When training camp comes around, there are always a few players that sneak into the final 53-man roster. Last year, Tershawn Wharton, a UDFA from Missouri S&T, made the Chiefs’ roster. He made an impact in 48% of defensive snaps, totaling 27 total tackles, four tackles for a loss, four QB hits, two sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.
This season, it seems like there are a few surprise players that can make the roster with how they’re performing in camp and the preseason. Let’s break down and see four surprise players that can make the Chiefs’ roster!
Disclaimer: this list is not in any sort of order
Darrius Shepherd, WR/Returner
A Kansas City native, Darrius Shepherd is trying to make a spot on the final 53-man cut. He came into the league in 2019, signing with the Green Bay Packers. For the Packers, he was utilized as a kick returner, returning 20 kicks in 14 games over two seasons; he gained 374 yards and an 18.7 yard average per return.
Shepherd signed with the Chiefs in mid-June of 2021. While he has made some nice grabs in training camp, his returning prowess, while not outmatched by others, gives him a good shot to make the roster.
According to Chiefs’ Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub, Darrius has a chance to make the team strictly stemming from his returning upside. Nevertheless, we see him being utilized in the preseason. If he breaks a few long returns off, and quite possibly a TD, we could see him make the roster this year.
Jody Fortson, TE
Standing in at 6’6, 230 lbs, Jody Fortson is making waves to compete for a spot on the Chiefs’ active roster. While he has put on 20 pounds of muscle to plausibly shift towards being a TE, he has been making incredible plays so far in this camp.
Here is example A:
Here’s example B from reporter Herbie Teope while watching Fortson make a spectacular catch:
There are plenty more examples out there in the world of Twitter and social media. Fortson has continued to improve each time he has been in camp since he first came into the league in 2019. He has continued to gain a motherlode of reps with rookie TE Noah Gray this camp, which shows that the Chiefs are trusting him more and more as camp goes along.
He will defiantly be receiving a good amount of reps in preseason games; furthermore, if he continues to make highlight catches and great plays, he’ll make the roster as a TE. He’d have to beat out Blake Bell and Nick Keizer; it’s a tall task, especially when going against an NFL vet, but it is manageable.
Devon Key, DB
Devon Key is an undrafted free agent DB coming out of Western Kentucky; he stands at 5’11, weighing in at 210 lbs. In his senior year, he had 88 total tackles (51 solo), three passes deflected, and an interception. He aided WKU to three bowl games (2017, 2019-2020), and he was a captain for two years. He placed third among solo tackles in the CUSA conference in 2020.
Key has been turning heads, especially with his RAS (Relative Athletic Score), which indicates how athletic a player is. Here is Key’s RAS as a free safety (his best RAS score):
Key has been balling in training camp. He has done so well to the point where he is playing with the first-team defense. Even Steve Spagnuolo and Andy Reid are giving Brett Veach props for finding a stud like him. You already know this is a very good sign for good things to come.
It will be exciting to see what he does come the preseason. A roster spot could be in his spot if he continues to play how he has been playing.
Marcus Kemp, WR
Do you want another playmaker added to the Chiefs roster? Then look no further than Marcus Kemp, who has been doing nothing but making plays since camp began. Let’s take a look at the play below:
Kemp shows great speed and downfield vision in this play, breaking inside and finding a hole in the secondary. He then can high point the ball with a great jump, clutches it like the universe is on the line, and bring it down for a great catch.
He made another play with the first-team offense on a slant route. Once he caught the ball, it was a home-run play as he showed a good burst towards the second level plus great speed, acceleration, and agility to sprint towards the endzone.
Here’s one more play, for added measure. He was able to get over the middle on Hughes, adjust his whole body, and pulled it in for an easy touchdown.
If he can keep playing like this in the preseason and throughout camp, this could easily be his year to break out with the final roster.
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