NFL Nation: Jusitn Houston

Expensive week for AFC West LBs

November, 16, 2012
11/16/12
5:30
PM ET
There were heavy fines levied against some AFC West defenders from Week 10 action.

A day after the Denver Post reported Broncos linebacker Von Miller (who has been fined at least $84,250 in his short NFL career) was fined $21,000 for a low hit on Carolina quarterback Cam Newton, the league said several other players from the division were fined.

Kansas City linebacker Tamba Hali was fined $25,000 for a helmet hit on Steelers’ quarterback Byron Leftwich in Pittsburgh on Monday night. Fellow Kansas City linebacker Justin Houston was docked $7,875 for unsportsmanlike conduct when he led a group celebration after a touchdown that was reversed by a challenge.

In his first game off the PUP, Oakland linebacker Aaron Curry was hit with two fines from the Baltimore game for a total of $23,625. One occurred on defense and the other happened on special teams.

Oakland linebacker Philip Wheeler was fined $7,875 for a facemask violation.
Geno Smith/Matt Barkley/Mike GlennonAP Photo/Cal Sports MediaWest Virginia's Geno Smith, USC's Matt Barkley and NC State's Mike Glennon are the top prospects in what is considered a weak quarterback draft class.
Much has gone wrong for the Kansas City Chiefs this season. Things could get more complicated after the worst season in recent memory for the franchise.

Things are so bad for the Chiefs, even the lone benefit of having a disastrous season may not automatically play in the their favor. It looks like 2013 is going to be a bad draft year to need a quarterback.

Kansas City is 1-8 and on pace to get the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. Despite their awful record, the Chiefs do have talent throughout their lineup. Their most glaring hole is at quarterback. Matt Cassel has lost his starting job and Brady Quinn appears to be a stop-gap answer. Ricky Stanzi, a fifth-round pick in 2011 doesn’t appear to be the answer, either. The Chiefs need a quarterback, but they may be a year too late.

The 2012 quarterback draft class may go down as one of the great all-time quarterback draft classes. Five rookies from that draft class are starting and Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, the first two picks from the draft, appear to be transcendent talents.

What about the 2013 class? Scouts Inc. college scout Steve Muench calls the upcoming quarterback class “terrible.” West Virginia’s Geno Smith, USC’s Matt Barkley and North Carolina State’s Mike Glennon may be the only quarterbacks worthy of a first-round pick, but none of those players appear to be sure things. And if they go in the top three overall picks, they might be massively over-drafted.

In fact, Muench thinks Barkley’s draft stock is ”free-falling” and Muench believes Glennon will have work to do between now and late April to secure a spot in the first round. ESPN draft experts Todd McShay and Mel Kiper have both often said this fall that this quarterback class lacks certainty. Much like the 1984 and 2000 quarterback classes that immediately followed terrific quarterback classes, the 2013 class appears to lack the tremendous talent level of the quarterback class of 2012.

“The Chiefs need a quarterback, so they have to look hard there,” Muench said this week. “But it would have been nicer if they were in this position last year. It would have been a lot nicer. ... There’s no Lucks here.”

Are the Chiefs, who definitely appear headed for a top-three pick, out of luck in the 2013 draft?

Not necessarily, but it appears there aren’t any clear-cut easy connections for Kansas City at any spot. There appears to be better value at the top of the draft at other positions. (Remember, this is always subject to change, especially during the time of the NFL combine in late February.)

Muench said the top five players on Scouts Inc.’s list include Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei, Georgia outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, Notre Dame inside linebacker Manti Te’o, Alabama guard Chance Warmack and Texas A&M defensive end Damontre Moore.

None of those positions are major need areas for the Chiefs, certainly not in the same scope as quarterback. Would the Chiefs really take a guard at No. 1? I Don’t think so, either.

Still, Muench thinks, as of right now, Lotulelei and Jones will be worth the No. 1 pick and the Chiefs should consider taking either players if they get the top pick. He thinks both players will be superstars and instant impact players.

The issue is neither player is a great fit for the Chiefs. Lotulelei may be the better fit for the Chiefs because of his value. Muench thinks he’d be a terrific defensive end in a 3-4 scheme. Kansas City, which has drafted three defensive linemen in the top 11 of the draft since 2008, could put Lotulelei at an end position to pair with 2012 first-round pick Dontari Poe at nose tackle.

“That could work,” Muench said.

Jones, whom Muench describes as an “absolute terror," is a dynamic 3-4 pass-rushing outside linebacker, but the Chiefs are stacked there with Tamba Hali and Justin Houston.

Muench does think if the Chiefs end up with the top pick, they should seriously consider taking Smith over Lotulelei and Jones. Yes, the two defensive stars appear to be more of sure things, but the quarterback factor is huge. Quarterbacks have more value and they often get drafted higher than players at other positions because of their chances of becoming stars.

Muench thinks Smith is a middle-of-the-first-round talent. Yet, he does think he can become a franchise player.

“He is not near Luck or Griffin,” Muench said of Smith. “But I do like him and he can hit big. He needs to get better under pressure, but he is excellent in the pocket and he has a lot of skills. I think he will be taken very highly because of the position and the potential, and I think the Chiefs very much should consider him if they get the No.1 pick. There is no sure thing, but he could hit big. What if he becomes a star and the Chiefs don’t take him? They’d still have a hole at the most important position on the field and they would blow a chance at a star. That’s hard to recover from.”

Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. doesn’t think the Chiefs’ dilemma is big at all. He doesn’t care about the risk or the chance to get a better overall player elsewhere. Here are his thoughts on the subject: “It has to be a quarterback for Kansas City.”

It may be a year late, but the Chiefs’ draft thoughts may have to start at quarterback, regardless if it’s not a golden year at the position.

 

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