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Projecting positions for the 2014 draft

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Friday’s nationwide release of the movie “Draft Day” has the juices pumping four weeks in advance for the real thing, which kicks off on May 8.

Oct 20, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; General view of Arrowhead Stadium. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 20, 2013; Kansas City, MO, USA; General view of Arrowhead Stadium. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

As of now, the Chiefs have 73 players on the roster and six draft picks, leaving 11 spots available for undrafted free agents or veteran free agents to reach the offseason roster maximum of 90 players.

The Chiefs selection spots in the 2014 NFL Draft are:

• 1.23
• No second-round pick as part of Alex Smith trade
• 3.87
• 4.124
• 5.163
• 6.193 (from Dallas in Edgar Jones trade)
• 6.200
• No seventh-round pick as part of Jones trade

Of course, mock drafts are best left to the subject matter experts who spend an enormous amount of time reviewing film and individual players all year.

Instead, here’s a positional preview and projected probability of where the Chiefs are likely to address during May’s three-day selection process.

Quarterback (3)
Draft probability: Low
Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray

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The Chiefs are working on extending Smith’s contract, which expires after the 2014 season, and don’t need to spend a draft pick at this position.

Still, the team could sign an undrafted free agent for competition at the No. 3 spot.

Running back (4)
Draft probability: Low
Jamaal Charles, Knile Davis, Cyrus Gray, Joe McKnight

—–

Charles, 27, is in the prime of his career and the Chiefs used a third-round pick on Davis last year to be Charles’ primary backup. Gray is a solid contributor on special teams.

McKnight, who signed a reserve/future deal in January, intrigues given his experience and versatility to contribute on special teams. He’ll need to stand out in the months leading to training camp to make an impression.

Nevertheless, bringing in an additional running back for organized team activities (OTAs) minicamp and training camp wouldn’t be a bad idea considering Davis returns from a broken leg.

Fullback (2)
Draft probability: Low
Eric Kettani, Anthony Sherman

—–

Sherman is the clear starter, while Kettani joined the practice squad late in the 2013 season to replace Toben Opurum, who signed with the Houston Texans.

The Chiefs don’t need a repeat of 2013 with a wasted pick on Braden Wilson, who was cut during the preseason. An undrafted fullback can be added for training camp if desired.

Wide receiver (9)
Draft probability: High
Donnie Avery, Dwayne Bowe, Weston Dressler, Frankie Hammond, Junior Hemingway, Jerrell Jackson, A.J. Jenkins, Rashad Ross, Fred   Williams

—–

While numerous mock drafts and draft analysts have the Chiefs taking a receiver in the first round, the team shouldn’t be compelled to take one unless a coveted player falls in their lap.

Otherwise, the brain trust should take the best player available knowing they can afford to wait for the middle rounds considering the depth of the position in this year’s draft. The other scenario is a trade to acquire a second-round pick.

As for the type of receiver, look for the team to secure a speedy player to fill the slot role vacated by Dexter McCluster, who signed a free-agent contract with the Tennessee Titans.

The Chiefs offered a strong hint of a desire for a speedster by the interest shown in Emmanuel Sanders, who signed with the Denver Broncos, and the exploratory feeler on DeSean Jackson, who signed with the Washington Redskins after being released by the Philadelphia Eagles.

Sanders or Jackson would’ve taken McCluster’s role and both can also contribute on special teams as a returner, another of McCluster’s duties needing to be filled.

Meanwhile, despite the angst over the position, an Andy Reid offense isn’t designed for a dominant wide receiver, evidenced by his history.

Too many forget Reid only had three 1,000-yard receivers in his 14 seasons with the Eagles: Terrell Owens (2004), Kevin Curtis (2007) and Jackson (2009-10).

Additionally, it takes a player in Reid’s offense at least two years to fully understand the intricacies of the scheme. In that scenario, the returning members of the Chiefs receiving corps should be improved, while a new addition gets acclimated.

