OK, so here’s the scoop. I’ve been catching a ton of flak for drafting Darren McFadden for the Chiefs with the fifth pick in my latest mock draft. I don’t think most Chiefs fans are understanding where I am going with all of this.
First off, I didn’t do any trades and won’t do any trades when it comes to my mocks. I have enough knowledge of the Chiefs to accurately assess their draft and team needs, but I would be giving you misinformation if I tried to play GM any more than I already am with these other teams. It’s one thing to look at a team’s holes and the best players available, then make a match. It’s a completely different thing to pretend to know which of their players they value the most, their trade policies, their cap situation, etc. The list goes on and on.
That is why I took him. Because if we couldn’t trade down and Glenn Dorsey, Jake Long and Matt Ryan — three players who I think will be stars — are all gone, then he’s the surest bet on the board.
Is that pick an indictment of Larry Johnson? Absolutely not. It’s more of an indictment of Kolby Smith.
People can quote stats and say whatever they want about Smith. To me, the only stat that matters is that we were 0-6 in games he started. Look, I think Kolby Smith is a decent player and a great back-up running back, but nothing more. Personally, unless Larry Johnson takes himself out, I never want Smith in the game. There’s just too much of a drop off. I like him, but he’s got about as much explosiveness as a sparkler, when a run-run-run offense needs high-powered firecrackers.
Back to Johnson. He needs to get 20 carries a game, but not 30, 35, 40 touches. That’s no way to protect our investment. Additionally, I don’t think he’s best suited to be used as a blocker more than he needs to be. A.) He’s not the greatest blocker in the world; and B.) He’s such a physical runner that we need to try and cut down his additional contact. Additionally, he’s a good receiver, but he’s not LaDanian Tomlinson or Reggie Bush. He’s most effective beating up the defense and getting into a rhythm as a runner. When he gets that kind of momentum against a worn-down defense, he’s downright unstoppable.
If we overuse L.J. — or if, God forbid, he goes down — then we could be up that foul-smelling creek without a paddle. A player like McFadden would be a great weapon on third down. He’d also keep Johnson fresh while not downgrading the offense with his involvement — and that’s on any down. He’d play MJD to Johnson’s Fred Taylor.
Even better, I think Run DMC is more versatile than MJD, or maybe even Reggie Bush. I see many scenarios where he and L.J. would both be on the field together. I can certainly see McFadden split out at receiver, or in the slot, or even under center every once in a while, especially in goalline situations. He could definitely return punts and kickoffs as well with his unique blend of speed and explosiveness.
What I’m getting to is those who are saying the Chiefs are doomed if we don’t pick an offensive lineman fifth overall need to wake up. That’s a very shortsighted POV. To be successful in today’s NFL — especially with a ball-control offense — you need to have two running backs you can count on to consistently produce offense. Remember, there is a great class of free agent offensive lineman out there, and we have 10 picks, including two of the top 36 for sure. We have the resources to revamp our offensive line and secondary even if we use our first pick elsewhere.
Besides, I don’t really see Darren McFadden as just a running back. There’s so many things that you can do with him. He’d add a dimension to our offense that no other team in the NFL could match. My only issue with picking McFadden isn’t the line. Folks, we are going to rebuild that line. My problem is giving all these weapons — McFadden, Dwayne Bowe, L.J. and Tony Gonzalez — to Brodie Croyle, with no real back-up plan. Kind of like putting a silk hat on a pig if you ask me, but I still haven’t given up on the kid yet. Maybe with a better line and the dimension Run DMC would add, he’d end up being the next David Garrard or Derek Anderson. Those guys improved when the talent around them did likewise.
Unless we could get a great trade, I’d stick at five and take either Dorsey, Long or Ryan ahead of McFadden if any of them were there. From what I’ve seen from this class so far, if those guys are gone we’d be fools to not either get a great trade or a player who will be one of the more explosive players in the league out of our stroke of good fortune. Last year, the Bucs and Lions both gaffed when they passed on Adrian Peterson after he fell into their laps. I don’t want to see us make the same mistake.
Here’s a nice highlight reel of McFadden: