Predicting The First Cut

The third preseason game is the last chance for many NFL hopefuls to make a lasting impression. It's no different for the Chiefs. Head coach Todd Haley said this week is the hardest for players, because it's the third week of pounding on your teammates in two-a-days, and it signals the end of seasons and careers for many.

Every NFL team must trim their roster to a maximum of 75 players by Tuesday, meaning they must let go of five players. There are a lot of fringe players working out with the Chiefs right now, and Haley has said no one has made the team yet, as signaled by the lack of arrowhead decals on helmets during practice. By next Saturday, at least 17 current Chiefs will be looking elsewhere for employment, but which five will get a head start on the job search after Tuesday's first wave of cuts? I'll tell you who I think has the highest chance.

Defensive ends Bobby Greenwood and Dion Gales

Both Gales' and Greenwood's performances have been underwhelming thus far in training camp. Neither has been consistent, and they happen to play a position with a lot of numbers on KC's roster. After switching to the 3-4, Haley and general manager Scott Pioli desperately needed defensive ends capable of playing the scheme.

Tamba Hali and Turk McBride moved to outside linebacker, and the Chiefs threw numbers at the defensive end position, bringing in players with the right body type - long, tall, strong physiques. Greenwood and Gales fit that description, but that's about all they do. Look for Pioli to try and find some other 3-4 ends in the wake of Tuesday's impending cuts.

Cornerback Jackie Bates

The defensive backfield, particularly cornerback, is one of the rebuilding Chiefs' few strengths. A productive 2008 draft brought in starters Brandon Carr and Brandon Flowers. Keen scouting brought in playmaker Maurice Leggett. That's unfortunate for Bates, because he's listed at the bottom of KC's depth chart.

In all likelihood, the Chiefs will keep only five cornerbacks, with the possibility of a sixth. That leaves, at minimum, two cornerbacks off the final roster. Right ahead of Bates on the depth chart is fellow rookie Donald Washington. Unlike Bates, Washington was drafted, and front offices tend to lean towards a player they drafted over free agents. Also, Washington is a freakish athlete with loads of potential, and is struggling because he joined the team late after Ohio State's absurdly late graduation. All this puts Bates on the chopping block sooner rather than later.

Guard Darryl Harris

Just looking at the depth chart and picking the last player at a few positions would be the easy way out, but that's not how we roll at Warpaint Illustrated, especially considering the offensive line positions are a mess. The Chiefs have Andy Alleman listed as a center and Ike Ndukwe listed as a third-string guard, but Alleman has played right guard exclusively and Ndukwe has played right tackle exclusively. Also, Wade Smith has moved back to center from guard this week.

What does all this mean for Harris? Nothing positive. When Kansas City added the two former Dolphins this week, it made the offensive line competition that much more crowded. Alleman and Ndukwe bring versatility and experience to the table, whereas Harris does not. The offensive line, like the defensive line, is a place where I expect the Chiefs make additions after Tuesday's cuts, and room must be made somewhere.

Safety Ricky Price

Eventually, the Chiefs will cut two safeties. Unfortunately for Price, all the safeties ahead of him on the depth chart are either draft picks or veterans with leadership and experience to offer. Mike Brown was a valuable member of the feared Bears defenses of the last several years. Though he's suffered from injuries throughout his career, he still brings intangibles to the locker room.

Jon McGraw was a Herm Edwards' favorite. Haley has shown no mercy for Edwards' favorites, but McGraw can still play at a high level on special teams. DaJuan Morgan is also an Edwards' special, and he has underachieved since being drafted in the third round in 2008, but his athletic ability is still superior to Price's. McGraw or Morgan may also be cut, but Price goes first. Top Stories