The Kansas City Chiefs endured one of the most trying seasons in recent memory in 2012. They had almost no production from three different quarterbacks, and they suffered a horrible tragedy, with the suicide of linebacker Jovan Belcher. Former Head Coach Romeo Crennel just could not find an escape from the roller coaster he was on last season with the Chiefs.
Ten times last season, the Chiefs failed to score more than one touchdown. Kansas City ranked 32nd in the league in scoring, with a dismal 13.2 points per game. They also can take credit for the worst passing attack in football as well, ranking 32nd in that category too. What’s troubling about the struggles in Kansas City, is that they are not too far removed from being AFC West Champions, and boasting a 10-6 record to go along with that.
Matt Cassel was not good, and that’s putting it very lightly. This past season, where Cassel only played in 9 games, marks the second consecutive season that the one deemed “franchise” quarterback of the Chiefs has not finished, or played in a complete 16 game season. If your quarterback has durability concerns, that is a major red flag for a guy you paid tons of money to build your future around. Since 2011, Cassel has only thrown 16 touchdowns to 21 interceptions. There is no bigger need in Kansas City than a quarterback, and no one is debating that. However, when you look at the quarterback class in the 2013 NFL Draft, there is no one name that stands out as a “franchise” quarterback. Geno Smith of West Virginia is the top rated quarterback in this years draft among most scouts and draft experts around the league. While Smith very well could go 1st overall, many around the league feel you can get more value at number one and trade back up into the first round and get the quarterback of your choice there.
In comes Andy Reid, former Head Coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. Reid’s 14 year tenure in Philadelphia came to an abrupt halt after posting a 4-12 record, with a team that was poised for a playoff run before the season had started. While some will place the blame on Reid for mismanaging his roster, by signing overvalued talent to top dollar contracts, you cannot ignore Reid’s overall success in the league. Reid had 10 playoff appearances with the Eagles, while appearing in a Super Bowl in 2005. Reid is respected around the league for his ability to develop quarterbacks that will succeed in his west coast system.
If Chiefs fans think that Andy Reid isn’t bold enough to go against the grain, and select a quarterback first overall, when there is clearly better value available, think again. In 1999, Reid’s first season at the helm in Philadelphia, nearly every draft expert and scout took then Texas running back, and Heisman Winner Ricky Williams off of their draft boards, with the expectation that Reid would select the highly touted back 2nd overall. Reid shocked the league, and Philadelphia fans by selecting Donavan McNabb with his first draft choice as Eagles Head Coach. We all know McNabb wasn’t welcomed immediately in Philadelphia, but is now remembered as the main ingredient for Reid’s long term success in the city of brotherly love.
Looking ahead to the 2013 NFL Draft, the Chiefs are in a great spot at 1st overall. Their biggest need is quarterback, but they can get away with taking a player in the first round at a different position who holds more value, and finding “their guy” in the late first round, or the second round. The Chiefs also need offensive line help, with the retirement of Ryan Lilja, as well as the pending free agency of left tackle Branden Albert. There is concern that Albert may not return to the Chiefs, for many reasons. Albert wants top dollar, as he feels he is a top 5 tackle in the NFL, however, Albert has durability issues, and the Chiefs could go younger by drafting an offensive lineman in april, and will save themselves a tremendous amount of cap space.
If the Chiefs choose to ignore their needs at quarterback, and offensive line in round one, they can opt to select an interior defensive lineman, or a playmaking defensive back, or safety. I don’t see the Chiefs, or Reid specifically, choosing to ignore the two most important needs on offense with the 1st overall selection. Many mock drafts I’ve seen have Geno Smith going first overall, and that’s hard to debate. Smith is the top quarterback in what can be considered a weak class, and nearly fits the mold perfectly for what type of quarterback Reid likes to run his offense with. I understand that a new coach would like to build his team around the quarterback he likes, rather than work with one that’s already on the roster.
With that said, the Chiefs would almost be crippling their rebuilding process by not selecting Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel with the first pick. Joeckel compares very well to the Vikings’ Matt Khalil. Joeckel is the premier offensive lineman in this years draft, and could be a cornerstone in Kansas City for well over a decade. I’m not drafting anyone with the 1st overall pick in April, but it would sour me, and more than surprise me to see Andy Reid and the Chiefs pass up on a book end tackle like Joeckel and reach for a quarterback who could fall, and be available to them later in round one, or possibly even in round two, where Kansas City picks 33rd overall.