Coming off a 12-win season, the Kansas City Chiefs do not have many glaring needs in the upcoming NFL draft.
That’s why the odds of Kansas City drafting a quarterback in the early rounds are higher than ever before.
This year there are no top quarterbacks ready to start right away, but there are a still a few options out there that could be perfect fits for Kansas City’s future.
Before Chiefs fans get too excited about the prospects that Kansas City will take a signal-caller in the first round, it’s important to understand the franchise’s track record and how unlikely it really is.
The Chiefs have not drafted a quarterback in the first round since 1983, they have not won a game with a quarterback they drafted since 1987 and the last drafted quarterback to even start a game was Brodie Croyle, who KC took back in 2006.
Could the Chiefs break a 34-year streak of no quarterbacks drafted in the first round?
Yes, but in reality, depth can be added at cornerback, you can never have too many defensive linemen and bringing in a second tight end or pass catching running back would really help the offense.
Drafting a quarterback, even in the first round, would most likely not make much of an impact on the 2017 season. Alex Smith is a more than capable quarterback to deliver a winning season, just as he’s done each of his four years in Kansas City, and there’s no available, polished, option with the potential of an Andrew Luck or a Cam Newton.
However, it’s completely fair for Chiefs fans to wonder whether or not they have reached the ceiling with Smith under center.
Not on par with the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, who consistently carry their teams to victory when their teammates aren’t playing well, Smith just doesn’t have that track record. And that could be the reason why 2017 is the perfect opportunity for the Chiefs to draft a quarterback that has the potential to do all the things Smith can’t.
Each of these quarterbacks has red flags and even if the Chiefs do select one early on, Smith still gives the Chiefs the best chance to win in 2017, at least to start the year. After a year in the system under the tutelage of Smith and Andy Reid, refining their techniques and grasping a complex playbook, then, maybe, one of these quarterbacks could become Kansas City’s franchise quarterback for years to come.
Mitchell Trubisky- North Carolina
If Trubisky stayed one more year at the University of North Carolina and played just as well as he did in 2016, he could have very well been the number one pick in the 2018 draft. However, he decided to declare for the draft after just 13 career starts, leaving many to wonder how good Trubisky really is.
If the Chiefs really want Trubisky, they’re likely going to have to trade up to get him. It would not be a huge shock if he is taken in the top five and odds are he doesn’t fall out of the top 15. If he does, the Chiefs would likely have to jump ahead of the Texans at pick 25 in order to snag the Tar Heel quarterback.
Trubisky played in more of a progression-style offense than his fellow competitors and proved he had the ability to evade the rush and still make accurate throws.
His 66 percent completion percentage on throws under pressure was tops in college football, a skill that is one of the most important evaluators for success at the next level.
Trubisky’s quick release is the biggest reason he’s able to avoid the pressure, but his footwork is one of the best in the draft as well. Added with solid mechanics in the release, it’s no wonder he was one of the most accurate passers and considered to have a very high floor.
His ability to naturally read through progressions is rare at the college level, and Trubisky showed the confidence and discipline to scan the field at will and make quick decisions. This lends itself perfectly to Reid’s west coast style offense, where Trubisky’s accuracy is comparable to Smiths.
Also similar to Smith, Trubisky takes care of the ball better than most his age, especially with such little starting experience. Where he could be better than Smith is with the deep ball, as he consistently utilized streaking go-routes to drop the ball in between the safeties and corners.
Still, he only did this for one year. The ACC is no longer a weak football conference, but the defenses faced were not always on the level of the SEC or Big 10. While he handled the rush well, he often put himself or his teammates in bad positions with poor blitz recognition before the snap.
His deep ball is not as consistent as other quarterbacks and his team did lose five games last year. He’s not proven his worth on a big stage, leading to questions about how he’d handle the pressure.
Trubisky is still the most polished passer with a balanced all-around game that would fit well into Kansas City’s offense. While he needs time to learn how to read defenses better and get more experience against those top defenses, he could easily a solid starting quarterback in the very near future.
Patrick Mahomes- Texas Tech
Mahomes’ on the field play could be described as the anti-Alex Smith. He threw, and completed more big-time throws than most quarterbacks in all of college football, while also slinging more turnover-worthy throws than most quarterbacks in the nation. This puts his ceiling the highest in this year’s draft, and if Reid can corral Mahomes and harness that potential, he could be the league’s next top gun-slinger.
