We'll be starting Kansas City Chiefs positional previews before the start of training camp next week. Up today are the quarterbacks.
Unofficial depth chart: Alex Smith, Chase Daniel, Aaron Murray, Tyler Bray
Changes: Same group as last year, with Bray on IR last year.
Will Alex Smith stretch the field?
Swap out Dwayne Bowe for Jeremy Maclin, throw in some Chiefs fans clamoring for a deep ball and you have a situation where expectations for Alex Smith and the deep ball are probably a little high. I do think the Chiefs will stretch the field a little more this year but I don't believe Smith is going through any wholesale changes to his game. He's still at his best when he's throwing to the middle of the field and allowing the receivers and tight ends to rack up the YAC, which is an area where the speedy Maclin should be an upgrade over Bowe. Andy Reid doesn't seem like the type who would force Smith into doing something he's not good at. So while I would love to see more of a vertical passing attack, and do expect to see some more of that to a degree, I don't believe Smith is turning into Joe Flacco.
Will the Chiefs cut Chase Daniel?
This was a question last year after the Chiefs drafted Aaron Murray. Murray wasn't ready for the No. 2 QB job so the Chiefs kept Daniel around. I go back and look at Daniel's two starts and see he played well enough for the Chiefs to win both of them. That's what you ask for in a backup, and that's why I think he sticks around.
How many games will Chase Daniel have to play?
As the Chiefs backup QB in the last two seasons, Daniel has gone 1-1 (but really 2-0) in Week 17 games vs. the Chargers. He has shown he is good enough to win a spot-start for the Chiefs. Alex Smith has only missed one game due to injury since he arrived in KC (2014, Week 17, spleen) but the Chiefs have to be prepared for the possibility that Smith misses an extended period of time. It's just the danger of playing quarterback in the NFL. I would feel comfortable with Daniel starting a game or two because we've seen he can perform well enough to win. However, I would be more concerned if he was forced to start for, say, six weeks. Most backups will struggle the more they play. I have confidence in Andy Reid that he could manage the hell out of a Chase Daniel-led offense to make the Chiefs respectable were he to start multiple games.
Is Aaron Murray ready to be the No. 2 next year?
This will be Murray's second season in the NFL. He knows his role and realizes that with Smith as the starter and Daniel as the backup the chances of him playing this year are very low. We'll get a better idea of how he's developing during the preseason but against other third stringers it's difficult to truly evaluate him. So he remains a bit of an unknown.
What happens with Tyler Bray?
Bray has spent the last two seasons on IR and we're left to wonder if he'll spend a third season there after tearing his ACL sometime last December or January. The recovery time is such that we're not sure if he'll be ready for training camp. Even if he returns healthy, it's very difficult to find a way to get Bray on the team. It would be a surprise if he beat out Murray for the third spot, and it would also be a surprise if the Chiefs cut Daniel at this point. I'm not sure how Bray makes the team. We said the same thing last year and he ended up on IR. So we'll see.