Ever since the NHL added an expansion team, talk continues to escalate about who each team would protect. The Chiefs are one of the better rosters in the league. They have plenty of players worth keeping. But, in this case, they can only protect 12. Who would they protect? Let’s find out.
**Note: As is the case in the NHL, first and second year players are off limits.
Around the NFL: Ladainian Tomlinson’s call to “The Hall” caps incredible career
What’s Trending: Raiders’ RB, Marshawn Lynch, NFL’s unlikely ambassador
Monday Morning Joe: The widening gap of NFL and NBA salaries
cover32 Fantasy Periscope: Andrew Erickson explores the fantasy value of TE’s for 2017
NFL Reaction: Does Tom Brady stand alone as the greatest of all-time
Alex Smith: Patrick Mahomes automatically gets protected, but Mahomes isn’t ready to go just yet. Alex Smith needs to stay as a bridge and as a mentor. For the Chiefs to contend at the moment, Smith needs to be at the helm.
Justin Houston: Houston is another easy decision. Pass rushers are as important as ever in the NFL. While injuries hampered him last year, he is still one of the best pass rushers in the league.
Travis Kelce: Travis Kelce is another easy choice here. While Rob Gronkowski is the best tight end in the league, Kelce brought his game to another level last season. He caught 85 passes for 1125 yards last season, and he has a chance to be the focal point this season. Kelce isn’t going anywhere.
Marcus Peters: Peters is another guy the Chiefs protect here. A proven playmaker, Peters has 14 interceptions in the last two seasons. He certainly has parts of his game that can improve, but he is a rising superstar in this league.
Eric Berry: The Chiefs have dominant players on every level of their defense. Eric Berry is one of those players. After a year off due to lymphoma, Berry came back better than ever. He is now considered a top safety in the league, with some players and analysts dubbing him the best.
Mitch Morse: Morse is one of the offensive linemen included here. The Chiefs’ offense depends heavily on the offensive line, so this group must stay together. Morse is developing well under center, and he can only get better at age 25.
Spencer Ware: Spencer Ware is an important piece for the Chiefs. His ability as a runner between the tackles, along with his pass catching prowess, prove his worthiness. Andy Reid consistently shows a run first philosophy, and Ware is a huge part of that.
Mitchell Schwartz: Schwartz signed with the Chiefs back in the 2016 offseason. He provides stability on the right side of the line, something the Chiefs desperately need. While other positions deserve a look, keeping the line together is a top priority in these circumstances.
Dee Ford: This league proves one fact year in and year out. Teams never have enough pass rushers on a roster. Ford took time to develop, but he finally proved he belongs on the edge in a big role. His 10 sacks last season show his growing productivity.
Bennie Logan: Rushing defense was an issue for the Chiefs last season, in part due to Dontari Poe’s decline and the lack of depth. Luckily, Chris Jones is exempt, so Bennie Logan is an easy call. While Logan won’t bring pass rushing prowess, he does provide stability as a hole plugger in the run game. Plus, he is only 27 and entering his prime seasons.
Eric Fisher: Unfortunately, Eric Fisher won’t live up to his draft spot. But, that doesn’t mean he isn’t solid as a tackle. Fisher does enough for Kansas City to warrant protection in an expansion draft scenario. Left tackles are a dime a dozen, even at the level where Fisher plays.
Derrick Johnson: Johnson is the most controversial pick on this list. His age warrants serious discussion. But, he had a productive season after a major injury in 2015. The Chiefs have a weakness at inside linebacker, and Johnson can hold down the fort for now. His presence is important for the Chiefs going forward.
Notable Omission: Tamba Hali is an obvious name to come up, but Ford and Houston were already picked. There are young names to watch on the edge for the Chiefs, which makes Hali’s omission more understandable. Leaving off Laurent Duvernay-Tardiff is tough, but three offensive linemen are on the list and it’s hard to allocate most of the protections to one area. Safety Ron Parker is another notable here, but keeping Berry and Peters is enough. There are enough young receivers to leave Chris Conley off the list, especially because Tyreek Hill is exempt.
Who would make your list? Comment below or find me on Twitter.
— Jake Schyvinck is a Managing Editor for cover32 and covers the Kansas City Chiefs. You can follow him on Twitter here.