Chiefs on the Radar: Quarterbacks

It would be easy to write off the idea of the Chiefs selecting a quarterback in the upcoming draft, but if there is one thing we have learned about Kansas City's GM Scott Pioli, it's that he is always thinking one step ahead.

Sure, Matt Cassel is the first Pro Bowl QB that Kansas City has been able to claim in the last six years. The turnover Cassel has shown the past two seasons was rivaled by only Michael Vick, but there's no way Pioli and head coach Todd Haley can say with 100% certainty that the QB of the future is currently on the roster.

Cassel had a solid, efficient, and sometimes even impressive season, but let's face it: you could never call him great. Very few are. But if the Chiefs want to win a championship in the near future, they need to stick with the mindset that good is simply not good enough. Something tells me we don't need to worry about Pioli's mindset.

If the Chiefs, with their 21st overall pick, have what they believe to be a "quarterback of the future" on their final draft day board, they need to think long and hard about pulling the trigger.

This year's best are Missouri's own Blaine Gabbert and Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton of Auburn. Unfortunately, both will surely be gone well before the Chiefs make their selection. But Kansas City will have their pick of the rest.

Ryan Mallett is one that should be available when the Chiefs make their selection on day one, but the 6'6", former Razorback comes with more than a few off the field issues – none more concerning than his issues on it.

Mallett looks phenomenal on paper. In his two years starting for Arkansas, Mallett averaged 31 touchdowns and only 9.5 intercepts per season. But the fact that a quarterback can play that well and never be voted team captain is a red flag. Considering the Chiefs' affection for team leaders, I can't foresee a scenario where the Chiefs bring in Mallett on day one or two.

Washington Huskies QB Jake Locker continues post workout slide.
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If the Chiefs do shock the world and select a QB on day one, I can't see it being anyone other than Jake Locker. All I have heard since the 2010 collegiate football season began was how far the Washington QB was falling down draft boards. Had he entered the draft prior to his senior season, Locker could be in St. Louis right now preparing for his sophomore season in the NFL. But he didn't enter the draft, he played poorly his senior year, and many are projecting him to be a mid-second round pick.

Locker appears to have the arm of Elway, the accuracy of Brees, and the impromptu stylings of Brett Favre, so I think a lot of negative talk on him may simply be posturing. Locker is a no-brainer in the second round, but I doubt he makes it out of the first.

Regardless of how high they have him rated, Pioli and his Chiefs would have a PR nightmare if they drafted a QB in the first round and a full on rift in the locker room as well. Considering how much the Chiefs have invested in Cassel to this point, I highly doubt they take the risk of setting him back.

Brodie Croyle has manned the back-up duties for multiple seasons now, but when given the opportunity in 2010, he had a miserable showing (8-19, 38 yds, 1 int, 4 sacks). Due to the lack of a CBA, Croyle is currently a free agent, and if I had to bet, I would say Croyle is not a Chief in 2011.

But the Chiefs can address the need for a young backup QB without creating a full on quarterback controversy.

Chiefs have not tipped their hand about the future of Brodie Croyle.
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The group of QBs headlining day two will be Christian Ponder of Florida State and TCU's Andy Dalton. Both of these project players have the potential to turn into Pro Bowl caliber franchise QBs, but in the case of Ponder he is prone to injury. Considering the reliability of Croyle in recent years and the Chiefs' need for stability at the #2 position, Ponder won't get a look from the Chiefs unless it is in round three or later.

Dalton, on the other hand, could be a commodity on day two. Dalton air mails enough passes to scare you off, but his intangibles are through the roof. He has the stats to back up his price tag, and even though he played in the spread, his 27 touchdowns to just six interceptions should garner him some good long looks from the Chiefs, who have already met with him.

But if indeed the Chiefs are targeting a future backup, not a future starter, the ideal time would be between rounds 3-5. This would be the soft spot in the draft that would not carry the same high-risk/high tension situation as rounds 1-2.

Possible candidates that fit these criteria would be Nevada's Colin Kaepernick, Alabama's Greg McElroy, Delaware's Pat Delvin, and Iowa's Ricky Stanzi.

Stanzi's is the name I'm seeing more and more as we approach draft day, and considering Pioli's ties to Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz, the pieces seem to fit. Personally, I don't see a lot in Stanzi that gets me excited. Stanzi's career touchdown to interception ratio is 31:25, and in just two years as the starter for the Hawkeyes he was sacked 45 times. In fact, every eight times that Stanzi dropped back to pass, he was either sacked or intercepted.

Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi could be reunited with KC Tight End Tony Moeaki.
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Delvin is intriguing simply based off of Delaware's recent success in cultivating NFL QBs. Kaepernick (who has a reported workout with the Chiefs) and McElroy could both turn out to be great QBs, but neither will be ready their rookie seasons. Kaepernick is tall and rangy and McElroy is as smart as they come, but both have a serious hitch in their throwing motion. These guys come with some major risk, but if the Chiefs can snag either in rounds 4-5, it could be worth it.

There are plenty of dark horses in rounds 6-7 and two of my personal favorites are Minnesota's Adam Weber and Idaho's Nathan Enderle. Both of these guys have cut their teeth in NFL type systems and have shown the toughness and grit it takes to be a backup in the NFL. These guys are long shots, but so was Tom Brady.

In 2011, Matt Cassel will be the Chiefs' starting quarterback without question but I fully expect the Chiefs to bring in a rookie QB. Whether that is on day one, two, three, or even the first wave of free agency, only the Chiefs know. But after it all shakes out, I am confident a veteran QB signing will shortly follow.

Up Next: Offensive Line Preview

Will KC make a run for another QB in Round One?

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