2018 was a successful season for the Kansas City Chiefs. The team had a lot of changes, which included releasing long-time defensive stars Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson. In addition, they traded away Marcus Peters and long-time starting quarterback Alex Smith. This was a clear sign that the team was finally allowing second-year QB Patrick Mahomes the keys to the offense and it worked out successfully.

Mahomes had a historical 2018, throwing for 5,097 yards to go along with 50 touchdowns on route to winning the league MVP. The Chiefs finished with a 12-4 record and had a deep playoff run. They were Super Bowl favorites but eventually lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots in the AFC Championship. Despite the loss, Chiefs fans should be proud of the 2018 and look to repeat their success heading into 2019.

A significant change that happened during the season was releasing star running back Kareem Hunt, who was released from the team after a video surfaced of him being involved in an altercation with a woman in a hotel room. He was placed on the Commissioners Exempt List before being released by the team and failing to tell the organization the truth behind the video. He is now currently on the Cleveland Browns and from an on the field perspective, this is a huge loss but even when he was off the team, they still had success. Still, it hurts to not have a starting-caliber player like Hunt in the backfield

Heading into the 2019 offseason, Kansas City made a few more changes on the defensive side. They released Defensive End Justin Houston and Safety Eric Berry, who were two of the longest-tenured players on the Chiefs.  They replaced Berry by signing Tyrann Mathieu from the Houston Texans and trading for Frank Clark. They also ended up trading Dee Ford to the San Francisco 49ers after failing to secure a long-term deal with the pass rusher.

Here are the position breakdowns for the Kansas City Chiefs, along with my projected starting lineup, backups, and preseason cuts.

Quarterbacks

Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
  • Starter: Patrick Mahomes
  • Backup: Chad Henne
  • Preseason Cuts: Kyle Shurmur, Chase Litton

Mahomes is coming off an MVP season and he is only 23 years old. Just let that sink in because that was only after just one full season as the starter. Who knows how much he can improve in year two as the starter. The sky is the limit. Henne is a veteran QB but Chief fans hope he is only used in garbage time rather than an injury replacement.

Running Backs

Credit: Denny Medley/USA Today Sports
  • Starters: Damien Williams (RB), Anthony Sherman (FB)
  • Backups: Carlos Hyde, Darrel Williams, Darwin Thompson, Tremon Smith
  • Preseason Cuts: Marcus Marshall

While losing Hunt during the season hurt, Williams burst onto the scene, especially during the playoffs and is a great all-around back. Hyde was signed this past offseason and is a power back that’ll form a nice 1-2 punch in the backfield. Sherman is considered one of the best fullbacks in the league and will provide a lot of open lanes for any running back that lines up behind him.

Darrel Williams and rookie Thompson will provide some nice depth while Smith, who made the All-Rookie Team in 2018 as a return man, will mainly see the field as the full-time kick and punt returner.

Wide Receivers

Credit: Charlie Riedel/Associated Press
  • Starters: Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins
  • Backups: Mecole Hardman, Demarcus Robinson, Byron Pringle, Cody Thompson
  • Preseason Cuts: Felton Davis, Davon Grayson, Rashard Davis, Gehrig Deiter, Jody Fortson, Jamal Custis
  • Out for the Year: Marcus Kemp

There was worry that Hill would be possibly suspended for multiple games in 2019, but that was not the case and will start this season as the best receivers on the team and in the conversation as one of the best in the league. Watkins is a consistent starter that’ll only benefit with Mahomes throwing him the ball once again. Hardman was drafted in the second round of the 2018 draft that only gives Mahomes another weapon to throw to as he is a speed receiver that’ll stretch the field.

Robinson, Pringle, and Thompson are also solid speed receivers that’ll get some looks in the offense with the latter two getting some looks on Special Teams. Overall, an underrated receiving core that’ll be fast and hard to cover from opposing secondaries.

Tight Ends

Credit: Abbie Parr/Getty Images
  • Starter: Travis Kelce
  • Backups: Deon Yelder, Blake Bell
  • Preseason Cuts: John Lovett, Manasseh Garner, Nick Keizer
  • Out for the Year: David Wells

Kelce is definitely one of, if not the best, tight end in the NFL. After three straight 1,000 yard seasons, he is one Mahomes’ favorite targets next to Hill. Yelder and Bell are solid tight ends in their own right that’ll provide nice depth.

Offensive Line

Credit: Justin K. Aller/Getty Images
  • Starters: Eric Fisher, Andrew Wylie, Austin Reiter, Laurent Duvernay-Tarfdif, Mitchell Schwartz
  • Backups: Cameron Erving, Nick Allegretti, Kahlil McKenzie
  • Preseason Cuts: Chidi Okeke, Zach Golditch, Ryan Hunter, Abdul Beecham, Dino Boyd, Pace Murphy, Jimmy Murray

After struggling for the early part of his career, Fisher has finally developed in a solid left tackle to protect Mahomes’ blindside while Schwartz is in the conversation as one of the best right tackles in the NFL. They may have lost Mitch Morse at the center spot, but Reiter is a solid center in his own right while Wyile and Duvernay-Tardif is a nice guard combination.

