In-Depth Chart: Chiefs Quarterbacks

It would be easy to assume that a Pro Bowl appearance and a division title would secure Matt Cassel's position at the top of the quarterback depth chart. But could the addition of former Iowa QB Ricky Stanzi to the mix give Cassel reason to worry about his starting role?

The simple answer is no---at least not yet anyway.

As unfair as it may be, Chiefs Quarterback Matt Cassel is never going to live up to the high expectations that most in Kansas City have for the incumbent starter.

Because of the Chiefs numerous ties to New England, many in the Chiefs Nation expect Cassel to be the Kansas City version of Tom Brady. For those fans though, those expectations will be met with disappointment.

The truth of the matter is that most quarterbacks in the NFL will never have the kind of success that Brady has parlayed into a trio of Super Bowl titles and personal riches.

Still the Chiefs do have a good quarterback. And if you honestly look at his track record thus far in Kansas City, there is no reason to believe he will have anything but a real breakout season in 2011.

Cassel's quarterback rating in 2010 was the highest it's been in his short career as a starter. Last year that rating was a whopping 93.0 and he increased his touchdown throws by 11 from his first season in Kansas City. And further his interceptions dropped by nine, giving him enough NFL cache to garner his first appearance in the Pro Bowl.

Will Scott Pioli re-sign Brodie Croyle?
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On the opposite end of that spectrum is where Chiefs fans need to be worried. Right now the team has no clear cut winner to be Cassel's understudy. Last year that job belonged to veteran Brodie Croyle but it's unlikely that he's going to be on the Chiefs roster in 2011.

Last summer in training camp Croyle was hands down the best quarterback on the field on any given practice. If you look back at Croyle's QB rating throughout his career, it appeared that Croyle's time to shine was finally upon us.

Croyle finished the 2009 season with a QB rating of 90.6 (just 2 points shy of Cassel's 2010 mark). But in just one start, and some token playing time in 2010, Croyle finished the year with an embarrassing 27.7 rating.

Croyle failed at every opportunity he was given in 2010 and may have played himself out of a roster spot next season. At this point it is hard to see Croyle filling the Chiefs backup role in 2011 but that does not mean his NFL dreams are dead just yet.

Croyle has a cannon arm, all the intangibles teams look for in a star QB, and looks like a superstar in practice. Unfortunately, up to this point in his 5 NFL seasons, Croyle has not been able to translate any of that to the field on Sunday's.

Croyle will get a shot to make a roster in 2011, I just don't think it will be in Kansas City.

The exodus of Croyle from Kansas City however will leave the door at least partially open for third stringer, Tyler Palko.

The in-sequential journeyman isn't likely going to start a game for Kansas City in 2011. At 27, his window of opportunity has likely closed.

Head Coach Todd Haley glows about Palko but the numbers game is just not in his favor at this point. If the Chiefs stand pat in free agency (assuming it ever starts) Palko's spot on the roster should be safe. But if Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli signs a more experienced veteran quarterback to the roster I can't see the Chiefs keeping more than three quarterbacks when training camp breaks.

Many feel Stanzi can someday become a starter for the Chiefs. But can he back-up Cassel this season?
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The man who could muddle that decision to carry two or three quarterbacks is Rookie Ricky Stanzi. He enters the circus as a fifth round pick with no expectations. The fact he'll get the luxury of learning from the sidelines next season will only add to his value in the years to come.

But until we get to see Stanzi in a Chiefs practice jersey, it'll be hard to get a feel for how soon the rookie will be able to contribute in 2012 or beyond.

So what do we know for 2011 as we still wait out the lockout?

Short of a random appendix flare-up, last year, Cassel isn't likely to miss much playing time in 2011. And Although I am certain Stanzi is anxious to hit the field, he's an absolute wild card and one would have to assume to become the back-up this season, he's going to have to be on fire during the exhibition season.

So as things stand now, the unappealing choice would be for Pioli to sign Croyle for one more year. Or he could push for Palko to become number two. Or he could sign a free agent.

The Chiefs have a reliable and ascending quarterback in Cassel that Chiefs fans should rejoice his presence. Many teams around the NFL are still stuck in limbo until the NFL/Players dispute is settled in court and will not know who will lead their teams until then.

Luckily for the Chiefs, their quarterback of the future has been in Kansas City organizing team practices at local high schools in preparation for the upcoming season. And I'm starting to get the feeling it's going to be a good one for Cassel.

WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Matt Cassel is #1 but who will be #2?

In-Depth Chart: Chiefs Cornerbacks

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