If we had drafted Thigpen in the first round this year, would there still be talk of drafting a quarterback in the first round next year? Herm took a risk putting faith in an unproven Brodie Croyle last year, do you think he will take a risk in a somewhat proven Thigpen?
Nick Athan: I think there is little doubt that the Chiefs will draft a quarterback in rounds one or two. They have to hedge their bets in the event that Thigpen struggles down the stretch. He has skills and has shown leadership qualities but he's still only won a single game as a starter. Edwards put a lot of stock in Croyle but believes Tyler is a solid number two who can grow into a number one.
I don't think we're really going to be able to evaluate Thigpen this year, we're likely going to need the entire 2009 season. Edwards appears ready to let that happen, but the Chiefs will bring in another young quarterback just in case.
Michael Ash: If the Chiefs had drafted Thigpen in the first round of this year's draft, obviously there wouldn't be any talk about using another first-round pick on a quarterback. There's a significant investment made in players who go in the first round, one that requires more than a single season of evaluation. Most people seem to be disappointed by Glenn Dorsey's rookie season, but there's been no talk of drafting another defensive tackle to replace him.
I have no doubt that Edwards would feel comfortable going into next season with Thigpen as his quarterback. But the issue is, should an elite quarterback prospect fall into the Chiefs' lap on draft day, has Thigpen's play been so outstanding that the Chiefs can afford to pass on a potential franchise quarterback?
C.E. Wendler: There's already plenty of talk among fans that the Chiefs don't need to draft a quarterback in the first round because of Thipgen, so people are evidently quite high on him. As far as whether or not Herm Edwards will enter 2009 with Thigpen entrenched as starter, it's encouraging that he's taken a wait-and-see attitude with him, as Nick said.
At this point you might think Edwards would be desperate for any quarterback to take up and step a starting job, but apparently he's not going to just blindly put his faith in anyone that throws a few touchdown passes. That's actually fairly encouraging when you consider some of the players the Chiefs have stuck with regardless of their performance in the last three seasons.
Over the years the Chiefs have passed on drafting some good quarterbacks. Is that a sign they are not very good at evaluating quarterbacks?
Nick Athan: The Chiefs never developed a quarterback in their history as an organization going back to the Dallas Texans. Edwards wants to change that but Kansas City doesn't seem to have the touch at drafting a young quarterback. Of all the quarterbacks they've drafted the last three decades only Todd Blackledge and Steve Fuller showed brief flashes that they could win games.
If the Chiefs want to be NFL Champions someday they must strike gold on a young quarterback. Edwards at least has the experience of developing Chad Pennington in New York so that might be the elixir that has been missing for a long time.
Michael Ash: I don't think you can make the general statement "the Chiefs aren't good at evaluating quarterbacks" because the coaching staffs that make those evaluations have changed several times over the years. The one constant over time has been Carl Peterson.
Peterson hasn't been interested in drafting or developing a young quarterback. He'd rather bring in a veteran who's already gone through the ups-and-downs of learning the position so that the Chiefs will get solid play from their quarterback from day one. It's not a bad strategy in theory, but after 20 years it's been nice to see the team attempt something else.
C.E. Wendler: I don't buy that line one bit. From Paul Hackett, to Mike McCarthy, to Al Saunders, the Chiefs have had experienced offensive coaches over the years who have worked with good, young quarterbacks elsewhere in the league. Michael wants to blame Carl for the lack of a true franchise quarterback, but Carl himself has always pointed the finger at his head coaches in that regard.
There's merit in that, I don't think Peterson was just deflecting blame with that statement. Marty Schottenheimer was content with Jeff George in Washington, after all. Dick Vermeil certainly wasn't going to waste a year or two developing a young quarterback. So the Chiefs probably could have drafted and developed a young quarterback in the last 20 years, it just didn't fit the philosophy of their head coaches.
Do you see Flowers and Carr being our cornerbacks for years to come, and if so, what happens to Surtain in the offseason? What do you think we could get out of him if we try to trade him?
Nick Athan: Surtain is likely done in Kansas City. There is no doubt in my mind that the Chiefs, who owe Surtain $9 million in 2009, will cut him in late February. He's been injured all season long and with the development of Maurice Leggett, the Chiefs have three young corners they can count on.
There is no question Flowers is going to be an All-Pro. Carr has a little further to go but this year he's been the one defensive player that has been in every game. That experience will serve him well next year.
Michael Ash: I don't think there's much doubt about Flowers being around for the foreseeable future. Carr has had his ups and downs, but his ups have been high enough to suggest the potential is there. We shouldn't forget Maurice Leggett in the discussion either, as he's been improving every week since the Tampa game.
As for Patrick Surtain, there's something to be said for keeping a wily veteran around when the rest of the secondary is so young, but he's single-handedly accounted for nearly $10 million of the Chiefs' cap over each of the last two seasons. The team isn't in any cap trouble, but that's an awful lot to pay someone who's no longer starting. Considering Surtain's age and injuries, what he could get the Chiefs in a trade would probably be pretty minimal.
C.E. Wendler: The thing that's really been the most encouraging about Flowers and Carr is the lack of plays on which either has been beaten badly deep down the field. Typically, with young corners, at some point in their rookie year they get victimized on long pass plays. I vividly remember Andre Rison taking a young Charles Woodson to school his rookie year. Considering the Chiefs can't rush the passer, it's incredible that neither of KC's rookie corners have been burn victims.
The Chiefs did an outstanding job identifying and selecting cornerback talent last offseason. Because of that Surtain is now completely expendable. But on a positive note in his case, it's been nice to see him supporting his younger teammates even though he probably knows he won't be in Kansas City much longer.
What do you think the Chiefs chances of being good are next year?
Nick: Right now I'll go out on a limb and say Kansas City will go 8-8. It's real simple. If they draft three starters in the first three rounds add at least one stud linebacker and a pass rusher in free agency, the Chiefs could win the division next year if the ball bounces and they learn how to close out games.
The Chiefs are a lot closer to respectability right now than they've been at any point in the last two seasons. I look at the path the Dolphins and Falcons took a year removed from being god awful and believe the Chiefs will be that team in 2009.
Michael Ash: If they can solidify the right side of the offensive line and vastly improve at both linebacker and defensive end, the chances are pretty good. Unfortunately, the chances of all three areas being fixed over the offseason are pretty slim. But as long as they can make improvements at one of those areas, it could be the difference in a few extra wins next year.
C.E. Wendler: The Chiefs have plenty of holes, some that were present this last offseason and didn't get fixed. It's going to be difficult to fix all those mistakes in one offseason, especially with the defense taking such a giant step backwards. There's no reason to believe Tamba Hali or Turk McBride can give Kansas City a pass rush next season. Where are the linebackers? The Chiefs have to find at least one new starting safety.
As if those problems weren't enough the offensive line still needs help. Lets not even think about what might happen if Tyler Thigpen gets injured or regresses. Nick's prediction is optimistic, in my opinion.
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