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Keep these positions in mind when Chiefs draft

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When it comes to preparing their roster for the 2017 season, the Kansas City Chiefs aren’t locked in at too many positions in the upcoming draft. They can use help at some positions, most notably running back, but otherwise can line up and be competitive at many spots without adding players through the draft.

But when it comes to getting ready for the 2018 season, the Chiefs will have some work to do in this year’s draft. The Chiefs will have some holes to fill next year and it will be a surprise if they don’t at least try to address those with some of their 10 picks.

Here are the spots where the Chiefs could be short next year:

Quarterback: Alex Smith is the only one of the three quarterbacks under contract who is signed beyond next season. That makes this the perfect time for the Chiefs to draft a quarterback. Smith’s contract expires at the end of the 2018 season.

Defensive line: The Chiefs signed free agent Bennie Logan to replace the departed Dontari Poe. But Logan signed for just one year so he’s a potential free agent next year. Another defensive lineman, Jaye Howard, also has a contract that expires at the end of the season. The possibility of losing two of their top four players at this position at the end of next season almost guarantees the Chiefs will draft a defensive lineman this year.

Cornerback: Three of last season’s top five players are up next season. Included are Phillip Gaines, a part-time starter, and Terrance Mitchell, who played well after getting a chance late last season. The other corner with an expiring contract is Kenneth Acker. The Chiefs also have Marcus Peters, Steven Nelson and D.J. White, who are all signed through at least 2018.

Linebacker Dee Ford, kicker Cairo Santos, punter Dustin Colquitt and guard Zach Fulton are other possible significant free agents for the Chiefs next year. But the Chiefs can keep Ford, their first-round draft pick in 2014, by exercising the fifth-year option on his rookie contract. Santos, currently a restricted free agent, would be a free agent next year if he signs the one-year contract offer the Chiefs have extended to him.