5 Kansas City Chiefs who could lose their roster spot after the 2024 NFL Draft

The Kansas City Chiefs may push some players off the roster with how they draft.
Kansas City Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire
Kansas City Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire / David Eulitt/GettyImages

The 2024 NFL Draft is becoming increasingly important for the Kansas City Chiefs with each passing day. Reports suggest that wide receiver Rashee Rice could miss multiple games due to suspension as a result of his high-speed car accident in Dallas. There is still a huge need at offensive tackle to protect Patrick Mahomes. And let's not forget replenishing the secondary after trading L'Jarius Sneed.

Even picking at the end of every round as the back-to-back Super Bowl Champions, the Chiefs have the ability to address their major needs in meaningful ways. But that's ultimately a two-way street for Kansas City. If they draft prospects to either be immediate starters or fill out depth charts, that's going to push players off of the Chiefs roster.

These five Kansas City Chiefs, in particular, should be quite worried about their roster spots with the 2024 NFL Draft forthcoming.

5. Drafting Sneed's replacement gives Chiefs an out with Kelvin Joseph

As mentioned, the Chiefs are surely going to be in the cornerback market in the 2024 NFL Draft after trading L'Jarius Sneed to the Tennessee Titans. They don't need an outright replacement for the top-tier corner thanks to the 2023 emergence of Trent McDuffie that the franchise expects to continue, but Kansas City would be best-served still by further filling out the depth chart.

The expectation for the team's process should be that they eye a cornerback either at the end of the third round or even on Day 3, a range in the draft wherein Veach has had enormous success at finding value (Sneed himself being a prime example of that). Whoever is drafted should come in and compete with Jaylen Watson and Joshua Williams for snaps as well.

Further down the depth chart, however, is former Dallas Cowboys second-round pick Kelvin Joseph. After a year with the Dolphins and Seahawks following a preseason trade from Big D, the Chiefs inked Joseph to a reserve/futures contract in hopes of mining some value from the former Top 50 pick. But if Kansas City adds another cornerback in the draft, it's hard to believe that Joseph will be long for this organization.

4. Irv Smith Jr. could fall quickly out of the Chiefs TE depth chart

One of the recent trends in mock drafts or speculation is that the Chiefs could start their preparation for life after Travis Kelce. The all-world tight end and Taylor Swift's paramour is in his mid-30s and has already reportedly flirted with the idea of retiring. So in that respect, it would behoove Kansas City to think about how they would ostensibly replace him, though it remains to be seen just how aggressively they would look to do so in the 2024 draft class, a group that is top-heavy at tight end.

What can be said with almost absolute certainty is that the Chiefs' replacement for Kelce is not on the roster. Noah Gray has been a great role player in a backup role but has struggled to ascend when given opportunities. Then, Kansas City brought in veteran Irv Smith Jr. this offseason in hopes of adding to the depth at the position, but Smith struggled mightily to catch on with the tight end-needy Bengals last season while also struggling to stay healthy in his career.

Smith fits the mold of a flier who is encased in the "Break In Case of Emergency" glass. There isn't a clear role for him barring injury and, frankly, a recently drafted prospect would be far more enticing than the veteran as a long-term option, and perhaps in the short term for the Chiefs as well. If they draft a tight end as many are projecting currently, I don't see how Smith earns a roster spot over that player.

Justyn Ross
Kansas City Chiefs WR Justyn Ross / Stephen Maturen/GettyImages

3. The Justyn Ross experiment could be over for the Chiefs after the draft

Elephant in the room, we don't know precisely what's going to happen with Rashee Rice at this point. He's facing multiple serious charges and punishment is almost inevitable from the NFL with ESPN insider Adam Schefter reporting that a "multi-game suspension" is basically best-case scenario at this point. But regardless of Rice's outcome, wide receiver remains a huge need for the Chiefs.

The Chiefs are going to draft a wide receiver early, almost certainly at either the No. 32 or 64 picks, if they don't trade up to address the need. Removing Rice from the equation, that would give Kansas City a top of the wide receiver room that includes Marquise Brown, the rookie, Justin Watson, Kadarius Toney and Skyy Moore. Toney and Moore have been headaches on the field, but the organization continues to express belief in both former Top 64 picks.

Justyn Ross, on the other hand, has dealt with injuries and off-field issues of his own. The former UDFA has been a training camp darling among fans for several years, but the dividends haven't been shown in the regular season. With a newcomer -- and perhaps multiple -- entering the fray by way of the draft, that's going to severely limit Ross' opportunities.

While I would argue that trading or cutting Toney might be their best bet, the Chiefs seem to disagree. And as such, Ross could ultimately be the odd man out of this equation for Kansas City going into the 2024 season.

2. Clyde Edwards-Helaire's time with the Chiefs could still be done

After the expiration of his rookie contract, some speculated that Kansas City would be moving on from former first-round pick Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Instead, a few weeks into free agency, the club re-signed the running back on a one-year deal at roughly the veteran minimum.

The expectation with the current roster is that CEH will once again presume the role of Isiah Pacheco's backfield backup with Deneric Prince or La'Mical Perine serving in the Jerick McKinnon-type role. But the draft could have a heavy hand in changing that math if the Chiefs draft another running back.

Make no mistake, this would not be a priority pick for Veach and the front office. However, looking early on Day 3 at players like Purdue's Tyron Tracy or Clemson's Will Shipley, among others, those guys could offer more upside than Edwards-Helaire at this point. And while CEH would carry around a $1.3 million dead cap hit to cut him, they could possibly find a trade for a late-round future pick that would save the Chiefs roughly $1 million.

And if that also comes with an upgraded running back depth chart, which isn't far-fetched given Edwards-Helaire's middling contributions, that's even better for Kansas City.

1. Chiefs taking a Top 64 OT would be the end of Lucas Niang

For all of the talk about how badly the Chiefs need to draft a wide receiver, the truth of the matter is that Kansas City's need at offensive tackle might be equally as dire. Jawaan Taylor was a penalty magnet in his first season with the club, Donovan Smith played out his one-year deal and is now gone, and now the options currently on the roster to start at left tackle are Wanya Morris and Lucas Niang.

That's not going to cut it when it comes to protecting Patrick Mahomes, at least not if the coaching staff wants to be able to do so with confidence. Subsequently, the draft is a likely option for the Chiefs to address the position. Players like Tyler Guyton, Kingsley Suimataia, Jordan Morgan or even Patrick Paul could all be in play for Brett Veach, among others. Yes, outliers on the free agent market like David Bakhtiari could be options as well, but the draft appears the likelier option.

Should that indeed play out, it's likely that Niang will get the axe from Kansas City. He's been in the building longer tha Morris but that could work against him considering that he's still not ready to step in and contribute meaningfully for the Chiefs, which we saw even last year when Morris played more snaps as a rookie. If they draft another player, especially in the first two rounds, keeping Niang around doesn't serve much of a purpose with Morris there as a more confident backup option.

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