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A look at the Chiefs depth chart as free agency approaches

Posted Mar 9, 2012

Position-by-position analysis of the Chiefs' needs

The Chiefs have 51 players under contract entering the final weekend before the start of free agency. It’s a list comprised of 24 offensive players, 24 defensive players and three specialists.

Free agency floodgates open Tuesday, March 13th at 3:00 PM (CST) and the Chiefs are expected to be active.

Here’s the state of each position, followed by the depth chart as it stands today, as the big day approaches.

Offensive Players Under Contract (24)

Quarterbacks (2) – The Chiefs will add a quarterback to the roster, we know that much. The intrigue lies in who that player will be.

Peyton Manning rumors are running rampant. In addition, Kyle Orton is a player the organization clearly wants to re-sign. Future free agents Jason Campbell and Chad Henne draw plenty of speculation because of their previous ties to the Chiefs coaching staff and drafting a quarterback is another option.

Running Backs (3) – Kansas City is in the market for a running back with hammerheads Thomas Jones and Jackie Battle both expected to hit unrestricted free agency. With Jamaal Charles coming off knee surgery, acquiring a complimentary runner who can also shoulder the load as a primary back would be ideal.

Chiefs GM Scott Pioli spoke highly of this year’s running back class at the NFL Scouting Combine. If the Chiefs don’t get their guy through free agency, look for reinforcements this April. Also, Dexter McCluster could be in line for a larger role.

Fullbacks (1) – There are a ton of question marks at the fullback position, none being more relevant than new offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s view of the position.

Daboll used versatile rookie Charles Clay in Miami’s offense last season. The Chiefs currently don’t have a player who fits Clay’s mold.

Shane Bannon is unproven after spending the majority of his rookie season on the practice squad reserve list. Starter Le’Ron McClain is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency.

Tight Ends (3) – The Chiefs could use a proven veteran at the position with Tony Moeaki coming off knee surgery. When Moeaki went down, the position group had no response in the receiving game.

Former offensive tackle Steve Maneri could be a factor as the group’s blocking specialist a la Jason Dunn of the early 2000s. Leonard Pope and Anthony Becht are both set to become unrestricted free agents.

 Wide Receivers (7) – Kansas City’s receiving core is strong heading into 2012 now that Dwayne Bowe has received the franchise tag. Bowe pairs with Steve Breaston and Jonathan Baldwin to give the Chiefs a formidable trio of receives.

The team could use help in the slot with Breaston playing the majority of his snaps on the outside last season. Depth is also an issue.

Offensive Tackles (2) – Branden Albert is the only player currently under contract capable of being an Opening Day starter. Tackle is the Chiefs biggest position of need entering free agency.

Guards/Centers (6) – Both starting guards are set to return and it appears the team is ready to hand the starting job at center to Rodney Hudson. Regardless, look for the interior line positions to be addressed. The reserve ranks are comprised of only practice squad players.

Iron man Casey Wiegmann is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency and expected to retire.

Defensive Players Under Contract (24)

Defensive Ends (4) – Starters Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson return. So does top reserve Allen Bailey. However, there is still room for addition with Wallace Gilberry scheduled to hit the open market.

Nose Tackles (2) – This is the biggest position of need on the defensive side of the football. Jerrell Powe played only seven defensive snaps last season and Anthony Toribio has played just 65 defensive snaps since joining the team in 2010.

Kelly Gregg will become an unrestricted free agent and is rumored to be leaning toward retirement. Amon Gordon is in the same boat, minus the retirement rumors.

If the Chiefs don’t add a starter through free agency, expect mock drafts to light up with Dontari Poe predictions. A Poe and a Powe at the same position could get confusing.

Outside Linebackers (5) – Pro Bowler Tamba Hali returns as one of the starters. Chiefs Rookie of the Year Justin Houston returns as another. The Chiefs look set at outside linebacker both short and long term.

The reserves bring an interesting mix. Andy Studebaker has shown to be a capable backup. Cameron Sheffield has flashed. Gabe Miller is a project.

Inside Linebacker (4) – Jovan Belcher isn’t part of this list, yet. Pencil him in for a return alongside Derrick Johnson since he’s only a restricted free agent.

Outside of Johnson and Belcher, the Chiefs have room for addition. Brandon Siler could be a capable backup to both inside positions and possibly even push Belcher for a starting job, but is coming off a torn Achilles. Cory Greenwood makes his mark on special teams and Caleb Campbell was on the practice squad last season.

Free agent addition or draft pick? There’s an argument for either. The Chiefs have yet to draft an inside linebacker under Pioli’s watch.

Cornerback (5) – All eyes will be on Brandon Carr when free agency kicks off next week. Should he return, the Chiefs are set at the position. Should he relocate, Kansas City will have competition at nickel.

Javier Arenas showed progress midway through last season and Jalil Brown has the frame to matchup with receiving tight ends. Jacques Reeves has done it before, but not recently.

Overshadowed by Carr’s contract status, Travis Daniels is also a notable free agent.

Safeties (4) – Eric Berry and Kendrick Lewis offer a solid starting pair, but who’s ready to be the next man up? Jon McGraw, Sabby Piscittelli and Reshard Langford are all currently without a contract for next season.

With Berry coming off knee surgery and Lewis undergoing off-season shoulder surgery, the Chiefs must enter the summer feeling good about their third and fourth options at the position. Key safety as the team’s most underrated position of need.

Specialists Under Contract (3)

Kicker/Punter/Long Snapper (3) – Its status quo on special teams with the exception of new coaches Tom McMahon and Derius Swinton.

Unoffical Depth Chart Heading Into Free Agency

*indicates player ended 2011 season on practice squad

OFFENSE
WR 15 Steve Breaston 89 Jonathan Baldwin 11 Jeremy Horne
LT 76 Branden Albert 70 David Mims
LG 65 Ryan Lilja 66 *Darryl Harris 74 *Lucas Patterson
C 61 Rodney Hudson 60 *Rob Bruggeman
RG 73 Jon Asamoah
RT
TE 81 Tony Moeaki 85 Jake O'Connell 87 Steve Maneri
WR 82 Dwayne Bowe 10 Terrance Copper 84 *Jamar Newsome
X Zeke Markshausen
QB 7 Matt Cassel 13 Ricky Stanzi
FB 40 *Shane Bannon
RB 25 Jamaal Charles 22 Dexter McCluster 32 Shaun Draughn
DEFENSE
RDE 72 Glenn Dorsey 90 Brandon Bair
NT 95 Jerrell Powe 98 *Anthony Toribio
LDE 94 Tyson Jackson 97 Allen Bailey
ROLB 91 Tamba Hali 55 Cameron Sheffield 51 Gabe Miller
RILB 56 Derrick Johnson 93 Cory Greenwood 57 *Caleb Campbell
LILB 52 Brandon Siler
LOLB 50 Justin Houston 96 Andy Studebaker
RCB X Stanford Routt 21 Javier Arenas 30 Jalil Brown
LCB 24 Brandon Flowers X Jacques Reeves
FS 23 Kendrick Lewis 41 Kyle McCarthy
SS 29 Eric Berry 27 Donald Washington
SPECIALISTS
P 2 Dustin Colquitt 6 Ryan Succop
K 6 Ryan Succop
KO 6 Ryan Succop
PC 43 Thomas Gafford 96 Andy Studebaker 93 Cory Greenwood
KC 43 Thomas Gafford 96 Andy Studebaker 93 Cory Greenwood
H 2 Dustin Colquitt
PR 21 Javier Arenas 22 Dexter McCluster
KR 21 Javier Arenas 22 Dexter McCluster