Chiefs Will Choose Their Own Adventure
By James Jennings
The Chiefs hold the first pick of the NFL Draft, which typically means they sit in the catbird’s seat. The problem is that this year’s draft is not most drafts.
There’s nothing sexy about the 2013 draft class. There is certainly no clear-cut No. 1 pick — no Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning or Eli Manning waiting to become the savior of the worst team in the NFL. That’s not to say there are no good players this year — just no obvious superstars.
So what do you do when you hold the top pick of a draft that features no true No. 1 pick? The Chiefs are on the clock and it is quickly ticking down to 8 p.m. ET April 25. What options do they have?
Trade The Pick
Logic would have the Chiefs trade out of the top spot. After all, if there is no one who is head and shoulders the best player in the draft, why not trade out and build up some later picks in what has been described as a deep draft?
The problem with that plan is that in order to trade out of the top pick, the Chiefs would need a dancing partner — someone who wants to trade INTO the top slot. If the Chiefs don’t see an obvious No. 1 pick, it stands to reason that no other teams see one either.
Chances of the Chiefs trading out of the top spot: Pretty much zero, but not for lack of trying.
The 2012 Chiefs ranked dead-last in the NFL in total offense, although they managed to be ranked sixth in rushing offense. They also ranked last in points scored. If the Chiefs don’t want to be picking first next year, they need to find a way to revive an offense that was essentially DOA in 2012.
Offensive tackle Luke Joeckel out of Texas A&M is considered by many draft experts to be the best player in the draft — and probable No. 1 pick. Another possibility is Eric Fisher from Central Michigan.
Both Joeckel and Fisher could easily be plugged into the left tackle position. However, the Chiefs already have a starting left tackle, Branden Albert, who is also their best player on the line.
They signed Albert to a one-year franchise deal, but he is seeking a long-term deal. Albert is reported to be unhappy with a one-year contract, a point he emphasized by announcing he was skipping the team’s voluntary OTAs this month.
That has led to rumors that the Chiefs are shopping him in hopes of getting something in return, rather than allowing him to bolt in free agency after the 2013 season.
The Chiefs could also hold onto Albert for a season, and move him to right tackle to replace Eric Winston, who was a surprise release by the team.
Chances that the Chiefs use the top pick to bolster the offensive line: Most likely scenario considering that Joeckel and Fisher are two of the top players in this draft class.
Led by Pro Bowl safety Eric Berry, the Chiefs’ pass defense was surprisingly stout in 2012, ranking eighth in the NFL. The run defense, though, was another story (24th in the league). The team has also made some solid free agent signings — cornerbacks Dunta Robinson (Atlanta) and Sean Smith (Miami).
The Kansas City linebacking corps is quite stout with Tamba Hali and Derrick Johnson. That leaves the defensive line. Last year, the Chiefs picked nose tackle Donari Poe in the first round. His 38 tackles on the 2012 season did not make him look much like a first rounder though.
Sharrif Floyd of Florida and Ezekiel Ansah of Brigham Young are the top two defensive ends in the draft. Either player would provide a significant upgrade to the KC defensive line. Floyd is a better run defender, while Ansah has demonstrated more explosiveness.
Chances of the Chiefs going with a defensive lineman with the first overall pick: Unlikely but not out of the realm of possibility.
It’s no secret that the quarterback position in Kansas City has been, at best, subpar over the past several years. Flop after flop has lined up under center for the Chiefs.
The Chiefs traded for former No. 1 pick Alex Smith, who was made dispensable in San Francisco with the meteoric rise of Colin Kaepernick. Is Smith the quarterback of the future for the Chiefs? New head coach Andy Reid has not tipped his hand regarding the long-term plans for Smith. At this point, Reid probably doesn’t even have a hand to tip.
One thing is clear, though. There is no quarterback in this draft class worthy of being picked No. 1. In fact, there is even the possibility that no quarterback will be picked at all in the first round. That’s doubtful, though, only because every year, some team overreaches for a skill player.
Most likely, Reid will use a later round pick to grab a project quarterback.
Chances of the Chiefs choosing a quarterback first overall: If Reid and new GM John Dorsey blow the first overall pick on a quarterback in this draft, their tenures in KC could be much shorter than expected.
Despite what they may say publicly, Dorsey and Reid would jump at the chance to trade out of the top overall pick. That, however, is unlikely to happen.
It would be a coin toss between offense and defense for many teams in a similar situation. What tips the scales toward a pick for a player on offense boils down to the fact that Reid is an offensive-minded coach with a pass-first mentality. That would mean making it a priority to upgrade the offensive line to better protect Smith.
The Pick: The Chiefs make the safe, logical pick and go with Joeckel.