The Chiefs nation is predictably polarized between those that feel the Chiefs absolutely MUST draft a QB with the #1 pick, and those that don’t.
I am an avid Chiefs fan that until recently held season tickets for 24 years (even though I’ve lived in Dallas for the last 15 years). Traveling back to KC several times a year takes a certain dedication and commitment of time (being self-employed helps) and I mention this simply to establish my creds as someone slightly more focused than a casual fan.
I do, however, have a different perspective on my beloved team than most fans. Besides wins/losses I tend to focus on the business side of the Chiefs operation. I greatly admire the Hunt family and the Chiefs organization. My pet-peeves are more along the lines of fans that can’t understand the difference between cash dollars and cap dollars than who should be the top QB in this year’s draft. I value the leadership and decision making ability (of the players, coaches, and front office) as much as I do someone’s time in the 40 or their vertical jump. In other words, it is the strategy of putting a championship team together that trips my trigger...
Having said all of that, I believe it is reasonably simple to predict the organization’s actions (and media interactions) leading up to and including day one of the 2013 NFL Draft.
I am not claiming to be able to see the future with 100% accuracy, but the same ‘business sense’ that allowed me to be confident that both Crennel and Pioli would be released (This Will Tell Us if Pioli is Coming Back) and also explains the fast hiring of Andy Reid (Mysteries Surrounding the Chiefs and what Clark Hunt Needs to Do) are giving me a good idea of what is likely to happen over the next three months. See what you think:
1) Reid and Hunt will do everything possible to make everyone believe they are not taking a QB with the #1 pick. Everyone knows we need a QB, but if other teams are certain that we are not using first pick to take that RT, DT, LB, or (insert top position of need) that they covet then they will have no reason to want to trade with us. It is only good business sense to cultivate as many options as possible and there is absolutely no reason whatsoever to discourage another team from offering up a Ricky Williams/Mike Ditka type of trade offer. We can always say no.
2) We absolutely will try (and probably succeed) at acquiring a legitimate QB in Free Agency. There are QBs on the market that we can win with. Yes, the fan base will go crazy thinking that we’re using a retread instead of the draft to find a Franchise QB, but in reality this leaves ALL of our options open. We can use the FA QB as a mentor and keep the pressure off of our drafted QB until he can grow into the position and then ‘let’ the rookie win the starting job mid-season, we can ‘let’ the rookie win the starting job in training camp and use the FA QB as back-up (with the new CBA this is now financially feasible) or, we can draft a project QB in a later round and use the #1 pick for another position. Again, come draft day, no one will know what we’re going to do.
3) Andy Reid is under NO PRESSURE to develop a Franchise QB this year. I feel strongly that I’m right about this. We need a QB that can win games and make us competitive, but that is very different from a true Franchise QB. This is the first time in my two and a half decades of following the Chiefs that I’ve heard the HC and owner openly and repeatedly talk about acquiring/developing a true, Len Dawson type of Franchise QB. I believe they’re serious about it and I believe they’ll accomplish it – but it may take time. I also believe that this is one of the main reasons that Clark went so hard after Reid and that Reid signed with us – the total focus is on that Franchise QB. A big part of that nine-hour interview was certainly devoted to this subject and Reid had the opportunity to spell out exactly how he would go about finding him and Hunt had the opportunity to spell out exactly what resources he would devote to the search. This is not Philly (win the Super Bowl now at all costs); both Reid and Hunt are focused on long-term stability and a high performance product that gives us a chance for a championship year in and year out. Hunt will allow a season or two of development to compete at this level – but this does not mean that a losing record in the meantime is acceptable.
4) The issue is not, ‘Who Is the Best QB in This Draft’ – the issue is: a) can one of these prospects ever be a Franchise QB, and b) how much separation is there between the prospects?
From a business standpoint, if you believe you can develop one of these guys into THE MAN then you acquire him at all costs – regardless of draft value, other needs, and what the fans and talking heads want. On the other hand, if you don’t believe this then all the arguments that state that you have to use the #1 pick on a QB because we ‘have to have the best QB on the board’ go out the window. All we ‘have to have’ this year is a QB that will get us 8 or 9 wins while we find THE MAN.
Also, if our staff determines that there are four or more QBs of relatively equal value (but no true franchise talent) then it makes no difference which round we take him in. He is not going to be the long-term solution anyway.
This is a business perspective and like many business strategies it will never be openly talked about by the Chiefs organization. There is no question however that the Chiefs need a true Franchise QB and that a team has to be very lucky or very good (front office and coaching, not win/loss) to get one. I believe they will leave no stone unturned and that includes not limiting themselves to one season for the search. The one conclusion that I feel very confident in making is that if the Chiefs do use the #1 pick on a QB, they feel strongly that he can be the next great Len Dawson.
So until draft day, we can have fun debating ‘who’s the best’ and what we should do, but I’ll be anxiously observing the actions of the Chiefs, not their words, to see their true plan for the future. All in all, I have faith in Clark Hunt; his fandom and his business savvy.