So Doc Brown pulls up in the DeLorean and offers you one trip — just one — to try and put the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2013 NFL Draft right in your heart.
Where do you roll, Marty?
To Waco, in the winter of 2012, to convince Robert Griffin III to stay in school another year, dropping hints that Dan Snyder is just waiting in the wings to ruin his life/career?
To the Chiefs’ front offices in the spring of 2013, to try and swing the needle toward D.J. Fluker or Kyle Long?
Hindsight is a hell of a thing. Hindsight and hypotethicals. The Chiefs (1-1) are visiting the Green Bay Packers (2-0) at Lambeau Field on Monday night with Eric Fisher, the No. 1 overall pick of 2013, back in a starting role. As in his 2013 starting role: Right tackle.
And it’s the right tackle part that lands wrong. Of the overall top picks in the draft from 1970-2014, 45 selections in all, only three — including Fisher — have been offensive tackles. The other two, Orlando Pace (1997) and Jake Long (2008), were Pro Bowlers by their third NFL campaign. And neither moved off that left side of the line, the “glamour” spot in the trenches, before the age of 29. In a salary-cap, budget-conscious world, rare is that kind of investment in a blind-side protector made without the faith, barring injury, that said blind-side protector is a “franchise” tackle.
In Year 3, Eric Fisher ain’t that. Not yet.
But here’s the thing. Neither is he alone, at least compared to the options available at the time:
2013 NFL Draft class, Top 10
Pro Bowls: 0. Pro-Football-Reference.com’s Approximate Value (AV) over 2+ seasons, on average: 9.3 total AV, or 4.38 AV per player, per season; 10 total seasons as a starter (’13 and ’14 only).
Top 4 picks: 1. Fisher, T, Chiefs; 2. Luke Joeckel, T, Jaguars; 3. Dion Jordan, DE, Dolphins; 4. Lane Johnson, T, Eagles.
Jordan is serving a year’s suspension for a third strike (already) in violation of the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs. Fisher and Joeckel have battled injuries and/or stretches of ineffectiveness while Johnson has found his footing — as a right tackle.
Now compare the profile of this bunch compared to the two drafts prior and the draft that immediately followed:
2011 NFL Draft class, Top 10
Pro Bowls: 20. Approximate Value over 4+ seasons, on average: 36.5 total, or 8.85 AV per player, per season; 32 total seasons spent as a starter (’11, ’12, ’13 and ’14 only).
Top 4 picks: 1. Cam Newton, QB, Panthers; 2. Von Miller, OLB, Broncos; 3. Marcell Dareus, DT, Bills; A.J. Green, WR, Bengals.
2012 NFL Draft class, Top 10
Pro Bowls: 7. Approximate Value over 3+ seasons, on average: 22.1 total, or 7.07 AV per player, per season; 24 total seasons spent as a starter (’12, ’13 and ’14 only).
Top 4 picks: 1. Andrew Luck, QB, Colts; 2. Griffin III, QB, Redskins; 3. Trent Richardson, RB, Browns; 4. Matt Kalil, T, Vikings.
2014 NFL Draft class, Top 10
Pro Bowls: 0. AV over 1+ seasons, on average: 5.3 total, or 4.71 AV per player, per season; seven total seasons spent as a starter (’14 only).
1. Jadeveon Clowney, DE, Texans; 2. Greg Robinson, T, Rams; 3. Blake Bortles, QB, Jaguars; 4. Sammy Watkins, WR, Bills.
What’s the old adage about timing?
It’s not cinched yet that the Chiefs picked the “wrong” (go ahead and add the air quotes) tackle. But what’s indisputable is that they did pick the wrong year to be historically abysmal.
One of the rare occasions that the club had first dibs on the best quarterback or top wide-receiver prospect on the table, the leading options for the former were EJ Manuel and Geno Smith, while the latter offered Tavon Austin and DeAndre Hopkins. As gigawatts go, kids, that’s a tough sell. Even in hindsight.