The Kansas City Chiefs have made a ton of roster moves this offseason. From the sudden and shocking releases of Mitchell Schwartz and Eric Fisher to the Joe Thuney and Kyle Long signings to the Orlando Brown trade, and the drafting of Creed Humphrey: and that was just the offensive line.
So I thought it was best for the sake of Chiefs fans to break down the Chiefs’ new roster and see how it stacks up against last year’s roster. The obvious positions, like the ones that did not change, will be up top, the big movers will be below.
Quarterback: A+ to A+
Patrick Mahomes is the most talented football player of all time. Next.
Kicker: A to A
Harrison Butker had a case of the yips last year. Here is to that not happening next season.
Punter: A+ to A+
Tommy “Tarzan” Townsend is so good, it is a shame he does not get to show that off often.
Safety: B+ to B+
Tyrann Mathieu will be getting an extension soon, now that the draft has passed, which will be a big deal to him. Juan Thornhill struggled in 2020, which can be attributed quite heavily to his ACL tear at the end of the 2019 season. In 2021, Thornhill has to have a pretty solid comeback or he is going to start drawing the ire of Chiefs’ Kingdom.
Tight End: B to A-
Travis Kelce is starting to knock on the door of the “Greatest Tight End of All Time Club” By himself, Kelce is an A++
However, the Chiefs have failed to find a competent TE2 for years now. Nick Keizer, Deon Yelder, and Blake Bell have all fallen short of expectations in both the passing and blocking game. Nick Keizer was public enemy number one for a few weeks in Chiefs’ Kingdom, and rightfully so.
However, in the draft, the Chiefs picked up a new young star at tight end. Noah Gray has a ton of likable attributes for a tight end and is in the best system in the league for tight end development. He has a ton of all-around potential, and I fully expect him to become the team’s new Richard Sherman. He may even be the heir apparent to Travis Kelce’s position in a few years.
Fullback: A to B
NFL fullbacks have not mattered in offenses in a long time. However, they were used quite prevalently in special teams across the league. They are big bodies with decent speeds and big muscles, making them the ideal kickoff safeties and great back-line kick return defenders. Anthony Sherman was almost exclusively a special teams player in 2020, meaning his retirement has the biggest impact on the special teams.
The Chiefs brought in Michael Burton to fill the hole, but it is not like it will make a huge difference. I did mention in the previous section that I think any roles or involvement this position had in the offense will now be Noah Gray’s.
Wide Receivers: A to A-
Losing Sammy Watkins is going to be bigger to this offense than many are predicting. I do not think that many people are going to notice the difference, thanks to the additions at offensive line (coming up), but the offense could be much better with an extremely smart receiver with a deep route tree.
Cornell Powell can pop off for the Chiefs, but he needs a bit of development before he has a chance of being elite. Meanwhile, Hardman has been developing backwards, and Demarcus Robinson’s feet still only go sideways. With all of the extra time in the pocket, Mahomes is going to make this group look unstoppable, but that does not mean they can not be better.
Running Back: B- to B+
This one is a little weird but follow with me. If Damien Williams had not opted out in 2020, this would be an A- falling to a B+. However, technically the last time Damien Williams was on the Chiefs’ roster was Super Bowl 54 (the game he deserved the MVP award for) so he does not play into this change.
Clyde Edwards-Helaire is going to have a huge season in 2021. He could not get a single bit better this offseason and be miles better this upcoming season thanks to the new offensive line. However, on third down, he still is going to need a ton of help, which is where the new addition in Jerrick Mckinnon comes in. I also think the Chiefs are going to be pursuing Kerryon Johnson once he claims labor, which would be a better third-down back and boost the 2021 score to an A.
Defensive End: C to C
The Chiefs drafted the man who is going to replace Frank Clark next season. However, that means one more season of a mediocre player making way too much money.
I really worry about the Chiefs’ defense in 2021, and that largely has to do with the Chiefs’ defensive line.
Defensive Tackle: B- to B
Jarran Reed is an interesting acquisition this offseason, and I do not think enough people are talking about it. He offers a ton of flexibility for Chris Jones on third and fourth down, which could be a big deal. However, this is all hypothetical, and I would need to see Spags do that before I give him a ton of credit.
Tackle: A+ to A+
The personnel changed completely, but the score stays the same.
Orlando Brown is a two-time pro-bowler, with nominations on both sides of the line. As a left tackle he has never given up a sack, and his run blocking scores are better even than Eric Fisher who he is replacing. The right side is a bit of a question mark, but mostly because it could be filled by either Mike Remmers (who has been on two Super Bowl teams, although he has fallen apart in those two games) or Lucas Niang.
Both sides are just as good now as they were this time last year, and what a great thing for Patrick Mahomes.
Center: B to A+
Austin Reiter was not a bad center, but he was not impressive. This is not a slight on him, it is beyond difficult to be a center in the NFL.
You know who is unbelievably talented and impressive? Creed Humphrey.
Three-time all Big-12, gave up zero sacks in college, run blocking god! Creed Humphrey is going to be an elite lineman in the NFL and is going to protect Mahomes with everything he has.
Guard: B- to A+
This is not a slight on Andrew Wylie and Nick Allegretti, but Joe Thuney/Kyle Long/Trey Smith/LDT is going to dominate anyone who even considers coming close to Mahomes. This is the deepest guard pool in the NFL, which means each player can get rest if necessary. It also means that a single injury will not result in the destruction of Patrick Mahomes like we saw in Super Bowl 55.
The Chiefs will have the best offensive line in 2021, full stop.
Linebacker: F to C-
In a week, the Chiefs might have finally created a non-garbage linebacker group. First, they added Nick Bolton in the draft, who could come in and be the run-stopping machine Ben Niemann never could be. Meanwhile, Kamalei Correa gets brought in to guarantee that Ben Niemann’s spot on the roster is completely eliminated, as he represents a great third-down blitzing linebacker. It is rare that you get the humorously phrased “addition by subtraction” but the Chiefs nail that right on the head when they inevitably cut Ben Niemann after training camp.
This linebacking group could be fantastic, especially if Willie Gay gets significant snaps, but they have to prove that before you give them too much credit.
Defensive Back: C- to D
Time to get negative.
This year’s draft had a very shallow cornerback draft pool, and that is largely why cornerback remains the largest team need on the Chiefs’ roster. Bashaud Breeland seems to be gone, but L’Jarius Sneed now has an open spot to bump out of the linebacker box. The Chiefs also brought in Will Parks to offer a veteran hand.
However, without Bashaud Breeland, and with Ward currently still unsigned on his tender, the Chiefs have a serious hole at defensive back. They really need Richard Sherman, because, without him, this may be the only way to beat the Chiefs.