Lottery Tickets is a breakdown series of the lesser known players who have a chance to make the Chiefs Week 1 roster. Leading up to training camp, we’ll be profiling the intriguing undrafted free agents and reserve/future contract players that show the ability to potentially stick in the NFL.
Why is this series called Lottery Tickets? The players we discuss are high upside players that haven’t significantly affected the Chiefs bottom line, but the returns could be substantial.
There’s a saying out there that one of the best gigs in football is to be an Andy Reid backup quarterback. There’s some truth to it. Reid has traditionally been able to get the most of quarterbacks. Players like Kevin Kolb played above his head under Reid, and then the Eagles flipped him for a second round pick and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. Tyler Bray moved on this year, and the former undrafted free agent is now collecting his checks with the Chicago Bears.
The young project role was filled shortly after the draft was over when Marshall QB Chase Litton signed with the Chiefs. He has a chance to stick as the third quarterback on the roster.
Why he went undrafted
Litton isn’t the most athletic player you’ve ever seen. When he isn’t able to throw on time and has to go off script, he struggles at times to get a solid base to deliver the ball at times.
This is a poor decision mixed with a poor base and weight transfer. You can’t make these kinds of choices in the red zone, and the execution of the throw wasn’t good either. Litton is best when throwing from a stable platform. He needs to arrive at that base more consistently. This snap is pretty glaring. This next snap isn’t a great look either.
His arm strength is average and he struggles to consistently drive the ball when he’s forced to do it from the pocket. Here he doesn’t have the velocity to get there, and the ball sails on him. He’ll need to continue to develop accuracy and velocity should he have to make a similar throw in the future. That’s what he needs to work on to stick.
There are also plenty of moments that show promise.
This is Litton getting to throw on schedule and with good timing. He can work well within in the confines of the offense. When the structure of the play is stable, he can execute, shows decisiveness and can put the ball where it needs to be. Litton was able to do that with a little pressure in his face as well. He had the toughness to execute through the contact. He can execute some of the simple things at a high level.
This is Litton being decisive and getting the ball quickly to the flats for a first down. The North Carolina State defense was late to line up and Litton knew they were out-leveraged on the third receiver running to the flat. He quickly released the ball before the defense can get in position and give the receiver a chance to run after the catch. This is far from the flashiest throw but this is well executed nonetheless. There is something to be said about a guy that is able to execute the basics well.
It’s a good quality for a backup quarterback to be consistent and decisive on the easy stuff. That’s what game managers do. Litton should be able to provide that at a high level someday. That’s not to say he doesn’t have some impressive moments though.
The ball placement on this corner route on the sprint to his left is about as good as it gets. Litton shows great anticipation on the move, on time, staying in the structure of the play. Here’s the tight view of the same throw.
The only person that has a chance to catch that ball is the receiver, and he still gives him a chance to get his feet in bounds. Litton had pressure coming to him on his backside, but showed the poise to deliver a well-timed accurate ball to the receiver’s break. When he can get his body aligned in position to deliver the throw, there’s some impressive moments. There are a few instances where he had success on the move on corner routes. It wasn’t consistent on the move though.
#LotteryTickets You'd like to see Litton be able to get more downhill on this throw. Hips and shoulders don't give him a chance to be accurate. Lack of athleticism shows up here. Momentum shouldn't have you falling backwards. pic.twitter.com/Dx9qtr78yH— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) May 8, 2018
There wasn’t a ton of pressure for Litton to pull up on this throw so quick. He should’ve worked to get his hips and shoulders towards the receiver better than he did. His momentum shouldn’t be heading where it does. If he tried to finish through that throw and worked to generate his momentum more towards the target, the ball placement would have had a chance to complete that throw.
The bottom line
There’s enough from what I’ve seen from Litton on tape to warrant a long look in training camp. If he’s able to deliver the ball within structure, he can be a productive backup. If Tyler Bray can be afforded a five year tenure in Kansas City, I don’t see why Litton can’t get a few years to develop under Reid. Backup quarterback Chad Henne’s contract ends after the 2019 season. The best case scenario for the Chiefs is that Litton can be a cost controlled No. 2 once Henne’s deal is over.
If he can show the mental capacity, willingness to work and makes a few plays in the preseason, I wouldn’t be stunned to see Litton be a developmental third quarterback or get the mysterious Week 4 of the preseason IR addition.