KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas City Chiefs have nine rookies on their regular-season roster -- four on offense and five on defense. I looked at the expectations for their offensive rookies in an earlier post. Here, I’ll take a look at those for their defensive rookies.
CB Marcus Peters, first round, Washington: He will be the first defensive rookie to start the season opener for the Chiefs since Andy Reid arrived as coach in 2013. The Chiefs are asking Peters to be more than a starter. With Sean Smith serving a season-opening three-game NFL suspension, Peters is their No. 1 cornerback at least until Smith returns. Peters looked in training camp like he was ready to handle that burden. He played that well. But the regular season is different, and it will be interesting to see how he handles it. The Chiefs were last in the NFL in interceptions in 2014, and they’re counting on Peters to make a difference there. He was by far the team leader in interceptions in training camp.
CB Steven Nelson, third round, Oregon State: Other than on special teams, Nelson doesn’t have a defined role. Even with Smith out, he won’t be one of the Chiefs’ top three cornerbacks. When Smith returns, that should push him down the list again. So unless there’s an injury or he makes dramatic improvement, Nelson looks more like a special-teams player as a rookie.
LB Ramik Wilson, fourth round, Georgia: Wilson filled in nicely for the injured Josh Mauga during the preseason. The Chiefs will begin the season with Mauga as a starter, as long as he’s healthy. But Wilson’s time is coming. It might not be this season, with Derrick Johnson and Mauga ahead of him at inside linebacker. Wilson may be mostly a special-teamer as a rookie, but he’ll be a starter, sooner or later.
LB D.J. Alexander, fifth round, Oregon State: Alexander is an inside linebacker like Wilson, and he’s behind Wilson in line for playing time. So there won’t be much for Alexander. He’s also going to play mostly on special teams, and that’s if he's active on game day. That doesn’t look like a certainty.
DL Rakeem Nunez-Roches, sixth round, Southern Mississippi: Nunez-Roches is a developmental prospect who doesn’t look like he will make it into uniform much on game days. That could change, though, if he improves or injuries strike others ahead of him on the depth chart.