Andy Reid is entering his tenth season as the Kansas City Chiefs' head coach, as hard as it is to believe. Under his guidance, KC has experienced unprecedented success over the last decade. The Chiefs snapped their 50-year title drought with a Super Bowl LIV victory, and are a consistent contender every year.
The 2022 season will be one of Reid's toughest challenges yet. Kansas City lost players who were key to its recent success, including Tyreek Hill and Tyrann Mathieu, over the offseason. The AFC West, a division the Chiefs have dominated under Reid, now has four potential playoff teams as well.
Even with their losses over the offseason, the Chiefs will be a threat as long as Patrick Mahomes is their quarterback. Make no mistake, Kansas City's roster is still one of the NFL's best. With the preseason opener just days away, the roster is starting to come more into focus.
Charles Goldman of USAToday's ChiefsWire released a depth chart projection based on recent practices. Most of the depth chart lines up with expectations, but it also has a few unexpected choices. Let's look at a few of the surprises on Kansas City's depth chart.
3 biggest surprises from Andy Reid's first Chiefs depth chart for 2022
3. Carlos Dunlap starting over George Karlaftis
Many first-round picks assume starting roles right away with their new teams. That doesn't seem to be the case with Karlaftis, though, as he is a second-stringer on Goldman's depth chart.
Kansas City selected Karlaftis with the No. 30 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. The former Purdue pass rusher stood out in college, with 14 sacks in three seasons. He likely would have entered the season as a starter, if not for a recent signing by the Chiefs.
Dunlap remained on the market for months following his release from Seattle, until the Chiefs came calling. The two-time Pro-Bowler played well for the Seahawks last season, with 8.5 sacks on the year. As a low-risk signing, Dunlap is an excellent addition to Kansas City's defensive front.
Dunlap starting over Karlaftis isn't much of a surprise based on production. Rather, it's a surprise in the sense that Karlaftis was the projected starter through much of the offseason. It's also slightly surprising that the Chiefs' other first round pick, cornerback Trent McDuffie, is starting immediately while Karlaftis isn't.
2. Josh Gordon as a fourth-stringer
Before substance abuse derailed his career, Gordon was one of the most talented receivers in the game. He played his best season with Cleveland in 2013, racking up 1,649 yards and nine touchdowns. Those stats are all the more impressive when the Browns' quarterbacks that year were Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell.
Still, substance abuse issues have made it difficult for Gordon to stay on the field. Over the last five years, he has bounced from Cleveland to New England to Seattle and finally to Kansas City. He played sparingly for the Chiefs last season, posting just five catches for 32 yards and a touchdown.
Even with all his issues, it's still surprising to see Gordon this far down on the depth chart. With Hill gone, the Chiefs need new blood in their receiver room. Having someone with as much raw talent as Gordon would be a big boost to the group, even if he's just a rotational player.
The problem for Gordon may be that Kansas City simply has too many wide outs to manage. Reid described the process of trying to fit so many receivers into the offense as a “juggling act.”
#Chiefs Andy Reid on WR Josh Gordon’s progress at camp
“Trying to get him as many reps a week (and) can still look at the other guys too. It’s a little bit of a juggling act, but he’s doing a nice job. Working very hard.”#ChiefsKingdom@TheChiefsWire✍️https://t.co/q6HFahuPuu pic.twitter.com/yhcQAI2UpV
— Ed Easton Jr. (@EdEastonJr) August 5, 2022
1. Isiah Pacheco as RB3
The Chiefs are a very pass-heavy team, but they still have some great running backs in their ranks. Clyde Edwards-Helaire and Jerk McKinnon both have potential and are due to bounce back after underwhelming seasons. The third running back on the depth chart is more of a surprise, however.
Kansas City selected Pacheco in the seventh-round of the 2022 NFL Draft back in April. The Chiefs likely expected the former Rutgers back to compete for a roster spot, but not much more. Instead, Pacheco is thriving early on and even drawing comparisons to former Chief Kareem Hunt.
Pacheco's position on the depth chart is more surprising when considering the backs he surpassed. Derrick Gore found a niche with the Chiefs last season, rushing for five yards per carry and two scores. Ronald Jones is coming off a down season with Tampa Bay, just 428 yards for four scores, but he figured to have a role with Kansas City after signing with them in free agency this offseason.
Instead, Gore and Jones will likely compete for the fourth running back spot, if there even is one. On the other hand, Pacheco seems to have cemented a roster spot for himself before preseason. A seventh-round pick establishing himself so quickly is very surprising to see.