The folks on Twitter are going to kill me for this.
In light of yesterday’s events, however, it is important to point out that the Kansas City Chiefs might still select QB Geno Smith with the #1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL Draft.
There are many reasons why I think this is still a possibility but first let us review the arguments for why Smith to KC at No. 1 won’t happen.
The Chiefs reportedly have agreed to trade their 2013 second-round pick, as well as a 2014 third-round pick that could become a second-round pick based on conditions, to the San Francisco 49ers for QB Alex Smith. All reports indicate that the Chiefs are making a significant investment in Alex Smith and that he will be the team’s QB for the foreseeable future.
I admit, that is a pretty strong argument against the Chiefs taking Geno Smith. But there are also arguments to be made that selecting Smith might still be a good idea.
And I am going to make them.
1. The Chiefs still haven’t invested heavily enough in the QB position
Sorry, but they haven’t. Two second-round picks may seem like a heavy investment but when it comes to the most important position in the game, two second-rounders is nothing. Also, don’t forget that the second pick is a conditional pick that is likely based on playing time for Alex Smith or wins for the Chiefs. There is also a chance the 49ers are giving something back to the Chiefs that we haven’t heard about yet, like a later-round pick.
Regardless of the compensation, the Chiefs are barren at QB. They need three of them. I know a lot of Chiefs fans are pro-Ricky Stanzi but in two years, Ricky Stanzi hasn’t been able to unseat Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn or Tyler Palko, all three of whom were awful. On top of all that, Stanzi has looked terrible in the preseason. He simply can’t be relied upon. He may well have a good career in the NFL but we’ve seen nothing to indicate that he will.
Lastly, head coach Andy Reid and GM John Dorsey seem to be too smart to put all their eggs in one QB’s basket. Grabbing a proven veteran in Smith was smart but the KC brass has to know they need a young QB of the future. Smith is coming to KC on a two-year contract. There are no guarantees Smith will perform well and there are no guarantees he will stick around.
Doubling down on the most important position on the team would be a wise move, not a foolish one.
2. Geno Smith could be very good but he may not be ready to start right away
Draft experts are fond of saying that there isn’t a QB worthy of the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft. Perhaps they are right. Perhaps Geno Smith is the best QB in this draft but that doesn’t mean he is ready to be an NFL starter.
Dorsey was part of the group that selected Aaron Rodgers in the first round of the draft and then sat him on the bench behind Brett Favre. Would Rodgers have had the same success he is currently enjoying if the Packers started him from day one? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
In the NFL of old, it used to be common practice to roll with veterans while your draft picks, even your #1 draft picks, spent a year or two or sometimes longer, learning from the sidelines. This was especially true when it came to QBs.
In today’s NFL, first-round picks are expected to come in and learn on the job. The thinking is that these players are talented enough to be selected in the first-round, they are talented enough to start.
Unfortunately, not all players are like that. Some rookies come in and set the NFL world on fire. Others, like Chiefs OLB Justin Houston, need a few games before they really start to show what they can do.
What if Reid and Dorsey really like Geno Smith but just don’t think he is ready to start yet? What if they think forcing Smith into action too early would ruin him? Does that mean they should just pass on him and let him go to a competitor?
The NFL is a win-now business. Dorsey and Reid are getting paid millions of dollars to win football games right now. They can’t afford to wait on Geno Smith to lead the Chiefs to another 2-14 season so that he can learn on the job.
But trading for Alex Smith means that they don’t have to.
I find it funny that nobody seems to be talking about the possibility that the Chiefs are employing a similar strategy to the one the 49ers and their head coach Jim Harbaugh used with Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick.
When Harbaugh arrived in San Fran, it was a popular belief that Alex Smith was on his way out. Instead, the 49ers kept Smith on board and selected Kaepernick in the second-round of the draft.
But Harbaugh didn’t rush Kaepernick into action. Instead, he maximized Alex Smith’s ability and coached his new team to the NFC Championship game and nearly the Super Bowl. Then, he re-signed Alex Smith.
