With the 2011 season drawing to a close this Sunday, it's time we take a look at the future. While it's disappointing the Kansas City Chiefs fell short of a second straight playoff berth, they still have many pieces in place. However, one enormous question remains.
With Matt Barkley and Landry Jones returning to school, only Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III seem like quarterbacks worthy of a first round pick. Griffin III might be around when Kansas City makes its selection but Luck will be long gone. To get a QB in April, Pioli would probably have to trade up by dealing multiple picks.
If the Chiefs are going to take a QB they better do it in the first or second round. I know Tom Brady was drafted in the sixth, but statistics show almost every star QB is taken early.
The risk of making such a choice is greatly reduced because of the new CBA. No longer are top picks awarded a contract of $50 million guaranteed. While Pioli would still be pushing his chips into the middle of the table, he would maintain cap flexibility.
However, this team has a lot of talented players just entering the prime of their careers. If Pioli swings and misses on a QB in the draft, years will be wasted.
On the other hand, if Kansas City stands pat and signs Kyle Orton/keeps Matt Cassel, the team might be stuck in neutral only delaying the inevitable.
Kyle Orton definitely throws a nicer deep ball and goes through his progressions better than Cassel. Cassel has better ball security and seems like more of a leader on the field. Both has different strengths and yet both have glaring weaknesses.
The only question that needs to be asked is this: Can either of them drive this team to a Super Bowl?
The Chiefs have to figure this out right now. This team needs depth but first and foremost needs a legitimate QB in the worst way. The defense is starting to become dominant even without Eric Berry. Does Pioli decide to go heavy on the defense in this draft? Possibly take an inside linebacker and a nose tackle?
Or does Pioli make that move for a QB, pick up some pieces in free agency and go for the brass ring in that capacity?
In my eyes, the defense looks like something special with a few more pieces. Kansas City should draft the best ILB and NT in the draft. Load up on defense, pray everyone comes back healthy and add a few offensive linemen in free agency. The only way Pioli should take a QB is if Griffin III falls and the organization thinks he's the answer.
Turnovers kill you, but Orton should be the choice over Cassel. He has a much better arm and can scare opposing defenses into backing off the line. Add in Jamaal Charles and Tony Moeaki for Orton to work with and we could finally see a prolific attack.
I hate interceptions, but Kansas City needs someone who can challenge the defense. Orton makes a team cover every receiver on a play, not just the first option. Kyle Orton isn't a special QB but with a very good team he could win big. He's never been given a prolonged chance with any talent. He's thrown for 299+ yards twice as a Chief in two games. Cassel has done that three times in his career here.
You have to appreciate the way Cassel works but at some point the production has to be there. With a great team Cassel might be able to win, but I'm not sure. If Kansas City is in the playoffs and can't run I have no faith in him winning the game with his arm. I believe Kyle Orton can do that.
Hire Josh McDaniels as the offensive coordinator and let him work with Orton again. Keep Crennel as the coach, let him worry about the defense and let McDaniels run the offense.
One thing is for sure, the Chiefs are at a fork in the road. They need to make the correct turn.