I’m going to say this, and I’m going to keep saying this until proven otherwise: The Chiefs WILL take a quarterback in the first round of the NFL Draft.
It’s as simple as that. No ifs, ands, or buts.
Sure, some people will say you should never reach in the draft. Some will say it’s dumb to take anything other than ‘Best Player Available,’ to not become hijacked by your own team needs, and that Rome wasn’t built in a day so don’t draft a player for an immediate impact. Different teams have different draft strategies, and for most scenarios besides one, I hope the Chiefs try to follow those generic guidelines. That one exception I mentioned, however, is when it comes to the quarterback position.
We are all Chiefs fans, so I’ll spare you the embarrassing statistics and the depressing commentary on the state of the current Chiefs quarterback situation. Instead, I’ll sum it up with the following words: It’s bad.
I was not the least bit concerned, however, when I saw Todd McShay’s recent 1st round mock draft. After looking over it, I chuckled more than every time I see Mel Kiper’s hair. It featured Star Lotulelei from Utah going to the Chiefs with the number one pick, and not just one quarterback – Geno Smith – in the top 10, but one quarterback taken in the ENTIRE first round of the Draft. Not only is this nonsense, it’s also insulting to a fan’s intelligence.
Before you get all freaked out about a defensive tackle being taken with the first overall pick, let’s take a little stroll down memory lane. I will separate my points by bullets:
- McShay and Kiper are draft experts because they are PAID to be draft experts. That means they come out with about 100 of these things between now and then and they never seem to be the same from one to the next. They change when new information, 40 times, strengths, etc. are measured and assessed.
- McShay isn’t the end-all be-all on assessing quarterbacks in the first round and didn’t have Ryan Tannehill in the first round of last year’s draft until the very end of March when he miraculously made a jump to number 10 overall. Whether it’s because he finally accounted for the value of the position or actually took the time to watch some tape on Tannehill remains to be seen.
- Even draft “experts” make mistakes. Mike Mayock, a football and draft commentator for NFL Network and a source I’ve grown to enjoy, had Blaine Gabbert and Jake Locker as his top two quarterbacks of 2011 over Cam Newton before the NFL Combine. And that was BEFORE Cam looked awful at the throwing portion. Nonetheless, Cam went number one and is doing well while Gabbert was the third QB taken and has been … uh (realizes loyal Mizzou fans who read the blog will never accept that he is awful) … lackluster. Just makes you realize that the draft guys who actually work for NFL teams and not TV stations are probably pretty good.
- One quarterback taken in the first round of a modern day NFL draft is a laughable prediction. There has been no fewer than two quarterbacks taken in the first round of every draft since 2001 – Michael Vick . Four quarterbacks have gone in the first round of the last two drafts each. And for the frosting on the cake, the number one pick has gone to the quarterback position 8 of the last 10 drafts – Mario Williams and Jake Long being the two exceptions. This tendency probably has something to do with the trend of teams possessing the first overall pick having quarterback issues.
- I’ll go out on a limb and say that the Chiefs organization has never, in its long and illustrious history, needed a certain position addressed more than this team. If the Chiefs don’t end up with the first overall pick (they’d really have to screw that one up), they would still HAVE to take a quarterback in the first round, by either trading or taking one with their given selection.
Now that I have cleared that up, let’s talk about the quarterbacks. Mel Kiper tweeted out that North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon could be the first quarterback off the board while West Virginia’s Geno Smith looks to be the second quarterback taken. Aaron Murray could be heading back to Georgia, but his name has been floated around as a possible first round pick, and Tennessee’s Tyler Bray (who could also go back for his senior year) had a lot of fanfare before the season began. And while Arkansas’s Tyler Wilson didn’t live up to the hype this season (I blame that on coaching changes and an awful O-Line), I’d be surprised if he wasn’t a pick in the top half of the first round. But as talented as all those quarterbacks are/could be, if I was the General Manager of the Kansas City Chiefs (WHY HASN’T THAT HAPPENED YET?!), I would take USC’s Matt Barkley and not think twice about it. Once again, I will organize my thoughts about him and address concerns I’ve heard about him in bullet points below:
- Let me just go ahead and put a stop to all the illogical “I don’t want another quarterback named Matt from USC” statements being thrown around. It’s not Barkley’s fault that Matt Cassel has been a disappointment and it’s dumb to use that against him.
