Chiefs still have room for roster addition

Posted May 2, 2012

Looking at Kansas City’s remaining roster needs

With training camp rosters expanding to 90 players again this season, there is still room for the Chiefs roster to improve.

Kansas City never reached its full 90-man allotment last season with the rush getting veterans under contract following the NFL lockout. The Chiefs training camp roster was in the upper 80s last year mainly because just 10 rookie free agents signed out of the gate.

The team signed 15 undrafted rookie free agents this week, pushing the current roster count to 82 players. That leaves the Chiefs room to sign an additional eight players before reaching their roster limit.

“By the end of this week we won’t necessarily be at 90,” GM Scott Pioli explained. “We’re going to leave some spots open because there are some veteran free agents out there already and as the draft is going on, I don’t know what the rumor mill has heard or hasn’t heard, but there are a number of veteran players that are about to become free agents in the next couple days here.

“We don’t have to be at 90. It’s nice to have that cushion, so we’ll eventually get there by training camp I would assume.”

Extra roster space will allow the team to address several remaining positions of need during the final wave of veteran free agency. The Chiefs may also choose to sign additional rookie free agents following tryouts during next weekend’s rookie mini-camp.

LB Cory Greenwood, who has played in 32 consecutive games for the Chiefs, wasn’t signed as a rookie free agent until almost an entire month following the 2010 draft.

“You go through all of this; your team changes,” Pioli said of the draft and post-draft process. “You have a group of guys that you really care about, you love and you finish the season and for a lot of different reasons there is change, but now you have the core of the 2012 Kansas City Chiefs intact. I can’t wait to get out on the field and watch the guys.”

Here’s a look at some of the positions Kansas City might further address in the coming weeks.

Inside Linebacker: Depth at inside linebacker may be the team’s biggest post-draft need.

Many expected the Chiefs to select Boston College LB Luke Kuechly with the 11th pick in the 2012 draft, but that possibility ended when Kuechly went No. 9 to Carolina. Kansas City would not address the position through the draft, but did add Louisville LB Dexter Heyman this week as an undrafted free agent.

The Chiefs have a more than capable backup to both Jovan Belcher and Derrick Johnson in veteran Brandon Siler, but Siler’s health remains a concern after tearing his Achilles tendon during training camp last season.

Before the injury, Siler looked in line to unseat Demorrio Williams as the team’s top reserve at middle linebacker. Much of Siler’s appeal is his ability to play both the strong and weak positions. Williams, who was exclusively a weak-side player, was released in March.

Behind Siler, the Chiefs lack experienced depth. Greenwood has been a key member of the specialty units, but has played just 24 defensive snaps over the past two seasons. Caleb Campbell, who spent time on the Chiefs practice squad last season, is also vying for a roster spot.

Safety: The Chiefs reportedly brought in former Rams and Redskins safety Oshiomogho Atogwe for a free agent visit this week. Interest in Atogwe makes sense considering Kansas City’s lack of experienced depth behind starters Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis.

Four players received starts at strong safety last season after Berry suffered a season-ending knee injury on Opening Day. Of those four starters, only Donald Washington is under contract for 2012. Jon McGraw, Reshard Langford and Sabby Piscitelli are all currently free agents.

Kansas City has a number of players that can play the corner/safety hybrid, including fifth-round draft pick DeQuan Menzie and last year’s fourth-round pick Jalil Brown, but the defensive backfield has traditionally seen an established veteran command the third safety job.

A veteran who can play both safety positions, similar to the role McGraw played, would be a nice addition.

Offensive Line: The Chiefs hit the offensive line hard through the draft and rookie free agency, spending two selections on o-linemen and adding another two prospects after the draft. The roster count at the position currently stands at 13 players. Kansas City opened training camp with 14 offensive linemen last season.

While the Chiefs are built for the future with young talent, adding short-term veteran help would bolster the team’s depth. No player behind the projected starting five has notable playing experience.

At tackle, the development of David Mims and Donald Stephenson is paramount to the depth of Kansas City’s offensive line.

Defensive End: When Tyson Jackson suffered a knee injury in the 2010 season opener, the Chiefs were able to turn the starting job over to veteran Shaun Smith. Behind starting defensive ends Jackson and Glenn Dorsey the Chiefs have a number of interesting options, but no clear-cut choice.

Amon Gordon was one of the team’s most versatile defensive linemen last season and Allen Bailey looks ready to fully take over the sub-package snaps Wallace Gilberry received over the past few seasons. Brandon Bair now has a full season in the Chiefs system and the team used a seventh-round pick on Jerome Long.

But who is the favorite to take over base snaps if Jackson or Dorsey were unavailable?

Depth at defensive end isn’t the most glaring need for the Chiefs, but it’s currently an intriguing roster situation.

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