With the Kansas City Chiefs' first game of the 2021 campaign quickly approaching, the team's first unofficial depth chart of the season has been released.
Unofficial depth charts do not come from Chiefs coaches nor higher-ups within the executive staff of the organization — they serve as rough outlines of what the ensuing week's lineup may look like. While these lists can't be taken as completed final plans, they generally serve as decent indicators of what the actual depth chart is.
Here are a few noteworthy takeaways from the Chiefs' unofficial depth chart: Week 1 edition.
Three rookies on the first-team offensive line is a serious thing
It appears that the Chiefs' starting offensive line from the preseason — Orlando Brown Jr., Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith and Lucas Niang — is a full-go for the regular season as well. The probability of Humphrey and Smith starting grew higher and higher heading into training camp, then injuries to Laurent Duvernay-Tardif and Kyle Long allowed Smith to burst through a door that was already partially ajar.
At right tackle, Niang is returning after opting out of the 2020 season and remains a rookie in technicality. Mike Remmers' back injury allowed him to step up, and he performed well in the preseason. He looks to maintain the starting nod throughout the year alongside the team's new-look offensive line.
Demarcus Robinson remains a clear part of the Chiefs' plans
Despite the complaints of many Chiefs fans, Demarcus Robinson figures to remain a key depth piece within the Chiefs' receiving corps. Robinson likely won't be participating much on special teams, but he's listed as a second-team wide receiver and could be the third option at that position behind Tyreek Hill and Mecole Hardman.
Byron Pringle has shown flashes in the past and both Daurice Fountain and Marcus Kemp played well in the preseason, but Robinson has established a clear floor and rapport with Patrick Mahomes that cannot be ignored. He'll get opportunities to shine, at least until he proves he isn't worthy of them relative to his peers.
Nick Bolton isn't going to overtake Ben Niemann... yet
With linebacker Willie Gay Jr. on injured reserve due to a toe injury, many were hoping that 2021 second-round draft pick Nick Bolton would be receiving his snaps. While that may be partially true in the Chiefs' base package, veteran Ben Niemann will see his snaps increase as well and is likely to be the dime linebacker when the team is facing obvious passing situations.
Bolton is a smart player who should adjust quicker than Gay did last year, but Niemann has a high level of understanding when it comes to Steve Spagnuolo's defense and the team historically prefers him over some other options at the position. It may not always be pretty, but Niemann will be the team's No. 2 linebacker until gay is healthy.
Juan Thornhill is still getting the backup treatment
It was an up-and-down preseason for safety Juan Thornhill, who showed up to camp proclaiming himself healthy before suffering a groin injury and seeing his play slip a bit. He recovered before it was all said and done, though, and came up with a highlight-reel interception that drew praise from head coach Andy Reid. Unfortunately, he's still listed as the third safety on the team.
In an ideal world, Thornhill is able to overtake Daniel Sorensen on the depth chart within the first few weeks of the season. The latter is a wily veteran who is a heady player in his own right, but he doesn't offer the upside nor athleticism that Thornhill does. The expectation is that at some point, the Chiefs can boast one of the NFL's best safety duos in Thornhill and Tyrann Mathieu. That can't happen with Thornhill playing the third-most snaps at the position, so keep an eye on that as the season unfolds.