Kansas City Chiefs 53-Man Roster Projection: What Could the Final Defense Look Like?

    Looking for a three-peat and returning a majority of their dominant 2023 defense, who will make the Chiefs' final 53-man roster in 2024?

    In 2023, the Kansas City Chiefs had the second-best defense in the NFL by yards and points allowed. Subsequently, their defense was key in winning their second consecutive Super Bowl. Now, in 2024, the Chiefs are more or less running it back.

    Kansas City lost L’Jarius Sneed in a trade, which projects to be an important loss. However, KC did add some depth in the NFL Draft. Besides that, there isn’t much change on defense for the Super Bowl champions.

    Kansas City Chiefs 53-Man Roster Projection | Defense

    The lack of any major additions keeps the Chiefs’ defense in a similar spot to last year. Could the loss of Sneed come back to bite them, or do they have the guys to replace him already on the roster?

    That answer becomes more clear as we break down what the defense and special-teams units could look like for Kansas City in 2024.

    Defensive Tackle (5)

    Starters: Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi

    Backups: Mike Pennel, Tershawn Wharton, Isaiah Buggs

    The biggest win of the offseason for the Chiefs was re-signing Chris Jones and keeping him in town. As the star of Kansas City’s defense and one of the most important players in each of its Super Bowl victories, keeping Jones around was a make-or-break type move.

    Additionally, the Chiefs will return both Tershawn Wharton and Derrick Nnadi, who were key to a successful run defense in 2023 and have been around for a few years. Beyond those two, though, the Chiefs return Mike Pennel and Isaiah Buggs, both signed in 2023.

    Buggs is no lock, as he will be competing with Neil Farrell, Matt Dickerson, and Fabien Lovett Sr. for the final spot on the roster.

    EDGE (5)

    Starters: George Karlaftis, Mike Danna

    Backups: Charles Omenihu, Malik Herring, Felix Anudike-Uzomah

    Karlaftis and Danna both returning will keep the Chiefs’ stout run defense intact while also continuing to provide them with a strong pass rush. Charles Omenihu, who was proving to have an impact late last season before suffering a torn ACL in Super Bowl 58, will also return healthy at some point.

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    Additionally, former first-round pick Felix Anudike-Uzomah looks to take a step forward, which could bode very well for Kansas City. Malik Herring will also return while both BJ Thompson and Truman Jones will compete for spots on the bottom of the roster.

    Linebacker (5)

    Starters: Nick Bolton, Leo Chenal, Drue Tranquill

    Backups: Cam Jones, Jack Cochrane

    Arguably one of the best and most important parts of the Chiefs’ defense is their linebacking corps. Nick Bolton holds it down as one of the best run defenders in the NFL while Leo Chenal and Drue Tranquill are no slouches. Tranquill was new in 2023, but he was re-signed and is returning for more in 2024.

    In terms of depth, the Chiefs have both Cam Jones and Jack Cochrane who could make the roster. Additionally, three rookies are competing for a spot — Curtis Jacobs, Swayze Bozeman, and Luquay Washington.

    Cornerback (6)

    Starters: Trent McDuffie, Jaylen Watson, Joshua Williams

    Backups: Nic Jones, Kamal Hadden, Nazeeh Johnson

    The Chiefs’ top three corners are all returning in 2024, with Trent McDuffie holding down the nickel spot as one of the best in the NFL. Williams and Watson both received plenty of playing time in 2023. But with the loss of Sneed, both will be in starting roles this year.

    Beyond those three, though, there is an abundance of players competing for the final three depth spots. Those names include Nic Jones, Kamal Hadden, Nazeeh Johnson, Keith Taylor, Christian Roland-Wallace, Ekow Boye-Doe, Kelvin Joseph, D.J. Miller, and Miles Battle.

    Safety (4)

    Starters: Justin Reid, Bryan Cook

    Backups: Jaden Hicks, Chamarri Conner

    Reid and Cook both return in 2024 and will look to keep a strong safety net over the top of the defense. Beyond them, Chamarri Conner returns as a depth piece, and Jaden Hicks is a safety with premier size at the position who was taken in the fourth round of the 2024 NFL Draft.

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    There’s also Deon Bush and Trey Dean III, who will both be competing for a spot. While neither makes the roster here, Dean could return to the practice squad where he finished out the 2023 season.

    Specialist (3)

    Kicker: Harrison Butker

    Punter: Matt Araiza

    Long Snapper: James Winchester

    Butker and Winchester are nothing new, having been staples of the Chiefs’ special-teams unit for years. However, the most notable change is the loss of All-Pro punter Tommy Townsend, who has since joined the Houston Texans. Kansas City is looking to replace him with Matt Araiza, who went by the nickname “Punt God” in college.

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