With a throwing style similar to Brett Favre, Mahomes suave whip release is eye-opening each time he drops an 80-yard throw down the field. Every throw is in Mahomes’ arsenal and he’s shown accurate and powerful arm talent throughout his college career. The Favre comparison also reaches the mental side of things, as Mahomes played with little fear as a very instinctual player with great anticipation.
He showed off his natural athleticism at the combine, something that showed in the pocket as he consistently evaded rushers. While some might consider it luck, Mahomes’ ability to quickly find a receiver deep down the field and drop it right in place without even thinking twice showed his ceiling.
Above-average vision and ability to go through reads were on display in Texas Tech’s spread offense. With lesser talent around him, Mahomes had to carry his team in close games, often playing outside of what the offense asked for, and still finding ways to make plays. The ability to make a play when everything goes wrong is what sets the average NFL quarterback apart from the greats.
All of these strengths are also often his greatest weaknesses. When he plays out of the structured offense and makes a play, it’s great. But he also often gets hung out to dry when trying to do too much. Too many forced throws where he tries to play hero could scare off many NFL teams.
His undisciplined footwork and overall fundamentals also raise red flags, as he relies solely on his arm talent to make up for his deficiencies, something that may not work in the NFL. These inconsistencies are on full display when he drifts out of a clean pocket early, but he does have the speed to recover.
He might have the greatest learning curve of all, coming from Tech’s wide system, but Reid is the perfect person to coach out Mahomes’ issues and bring out his strengths. The Chiefs could be more likely to take Mahomes as they can afford to take a risk more than other teams, but fans should be aware that he could turn into a really big bust.
Still, the natural instincts and arm ability are some of the best the draft has seen in recent years, making him a perfect developmental project. His undisciplined flaws have been coached out of great players in the past, and if he buys in, he may be one of the NFL’s best in no time.
DeShaun Watson- Clemson
The name that most fans recognize, and have placed at the top of many wish lists, is also the most perplexing of the top three.
On one end you see an experienced quarterback who still threw a staggering 14 interceptions in clean pockets, but also one who led his team to back to back National Championship games including a come from behind win against Alabama in January.
At his best, Watson looks like a perfect fit in the west coast offense with great touch, above average speed, a playmaker's mentality and arm that zips in slant passes better than most. His smooth delivery and great timing with receivers are a product of anticipation, rhythm and pre-snap preparation. This is a must in the NFL and Watson may be the readiest of the big three to start in the NFL.
While he may not have the speed of Mahomes, he used his legs more often and has a very good burst when leaving the pocket. His deep ball is better than you would think, since he doesn’t have the strongest of arms, but is more than passable thanks to great timing and touch, especially on fades and go routes.
What’s keeping Watson from earning the top ranking by many, even with his great resume, is how he performed in all the other games. The same guy who drove his team to a game-winning drive in the closing seconds of the championship made way too many mistakes in the regular season. The accuracy was far too inconsistent, leading to 30 interceptions in just two years.
Watson also showed very little ability to go through the necessary reads and progressions of an NFL quarterback. Even in the title game, it was often snap, one look, throw or take off running. He abandoned his receivers too often in favor of the run, which happens when you have no confidence in your other reads.
It is unclear whether this was more a product of Watson or the system, and while it’s successful, it’s unsustainable at the next level. He also played with better offensive weapons than most in college football, including future first-round draft pick Mike Williams. His reliance on Williams and slow processing speed for the offense leaves many to wonder if he can handle an NFL playbook.
The Chiefs have the personnel and system in which Watson can be successful and his ability to perform in the biggest of moments warrants a selection if he’s still available.
But fans should temper expectations as his ceiling may be the lowest based off of the skill set he showed in most of his college games. He has a lot to prove at the NFL level to shake off the fair criticism’s around his lack of progressions, shaky accuracy and simple schemes, but his intangibles and resume still make him an option that Chiefs fans can get very excited about.
Trubisky, Mahomes and Watson are most likely to be drafted in the first round and probably the only quarterbacks to go. They are also the one’s most likely to be anywhere close ready in year two to take over for Smith and helm the Chiefs offense.
Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer has lots of potential at his disposal, but any quarterback taken outside of those four should be considered more of a long-term project like Aaron Murray, Tyler Bray and Kevin Hogan, rather than the next franchise quarterback.
Keep an eye on Davis Webb out of California, Brad Kaaya from Miami, Chad Kelly out of Ole Miss and Pittsburgh’s Nathan Peterman as sleeper options for Kansas City from the third round on.
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