Erving is the top backup option as he can be plugged in any of the offensive line positions. Allegretti and McKenzie are young and could develop as future starters down the line.

Defensive Line

Credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
  • Starters: Frank Clark, Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Emmanuel Ogbah
  • Backups: Alex Okafor, Tanoh Kpassagnon, Breeland Speaks
  • Preseason Cuts: Xavier Williams, Joey Ivie, Khalen Saunders, Hunter Dimick, Justin Hamilton, Robert McCray, Cavon Walker
  • Out for the Year: Tim Ward

New Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo will bring in his 4-3 defense after Kansas City has had a 3-4 defense for the past few seasons.

Like stated earlier, Ford and Houston are out and are replaced with Clark and Emmanuel Ogbah. Both bring in power on the defensive end, especially Clark, who proved he is a top pass rusher in the league. Jones and Nnadi are quality starters on the inside that’ll benefit with Clark and Ogbah. Okafor is a veteran that joins in the rotation as well as Kpassagon and Speaks.

Linebackers

Credit: Denny Medley/USA Today Sports
  • Starters: Anthony Hichens, Reggie Ragland, Damien Wilson
  • Backups: Darron Lee, Jeremiah Attaochu, Dorian O’Daniel
  • Preseason Cuts: Raymond Davidson, D’Juan Hines, Ben Niemann, Darius Harris

With the new three linebacker set, Ragland will start in the middle. Ragland is a former second-round pick from the Buffalo Bills that’ll look to improve from his impressive 2018 campaign, where he was second on the team with 86 total tackles.

Guys like Wilson, Hitchens, and Attaochu will look to adjust as they are more 3-4 linebackers but should adjust nicely in the new system. Lee and O’Daniel are young linebackers that’ll get a lot of playing time and may play some Special Teams.

Cornerbacks

Credit: Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports
  • Starters: Kendall Fuller, Bashaud Breeland
  • Backups: Morris Claiborne, Charvarius Ward, Rashad Fenton, Mark Fields
  • Preseason Cuts: D’Monte Wade, Michael Hunter, Herb Miller, Dakari Monroe
  • Out for the Year: Keith Reaser

Fuller was acquired via the Alex Smith trade and has shown he is the best corner on the roster right now. Breeland has signed this past offseason and should be a nice upgrade as the second corner on the roster. Ward and Claiborne will rotate and bring solid depth while Fenton and Fields are two rookies that could develop into starters down the line.

Safeties

Credit: Troy Taormina/USA Today Sports
  • Starters: Tyrann Mathieu, Juan Thornhill
  • Backups: Armani Watts, Daniel Sorensen, Jordan Lucas
  • Preseason Cuts: Harold Jones-Quartey, Andrew Soroh

Eric Berry is no longer on the team and was replaced by Mathieu, which is a huge upgrade in my opinion. He is a versatile, ball-hawking safety that can tackle. Thornhill, a second-round rookie, will look to start right away opposite Mathieu.

Sorensen, Watts, and Lucas are quality backups and will get plenty of looks in the rotation and will also contribute on Special Teams.

Specialists 

Credit: David Eulitt/Getty Images
  • Kicker: Harrison Butker
  • Punter: Dustin Colquitt
  • Long Snapper: James Winchester
  • Preseason Cuts: Jack Fox

No significant changes here. Butker is a good, young kicker who is very consistent. Colquitt has been a great punter for Kansas City since 2005 while Winchester is a solid veteran long snapper. Like the other teams mentioned outside of the Chicago Bears, there is no competition here.

The Kansas City Chiefs have a ton of momentum heading into the 2019 season. Mahomes will look to repeat his MVP Season and at 23 years old, he’ll only get better. Guys like Kelce, Hill, and Williams are great weapons that’ll only help the young QB. The offensive line stays intact and should keep Mahomes upright for the season.

While the team has lost a lot of defensive veterans, that side of the ball looks to be improved with young and better options. Clark, Jones, and Ogbah is a great defensive line while the linebacking core, with Ragland leading the group, should only improve in the new 4-3 defense. The secondary looks solid with Fuller, Breeland, rookie Thornhill, and start Mathieu being the starting group.

The AFC West is the Chiefs’ division to lose. If the offense plays anything like that did last season and the defense improves, they’ll be favorites to make the AFC Championship once again. We could see them in the Super Bowl with Mahomes having another offseason under his belt.

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