ESPN released their futures power rankings today two weeks ahead of the start of training camp. You can read the full rankings on their site but you should know that Insider access is required to read the link.
Kansas City ends up being ranked 14th on the list, good enough for a third place finish in the AFC West. Denver is ranked fourth in the entire future rankings and first in the AFC, which seems odd given the age of Peyton Manning and how important he is to their overall performance. San Diego is second in the division and ninth in the rankings, while Oakland finished dead last.
Here’s a bit of what ESPN had to say about the Chiefs:
"Kansas City dropped only two spots overall from the past offseason, despite falling an average of 9.3 in non-QB roster, drafting and the front office. If the Chiefs’ decisions to let veteran free agents such as Branden Albert and Geoff Schwartz depart pan out, GM John Dorsey and the front office will appear to have been a disciplined bunch. If the Chiefs fall off precipitously, the team will likely be faulted for inaction. Has the Chiefs’ outlook improved? QB Alex Smith remains without a contract extension for now, but an extension for him probably wouldn’t move the needle much. Kansas City came in 19th at QB in these future rankings, not far off its No. 24 ranking one year ago."
There are a few things to talk about here with these rankings.
First, who in the world would associate the Chiefs with inaction under John Dorsey if the Chiefs were to fall off over the next few seasons? The Chiefs have almost completely flipped their roster in one calendar year, traded two second round picks for a quarterback, were one of the most active teams in free agency in 2013, and found pieces like Marcus Cooper at random times throughout the course of the year. So because the Chiefs didn’t have enough cap room to sign two average right guards, a disastrous defensive line fit, an overvalued Dexter McCluster, and overpaid Branden Albert the Chiefs are suddenly inactive?
It will be interesting to see what is said next season when the Chiefs have 11 draft picks (estimated), more cap flexibility, and have deals done with Justin Houston and Alex Smith. How active will they be considered then?
Second, the ranking of Alex Smith at 19th is ridiculous. No, he’s not some elite quarterback who deserves to be considered a top level quarterback. But he does have three-straight seasons of very productive football and is still in his prime. At the very least he is a top 15 quarterback who could flirt with the top 10. Quarterbacks listed ahead of Smith include Robert Griffin III, Nick Foles, Sam Bradford, and Jay Cutler.
Third, Kansas City should be in a better spot a year from now after they have settled some unanswered questions. Smith and Houston’s contracts should be done, they’ll have added a bunch of depth in the draft, we’ll have a better understanding of 2013 draft class in addition to seeing how the 2014 class fits with the team, and the Chiefs will have the opportunity to add a player or two in free agency.
One would assume much of the roster concerns with the Chiefs are based on the unknowns. We know who Albert and Brandon Flowers were but we don’t have much of an idea of what Phillip Gaines and Sanders Commings can or will be as a players. We may also come to understand how the unknown players fit better in the system the Chiefs are running than the big name players they lost. If you believe the scheme fits are better and the talent is there than the overall rankings for the roster, general manager, and draft will improve significantly.