Think about that.
Harbaugh drafted Kaepernick with a second-round and then re-signed a different QB to a three-year contract. Harbaugh could have let Alex Smith walk and continued on with Kaepernick. But he didn’t. He was patient and he ensured his team had more than one serviceable QB.
Nobody thought that Colin Kaepernick would be starting for the 49ers in 2012 season. Well, except for maybe Jim Harbaugh.
Harbaugh is a good coach. Not just because he was able to maximize Alex Smith’s ability but because he was able to recognize the ability of Colin Kaepernick. Harbaugh was patient enough and a good enough of a coach to win with Smith until Kaep was ready and then he had the stones to pull Smith when he felt the time was right.
Andy Reid and Dorsey could do the same thing by investing a second-round pick or two in Alex Smith while they develop Geno Smith. If Alex Smith leads the Chiefs back to a winning culture and then in a couple of years, Geno Smith leads the Chiefs to multiple Super Bowls and all it cost was a first-round pick and two second-round picks, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone claiming the Chiefs spent too much on QBs.
3. The Chiefs might want to trade back…but can’t
Now that the Chiefs have locked up LT Branden Albert, you can almost hear draft analyst’s heads exploding across the nation.
Until yesterday the draft narrative was that no QB was worth the first overall pick and that the best the Chiefs could do is select one of the top tackles, likely Luke Joeckel out of Texasn A&M.
The Chiefs don’t need a tackle. They have Albert, Eric Winston and Donald Stephenson. The team also has Rodney Hudson, Jon Asamoah and Jeff Allen on the interior. The previous regime invested heavily in the offensive line and unless the new regime thinks some of those players are busts, they have a young offensive line with a fair amount of depth.
So what position is left? CB? DT?
Defensive line could be a possibility. The Chiefs could be losing both Glenn Dorsey and Tyson Jackson. Unfortunately for the Chiefs, the top defensive lineman are interior players and the Chiefs just drafted NT Dontari Poe a year ago. Poe wasn’t a force in 2012 but he certainly wasn’t bad enough to warrant replacing him.
There have been plenty of experts suggesting that the Chiefs might want to trade back but who, in their right mind, would want to trade up? Most experts agree there isn’t a single player in this draft that separates himself from the pack and that there isn’t much difference between the first pick and the 15th pick.
There is some team out there that is bound to want Geno Smith. Probably one of the teams in the top ten. But if all of those teams believe the Chiefs are going to pass on a QB, they may be willing to roll the dice that Smith will fall to them.
Teams don’t typically trade up for the No. 1 pick. It just isn’t something that happens and the risk is too great.
What has happened, however, is that teams have sometimes drafted a player No. 1 only to turn around and trade him.
The Chiefs could consider selecting the draft’s best QB in Smith at No.1 and they could then dangle him to the highest bidder. Sure, the Chiefs might not get as much value as they’d like for the #1 pick but chances are the Chiefs won’t be getting good value no matter what they do. It is doubtful any team will want to trade up in this draft and if the Chiefs can get just as talented a player at No. 10 as they can at No. 1, then all they are doing by picking first is paying more money for their draft pick than the teams behind them.
Taking Smith and then offering him up for a trade would enable the Chiefs and potential trade partners to let the draft play out a bit. It would be an unexpected move that could cause some teams to panic, perhaps creating a run on QB’s in the top ten. That would increase Smith’s value, enabling the Chiefs to deal him, still get a good player and perhaps pick up a second round pick in the process.
If the other teams call the Chiefs on their bluff and KC gets stuck with Smith, well, as we discussed above, that may not be such a bad thing.
* * *
The good news is that the Chiefs are in the driver’s seat and locking up Bowe and Albert put them there. If KC can fill some other needs with some smart free agency signings, they can do pretty much whatever they want in the 2013 NFL Draft.
Including selecting a QB in the first round.