Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Chiefs have eyes on everyone as NFL combine opens
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs have the first overall pick in the NFL draft for the first time in franchise history, and with no clear-cut No. 1 it's a pretty safe assumption that their new brain trust will be busy this week.
It's also a pretty safe bet that while Kansas City keeps an eye on just about every player available at the annual scouting combine in Indianapolis, every other team will be keeping an eye on the Chiefs.
Players begin arriving at the combine Wednesday. On-field workouts begin Saturday.
"We have the first pick in the first round. We all know there is some pressure involved in that," said general manager John Dorsey, who was hired from Green Bay to replace the fired Scott Pioli in January. "But you make the right pick by choosing the best player."
That was an easy one last season.
Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck cemented his status as the best player available, and the Indianapolis Colts declared they would pick him first overall early in the process.
Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III became the clear second choice, and the only question was who would take him. The Washington Redskins wound up mortgaging a second-round pick in last year's draft and first-round selections this year and next to move up from sixth.
But the consensus is that there's no quarterback worth taking with the first pick this year, even though it may be the Chiefs' most glaring need. And that means there's no consensus on who will be the first overall choice, leaving the Chiefs to examine dozens of prospects during the weeklong meat market of physicals, interviews and workouts.
Dorsey and new coach Andy Reid, who was hired after Romeo Crennel was let go, have spent the past couple weeks putting together a rough draft board, but they both understand that it could change dramatically between now and April 25.
Once it's set, though, expect the Chiefs to stick to it.
"You spend all those months staying true to your board, and all of a sudden, you have to jump a player due to positional needs?" Dorsey asked. "I don't think you can do that."
Dorsey, who was spent the past several seasons putting together the Packers' draft boards, pointed out how often Green Bay chose players at positions where they were already solid -- wide receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb, and even quarterback Aaron Rodgers -- and how often those players became key contributors to the franchise's success.
"What we want to do is get good football players on this roster," Dorsey said. "That's what you really want from a team perspective, to get good players. That's what I want."
That's what everybody wants.
The Chiefs have needs at several positions, so it's possible they'll attempt to trade out of the No. 1 pick. But if they end up making the selection, which name is called could depend heavily on what transpires with a couple players who were on their roster last season.
Wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and left tackle Branden Albert can both become free agents, and the Chiefs are reportedly interested in re-signing both of them. Failing that, they may choose to use the franchise tag on one of them, something they did with Bowe last season.
The reason the decision carries so much importance is that Texas A&M left tackle Luke Joeckel could be a fit for Kansas City if Albert is no long protecting the quarterback's blind side.
"I think trading out is still the best option," ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said of the Chiefs' predicament. "There's no quarterback to remotely consider if you're Kansas City. I would say if you can get out of there, that's the best option."
Still, some believe the Chiefs have such a need at quarterback that they'd be willing to reach far enough to select one with the first overall pick.
Matt Cassel struggled so much last season that he was benched, and former fifth-round draft pick Ricky Stanzi has been so underwhelming that he's hardly played in two seasons. So the need for a quarterback is paramount, whether that's in the first round or later in the draft.
"Let's be real," Dorsey said, "the quarterback is a very important part of any franchise."
Most believe the best available is West Virginia's Geno Smith, who plans to throw during the combine. Southern Cal quarterback Matt Barkley will also be attending, though he will not throw after having shoulder surgery. Then there are other prospects such as Arkansas' Tyler Wilson and North Carolina State's Mike Glennon who could turn heads before April rolls around.
"I've got six quarterbacks right now that I think truly belong in the second round, in terms of their grade," ESPN college football analyst Todd McShay said. "The depth is sensational."
Six quarterbacks? That alone would be enough to keep the Chiefs busy this week.
Throw in every other player that will be available, and Dorsey, Reid and the rest of their scouting staff are sure to be a blur during their time in Indianapolis.