Tight end (5)
Draft probability: Medium
Anthony Fasano, Richard Gordon, Demetrius Harris, Travis Kelce, Sean McGrath

—–

As noted here, the 2013 tight end production proved the worst Reid received in his system since 2007 with the Philadelphia Eagles. Of course, Kelce’s season-ending knee injury and Fasano’s missed games didn’t help.

Too many are quick to say the Chiefs need a tight end because of quarterback Alex Smith, who enjoyed success with Vernon Davis in San Francisco.

That’s only half the truth.

In reality, the Chiefs need a reliable tight end because the position is a proven essential part of Reid’s version of the West Coast offense regardless of quarterback.

It wouldn’t surprise to see the Chiefs draft a tight end, especially if there are lingering concerns over Kelce, who underwent microfracture knee surgery in early October 2013.

Offensive line (12)
Draft probability: High
Jeff Allen, Chandler Burden, Robert Dill, Eric Fisher, Ricky Henry, Rodney Hudson, Rishaw Johnson, Colin Kelly, Eric Kush, Jeff   Linkenbach, Donald Stephenson, Rokevious Watkins

—–

Fisher, last season’s No. 1 pick overall, will start at left tackle; Stephenson at right tackle; Hudson is the starting center; and Allen the left guard.

After that, it’s anybody’s guess how the right guard position plays out between Johnson, Watkins and Linkenbach or who the primary backup tackles are.

While Linkenbach can play guard or tackle, the Chiefs need to address the offensive line in the draft.

Defensive line (10)
Draft probability: High
Chas Alecxih, Allen Bailey, Risean Broussard, Mike Catapano, Mike DeVito, Cory Grissom, Dominique Hamilton, Jaye Howard, Dontari Poe, Vance Walker

—–

Walker, a free-agent signing, is versatile and can play outside or inside.

But while Walker’s specific role remains unclear, Bailey, Catapano and DeVito are the only bona fide defensive ends on the roster after Tyson Jackson signed a free-agent deal with the Atlanta Falcons.

Adding a defensive end through the draft more than makes sense.

Linebacker (12)
Draft probability: Medium
Jordan Campbell, Tamba Hali, Alonzo Highsmith, Justin Houston, Derrick Johnson, James-Michael Johnson, Nico Johnson, Josh Martin,  Joe Mays, Dezman Moses, Ridge Wilson, Frank Zombo

—–

Hali turns 31 in November, so it wouldn’t be a bad idea to seek his heir-apparent at the outside linebacker position sooner than later. Houston’s contract also expires at the end of the 2014 season, but the Chiefs are working on extending his deal.

The Chiefs replaced Akeem Jordan, who signed with the Washington Redskins, with Joe Mays and he’ll compete with Nico Johnson, last year’s fourth-round pick, for an inside linebacker spot.

Defensive back (13)
Draft probability: High
Husain Abdullah, Eric Berry, Malcolm Bronson, Sanders Commings, Marcus Cooper, Brandon Flowers, Vernon Kearney, Jerron McMillian, Christopher Owens, Ron Parker, Kevin Rutland, Sean Smith, DeMarcus Van Dyke

—–

With the departures of Kendrick Lewis, last year’s starting free safety now with the Texans, and Quintin Demps, now with the New York Giants, the battle to watch in the coming months is at free safety.

The Chiefs could use a draft pick to address the position, but the scenario in place before the draft is a competition between Abdullah, who returns after signing a two-year deal, and Commings.

General manager John Dorsey has raved about Commings throughout the offseason, indicating the team’s confidence in last year’s fifth-round draft pick. However, Commings must show he’s fully recovered from the shoulder injury that landed him on injured reserve.

Meanwhile, adding a cornerback through the draft or with an undrafted free agent are likely scenarios. The team addressed Dunta Robinson’s February release with the free-agent signing of Owens.

Specialists (3)
Draft probability: Low
Dustin Colquitt, Thomas Gafford, Ryan Succop

—–

The Chiefs can maintain the status quo with Colquitt, one of the league’s top punters, and the reliable Succop. The Chiefs re-signed Gafford, a long snapper, to a one-year deal before the start of free agency.