A Pair of Puzzling Cuts

On Saturday the Chiefs made their final pre-season personnel moves to trim their roster down to 53 players. Two of the roster cuts stand out.

The decision to keep offensive lineman Will Svitek over wide receiver Craphonso Thorpe might be a mistake. Coaches like to use the phrase "you cannot coach size," which is probably the thinking for keeping Svitek over Thorpe, but you cannot coach speed either? Especially the kind of forty speed that clocks in at 4.34, speed that earned him the title of ACC Outdoor Track Performer of the Year in 2002.

Kids who are 6'0" tall and can run that fast don't grow on trees, and a coach should consider himself lucky if he stumbles upon one that is even slightly capable of catching a football (in case you've wondered Thorpe has shown really good hands in practice).

I first met Craphonso Thorpe during rookie camp at Arrowhead Stadium. The first day of practice concluded in the indoor practice facility and Thorpe was answering questions from the media. He actually made me laugh under my breath at the time as he was saying things like "I am like a mixture of Randy Moss and Terrell Owens" and "Learning the playbook should be easy; we had a complex offense at Florida State". I couldn't help but chuckle as I thought to myself "this kid has no idea what he's in for."

As rookie camp turned in to mini camp and mini camp into training camp, it was easy to see Craphonso getting better. All at once Thorpe was picking up the offense, improving on his route running and dazzling onlookers with tough catches on the sidelines. Even with his minor injury, he was beginning to look like a fourth round steal who had first day talent.

I may be alone in this, but as I watched Thorpe practice I was looking a year or two into the future for the Kansas City Chiefs. I envisioned seeing Sammie Parker and Craphonso Thorpe shredding NFL secondaries in the latter part of this decade to become the Chiefs' own version of Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt. Looking at his measurables, college stats and performance in practice, is there something about that notion that doesn't make sense?

As far as Svitek is concerned, I believe he is at least three years away from being what I would consider a back up caliber player on the offensive line. Though he may be a talented wedge buster on special teams, he needs to spend a couple of years in NFL Europe and the developmental squad before stepping into the role of offensive tackle. So by the time Svitek is ready as a back up, Craphonso Thorpe could be a 1,000-yard, 10-touchdown receiver. Chiefs fans had better hope Thorpe makes it through waivers and reaches the practice squad, because if he doesn't this could prove to be a Joe Horn type of mistake.

The decision to keep Damon Huard over Jonathan Quinn was another roster move I found a bit disturbing. After Quinn's strong performance in Friday's pre-season game against the Rams, I went to sleep thinking he was a shoe-in to win the job as the team's third quarterback. Even though he threw two interceptions, he looked exceptionally sharp for a quarterback who was picked up off of the street and hadn't practiced with the team for quite sometime. I thought he managed to show some strong poise in the pocket despite being heavily pressured, and he also had a nice touch on several deep passes down the right sideline to Jeris McIntyre.

On the other side of the coin is Damon Huard has not looked good this offseason. He's been very unimpressive. Throughout the preseason, I was convinced that he played himself out of a job and the Chiefs would chose to keep rookie James Killian on the 53 man roster as their third quarterback.

Once Quinn stepped it up against the Rams, it seemed the Chiefs' decision would be that much easier. Now it appears that the Chiefs' minds were already made up regardless of how well Quinn performed.

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