As we told you in today’s Morning Fix, Chiefs offensive coordinator, Charlie Weiss, had a one on one dinner with Central Michigan quarterback Dan LeFevour. LeFevour is projected to be a 3rd round draft prospect.
Was the dinner anything more than the Chiefs doing their due diligence? I don’t think so. Sending scouts to workouts to do due diligence is one thing. Sending your offensive coordinator to have dinner with a potential 3rd round QB, is something else entirely.
The fact that the Chiefs are looking at QB’s does not mean they have given up on Matt Cassel. If they really thought Cassel was a bust they would most likely be making a play for Notre Dame and Charlie Weis product, Jimmy Clausen in the first round. The Chiefs could easily give up one of their two second round picks to trade up to the Lions slot to ensure they could grab Clausen at #2. He might even be available when the Chiefs pick at #5, which could offer them a very good chance to trade back but that is a topic for another column.
While I don’t think the Chiefs have given up on Matt Cassel I believe they aren’t entirely sold on him either. The truth is, they shouldn’t be.
I am a big Matt Cassel supporter. I ordered his jersey for a discounted rate from China. It will be better for all Chiefs fans if he succeeds and continues to improve but we all know it is dangerous to put all your eggs in one basket, especially in the NFL.
Scott Pioli wisely front-loaded Cassel’s contract so that if he turns into an utter failure, the Chiefs can dump him without too much of a cap hit. The Chiefs are invested in Cassel but not so much so that they can’t pull out their money and put it into another stock if they have to.
That is where a guy like LeFevour comes in. He is a perfect project QB. He isn’t ready to start in the NFL yet but most scouts believe he has the tools to succeed. He also has enough talent to keep him from falling into the deeper rounds of the draft. LeFevour is another example of the low risk, high reward type of deals Scott Pioli is so fond of.
If the Chiefs were to take LeFevour in the 3rd round, they would send a strong message to Cassel that he needs to continue to improve, while also buying themselves an insurance policy if he doesn’t. Unless he has a complete and utter meltdown, I expect the Chiefs to give Cassel another year or two to prove he is their guy before they yank him.
The key here is that Cassel must get better along with the team. Last season it was easy to point to deficiencies in the defense, offensive line, receivers and L.J.’s poor first half performance as factors that held Cassel back. That may very well be true. If it is, as the Chiefs improve, so will Cassel, however, if Pioli keeps adding weapons and Cassel’s numbers stay similar to that of the 2009 season, the Chiefs need a backup plan.
I think the Chiefs really like Brodie Croyle but I don’t think they see him as anything other than a quality backup. The Chiefs should feel that Croyle can come in and successfully manage games for them if Cassel were to go down for a short period of time but I don’t believe they think he can be their guy should Cassel fail.
If Cassel succeeds and the Chiefs have LeFevour sitting 2nd or 3rd on their depth chart, they will likely be able to trade him for at least the same 3rd round pick they him drafted for, if not a higher pick. After all, LeFevour is likely to benefit greatly by learning under Charlie Weis and his stock could actually rise a little, even if he doesn’t play very much.
The flaw in taking LeFevour is that the Chiefs have too many needs to waste a 3rd round pick on an insurance policy for Cassel. Sure, QB is the most important position on the team but no signal caller is likely to succeed in KC without more upgrades on both offense and defense. It just wouldn’t make sense for the Chiefs to take LeFevour if they only had one 3rd round pick. But what if they had two 3rd round picks?
The Chiefs currently have three 5th round selections, one of which is very high because they pick near the top of each round. The Chiefs could potentially package a couple of their 5th round choices or even some 2011 picks, to trade back in to the 3rd round.
There is a much better chance that the Chiefs will get 2 quality players in the 3rd round than they will get 3 quality players in the 5th round.
The best outcome for Kansas City would be that Pioli improves the team and Weis helps to develop Cassel into the Chiefs franchise QB. There is a ton of upside to Cassel right now. He has the right build for an NFL QB. He has shown toughness and leadership. He is on an ascending team with the best possible coaching staff he could hope to have in his corner. He has a couple of talented receivers and two explosive running backs to keep defenders honest. He has 2 years starting experience. He is about to turn 28 and is going into the years that are usually prime for QB’s.
Cassel was dealt a bad hand in 2009 but the deck is stacked in his favor in 2010. There will be no excuses if he fails this year.
And the Chiefs should be ready if he does.