- Second, I want to address the issue of something else I’ve seen thrown around: that a USC quarterback has never won the Super Bowl. As odd as it sounds, that statement is correct. But once again, that is not Barkley’s fault. If these first two things I’ve addressed are actual reasons why you don’t want Barkley in Kansas City, you can go ahead and stop reading now.
- His height. The way some people talk about Barkley’s height you would think he’s a prominent character in the Hobbit. He is 6-2, which is shorter than your prototypical Brady/Manning-esque quarterback. He would also be the second shortest quarterback of the ones I mentioned above (Glennon and Bray are listed as 6-6, Smith and Wilson at 6-3, while Murray measures in at a minute 6-1). But you know who else is 6-2? Aaron Rodgers. And hasn’t Russell Wilson and Drew Brees almost put the death stake to the “too short to play quarterback” cliché yet? It’s just lazy.
- A sub-point! Height is not nearly as important as throwing motion. Barkley has always had a strong throwing motion with a high release point. In fact, I’d say Barkley’s release point is taller than Matt Stafford’s – listed at 6-3 – release point because of Stafford’s tendency to sidearm passes.
- I’ve heard Barkley doesn’t have a strong throwing arm. Who told you that? Was it Phil Simms, because he also said Andrew Luck didn’t have a big-time arm before last year’s draft. I don’t know where people are getting this idea. In fact, Barkley had more yards per attempt in 2012 than Geno Smith, Tyler Wilson, Mike Glennon, and Tyler Bray. In other words, more than all the other quarterbacks I mentioned except Aaron Murray. Why would the USC coaching staff trust Barkley to make the kind of throws that got him a high yards per attempt if they didn’t trust his arm? And even if it comes out in the combine or the Pro Day that Barkley can’t throw it 60 yards on his knees like JaMarcus Russell could (the gold standard of arm strength that didn’t mean a darn thing), he’s obviously got a strong enough arm to get the job done.
- At this point you might want to argue that his yards per attempt was more reflective of the talent around him – Robert Woods and Marquis Lee – than his own. Let me stop you there; you can’t convince me that his yards per attempt were based solely on those two’s yards after catch. I’m sure they created their share of big plays, but the law of averages dictates Barkley is mostly responsible for such a high YPA. Also, you can’t tell me that Geno Smith didn’t have two great receivers either in Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.
- Another expression I’m tired of hearing: upside. Geno Smith has more upside than Barkley. Tyler Wilson has more potential than Barkley. The only thing upside and potential means is that those players have shown the possibility of being good based off their tape. Most of the time, upside is based off the lack of tape, but from a small sample size, the players showed some flashes of greatness. In this case, Matt Barkley might be a victim of too much tape. He’s a four year starter at a highly regarded football institute, and people believe they’ve seen all they need to see. Well, while Barkley’s upside might not be as high as Smith, he’s also more of a sure thing. Potential for greatness also can result in potential unfulfilled. Barkley is more of a proven commodity.
- He ran a pro offense. Say what you want about the evolution of the NFL into a spread offense, but running a pro offense in college is still a plus when entering the pros. Geno Smith hasn’t taken a lot of snaps under center this season (a Big 12 tradition), and he can’t expect to operate out of shotgun on every play at the next level. And say what you want about Lane Kiffin, but he’s coached at the NFL level and knows a thing or two about quarterbacks (he DID think that JaMarcus was a bust after all) and how to prepare players for the next level of offense. Besides Tyler Wilson, who played under Bobby Petrino up until this season, Barkley has an advantage over the rest of the field because of that fact in my book.
- Yes, Barkley hasn’t had the season most analysts and probably even himself expected him to have this year, but he also hasn’t been bad. He threw for over 3,000 yards, completed 63.6% of his passes, and has 36 TDs compared to 15 INTs; and that was a down year. I think he would be the most likely pick to come in and make an immediate impact on this Chiefs team which is in danger of wasting the most productive years of its most talented players.
I think I’ve made my point about Matt Barkley being the Chiefs first round pick in 2013, but I must admit that it is not a sure thing. There is not the quarterback talent in this draft as there was in 2012. And while it seems predetermined that the Chiefs always get the short end of the stick, I think they would do well in taking Barkley. Does he have his flaws? Absolutely. Is he the next Andrew Luck? I doubt it. Will he help the Chiefs win and win now? I believe so. And at the end of the day, that’s what matters most for this team. Feel free to disagree with me in the comment section, but unless Barkley’s Combine and/or Pro Days are unmitigated disasters, I’m pretty set in my belief.