66

Ryan McKee

6-6

308

Southern Mississippi

67

Otis Hudson

6-5

330

Eastern Illinois

68

J’Marcus Webb

6-7

333

West Texas A&M

69

Rokevious Watkins

6-3

338

South Carolina

71

Jeff Allen*

6-4

307

Illinois

72

Eric Fisher*

6-8

305

Central Michigan

73

Zach Fulton

6-5

323

Tennessee

74

Jeffrey Linkenbach

6-6

325

Cincinnati

75

Rishaw Johnson*

6-3

313

California, Pa.

76

Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

6-5

315

McGill

79

Donald Stephenson*

6-6

312

Oklahoma

This group is largely unproven, as two starters (Branden Albert and Jon Asamoah) and one backup-turned-starter (Geoff Schwartz) departed via free agency. The good news is that four of the five players who are projected to start — Fisher, Allen, Hudson and Stephenson — are young players with good pedigrees. All four were taken in the third round or higher over the last four years. If any of the youngsters falter, Linkenbach and Webb provide versatility and insurance. Keep an eye on right guard, where Fulton — a sixth-rounder this year—ate into Johnson’s first-team reps in offseason workouts.

Defensive linemen (10)

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

College

70

Mike DeVito*

6-3

305

Maine

75

Dominique Hamilton

6-5

315

Missouri

77

Mike Catapano

6-4

270

Princeton

92

Dontari Poe*

6-3

346

Memphis

93

Kona Schwenke

6-4

297

Notre Dame

94

Kyle Love

6-1

315

Mississippi State

96

Jaye Howard

6-3

301

Florida

97

Allen Bailey*

6-3

288

Miami, Fla.

98

Jermelle Cudjo

6-2

304

Central Oklahoma

99

Vance Walker

6-2

305

Georgia Tech

In Poe, the Chiefs have one of the best nose guards in football and a reliable anchor for their 3-4 defense. DeVito lived up to his reputation as a solid run-stopping defensive end last season, but could be taken out of the game by teams that threw a lot. The Chiefs made an effort to improve their pass rush by letting Tyson Jackson, another run-stopping end, walk in free agency and signing the versatile Walker, who can back up the overworked Poe when necessary and compete with intriguing returnees Bailey and Catapano for the other starting end spot.

Linebackers (13)

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

College

45

Alonzo Highsmith

6-0

240

Arkansas

50

Justin Houston*

6-3

258

Georgia

51

Frank Zombo

6-3

254

Central Michigan

52

James-Michael Johnson

6-1

240

Nevada

53

Joe Mays*

5-11

244

North Dakota State

54

Dezman Moses

6-2

249

Tulane

55

Dee Ford

6-2

243

Auburn

56

Derrick Johnson*

6-3

242

Texas

57

Nico Johnson

6-2

249

Alabama

59

Ben Johnson

6-1

234

Tennessee-Martin

66

DeRon Furr

6-3

232

Fort Valley State

91

Tamba Hali*

6-3

275

Penn State

95

Josh Martin

6-3

245

Columbia

This is clearly the strength of the defense, as Derrick Johnson, Hali and Houston are all coming off Pro Bowl seasons. Akeem Jordan, who was solid as the starter inside next to Johnson last season, left via free agency and it appears Mays — who was signed as a free agent — has the inside track at replacing him. Ford, a first-round pick, at the very least figures to be an intriguing rotational player this season, thanks to his pass-rush ability.

Defensive backs (17)

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

College

20

Chris Owens

5-9

180

San Jose State

21

Sean Smith*

6-3

218

Utah

22

Kevin Rutland

6-0

193

Missouri

23

Phillip Gaines

6-1

185

Rice

24

Brandon Jones

6-1

187

Rutgers

26

Sanders Commings

6-0

223

Georgia

27

David Van Dyke

6-0

185

Tennessee State

29

Eric Berry*

6-0

211

Tennessee

30

Vernon Kearney

6-2

185

Lane

31

Marcus Cooper*

6-2

192

Rutgers

34

Jerron McMillian

5-11

203

Maine

38

Ron Parker

6-0

206

Newberry

39

Husain Abdullah*

6-0

204

Washington State

40

DeMarcus Van Dyke

6-1

187

Miami

41

Malcolm Bronson

5-11

192

McNeese State

44

Justin Rogers

5-11

181

Richmond

49

Daniel Sorensen

6-2

208

Brigham Young

Berry, a three-time Pro Bowler, leads a secondary that will be tested early and often. Abdullah and Commings are battling for the starting free safety job, but both flashed big-play ability in offseason workouts and could earn time in the Chiefs’ nickel and dime subpackages. The big question is at corner, which is fairly unsettled following the release of veteran Brandon Flowers and Sean Smith’s arrest for allegedly driving under the influence in June. Owens could see some time as the nickel, but on the outside, youngsters Marcus Cooper, Ron Parker and Phillip Gaines — while talented — are unproven.

Specialists (4)

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

College

2

Dustin Colquitt*

6-3

210

Tennessee

5

Cairo Santos

5-8

160

Tulane

6

Ryan Succop*

6-2

218

South Carolina

43

Thomas Gafford*

6-2

250

Houston

Colquitt and Succop have been the Chiefs’ starting punter and kicker, respectively, for the last five seasons, and there’s a good chance they’ll again be the duo come the season opener. But keep an eye on Santos, the rookie from Tulane who made 78 percent of his field goals as a four-year starter and impressed coaches with his strong leg in offseason training. He will have to win the job outright, however, to replace the fairly-reliable Succop.

To reach Terez A. Paylor, call 816-234-4489 or send email to tpaylor@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter: @TerezPaylor.

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