Off-Season Outlook - Quarterback

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First off, I’d like to offer my apologies for not dropping in with my column for the past two weeks. Things were a bit hectic, and given the Chiefs absolute inability to do anything right on the field, I decided to not pile on any more negativity with my own thoughts.

It’s with that in mind, that I decided to take the Fanatic Focus in a slightly different direction for the remainder of the season. Instead of posting a editorial piece on the Chiefs and/or their players, I want to begin to look ahead to what the Chiefs will do in the off-season; most importantly what they will do during the NFL Draft.

As you all know by now, the Chiefs season is essentially finished. There will be no miraculous late season run to playoffs or anything of the sort for Herm Edwards’ kids. So Adam, Zach, and I all think it makes sense to start analyzing potential draft prospects for the Chiefs and focus on how this team is going to improve by next year, instead of cracking down on every negative, which is something we’ve all done for the past year or so.

I’m going to start this week off with the most important position on the field for the Chiefs – quarterback –  and then work my way through the position groups as the season progresses. Hopefully by season’s end, we’ll have a complete bible of sorts that outlays what the Chiefs strategy should be headed into the off-season at each position.

So without further adieu, let’s get this party started shall we?

Quarterback

Current KC Chiefs roster

  • Tyler Thigpen
  • Quinn Gray
  • Ingle Martin
  • Brodie Croyle (IR)
  • Damon Huard (IR)

Top Five 2009 Free-Agents

  • Jeff Garcia (Tampa Bay)
  • J.P. Losman (Buffalo)
  • Kyle Boller (Baltimore)
  • Kurt Warner (Arizona)
  • Matt Cassel (New England)

Top Five Draft Prospects – * signifies underclassman

  • Matt Stafford (Georgia) *
  • Sam Bradford (Oklahoma) *
  • Tim Tebow (Florida) *
  • Curtis Painter (Purdue)
  • Cullen Harper (Clemson)

Analysis

This has been a tough year for the Chiefs at the quarterback spot, as they’ve watched both Brodie Croyle and Damon Huard go down with season ending injuries. Tyler Thigpen played extraordinarily well last week in New York, at times looking more like Brett Favre then Favre himself, but looked completely lost in week 3 against Atlanta, so he’s going to need to show more consistency if he wants to win a starting job outright.

The Chiefs will likely take a long look at the possibility of signing a veteran free-agent QB to manage the offense for them next year, however I expect them to continue on with their mantra of sticking with young players over signing high-priced vets. That narrows the playing field significantly when it comes to which free-agent targets they may go after, knocking both Jeff Garcia and Kurt Warner out of the mix.

The most logical free-agent signing at QB for the Chiefs would be Buffalo Bills QB J.P. Losman. Losman has played very well for most of his career in Buffalo, however he has had a fair amount of injury concerns, which led the Bills to go with Trent Edwards as their young QB of the future instead of Losman. He may come with a steeper asking price then the Chiefs would prefer to pay given his age, other intangible skills, and the lack of quality players at the position available on the market. That being said, the Chiefs will almost certainly explore a deal with him in the off-season, as he would provide significant experience as well as talent at the QB spot, which is something they’ve truly lacked in recent years.

Kyle Boller and Matt Cassel also provide similar amounts of experience, but their talent level falls far short of what Losman brings to the table in my opinion. Both QBs could be on the radar for the Chiefs though, given their youth and cost to sign, so I’m not counting them out just yet.

As for the draft, the Chiefs will most definitely have their eyes firmly focused on improving the QB position by using one or more draft picks on a top-notch signal caller come April 26-27, 2009. The most popular opinion is that the Chiefs will use their likely top five selection to grab a player like Matt Stafford, who projects to be top 10 pick and could go as high as number one overall.

The Chiefs could also package their top five pick and trade down in order to select a player like Tim Tebow late in round one, or go with senior QBs like Curtis Painter and Cullen Harper in round two. I expect that to happen for sure if the Chiefs are successful in signing one of the aforementioned free-agents to play QB for the next two or three seasons. That move would also set the team up for future success, as they would be able to acquire a sigificant amount of draft picks in the process, allowing the Chiefs front office to stockpile talent at key positions instead of focusing on one spot at a time.

The real intriguing possibility would come if Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford decides to declare at the end of this season instead of returning to school as most believe he will. Bradford would easily shoot to the top of the list if he did declare, as he has every single attribute teams crave when it comes to drafting a quarterback. If he is available when the Chiefs select in the top five next spring, you can put the money in the bank that they’ll snatch him up immediately, as he is a legitimate QB prospect that will undoubtedly become a fixture in the Pro-Bowl very soon for one lucky team.

All in all, I think the Chiefs will likely go to camp next year with a bevy of new faces in the QB spot. Whether it’s through free-agency or the draft, the Chiefs know full well that they have to make a major move this off-season to improve their QB play if they’ll have any shot at taking the next step towards a reappearance in the playoffs anytime soon.

Simply standing pat with Tyler Thigpen, Brodie Croyle, and Quinn Gray at quarterback won’t cut it any longer, and I think the Chiefs are wise to the concept that by adding a premier talent at QB via free-agency or the draft, the fans will come back to the team, driving up excitement and lining the pockets of the team with large amounts of cash.

As they say, money talks, so expect a major move by the Chiefs this year to get it flowing once again at Arrowhead next fall.

Chris Kolb is the owner and lead writer for KCChiefsFanatic.com

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