Say it with me: Lance Long still has a long road ahead.
For those with high hopes for Long, it's understandable. The new, unknown quantity - i.e. a draft pick - is always more sexy than those we're already familiar with. We see a hole, we find a new player and hope the two are a match made in heaven. More often than not, however, these things don't work out.
That's not to say Long doesn't have potential, but it's important to keep perspective in mind. Long didn't get drafted in the 2008 draft and now was let go by the one team that signed him. Success cases have certainly been made at nearly every position in the NFL from such circumstances, but there are more guys waiting by the phone at home for a chance at a Practice Squad than there are active athletes who rose from such ashes.
Even back in college during his playing days at Mississippi State, his career numbers amounted to 32 catches for 218 yards and one - yep, one - touchdown. Oh, yeah, he also rushed once (for negative yardage) and returned five kickoffs. Quite the career. [Ed. Note: stats from MSU's website; ESPN stats differ slightly with 0 touchdowns and 321 receiving yards.] His tenure with the Cardinals is probably mostly due to the TE coach from MSU being the Cards coach at the same position last year.
This isn't intended as a jab against Long at all. He obviously holds some strong potential that head coach Todd Haley is quite clued into and I suspect the Chiefs have been perched for a while wondering how the Cardinals would eventually handle their glut of receiving prospects. In fact, he ran a 4.38 at the MSU Pro Day before the 2008 draft and his shuttle time was, allegedly, the fastest in the country. He also possesses a lot of special teams experience at both the pro and college level - recording 11 tackles in college and handling both kick and punt return duties in the preseason with the Cardinals.
Thus, it seems the Chiefs at least have real athlete on their hands - someone with the raw potential to make some noise with special teams and perhaps turn into something more. It's highly improbable but given the Chiefs overall lack of talent, expect Scott Pioli to continue to take these chances time and again over the next 12 months or so with Long-esque players from around the league.
Let's check out Magic 8-Ball. The future of Lance Long is:
Starting Wide Receiver with the Chiefs (124 votes)
Solid Special Teams Performer (244 votes)
Somewhere on the Active Roster (192 votes)
Practice Squad Fodder (156 votes)
Cut Before 2009 is Over (132 votes)
848 total votes