We’re finally done opening the doors on TFQ’s NFL Draft Advent Calendar! (Goddamn you, you 24/7/365 league.) This is our Christmas – when NFL teams get to decide what sort of new toys they get under the tree to play with next season.
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Door #32-The Chiefs
2012 finish: 2-14; missed playoffs
TOTAL PICKS: 7
36 (204) (compensatory selection)
Oh, the Chiefs. What positives were there last season? For starters, Kansas City never got started. In fact, it took a TD by running back Jamaal Charles in Week 10 against the Steelers before the Chiefs had even held a lead in a game in 2012. Week Ten! (KC actually beat the Saints in Week 3, but the win came in overtime, so they never held a lead during a game.) Put differently, it took 489 minutes of regulation time for the Chiefs to be on top. Even Ron Howard’s brother, Clint has an easier time getting on top than that.
Strange, Ron is so damn attractive…. At any rate, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com, the 1929 Buffalo Bisons – no, not the minor league baseball team that Buffalo goes ape shit over, but an old NFL team – went until their ninth and final game of the season to hold a lead in a game. That is the all-time longest such streak record, and had Kansas City not lead during the Steelers game they would have set a new…standard?
The Bisons folded after that disastrous season. The Chiefs seem to have risen anew after hiring Andy Reid to head coach the team – and likely as much input in the personnel decisions as he did in Philly, when he was considered the de facto GM. But before that could happen, the franchise had to go through even tougher times. To start off December, linebacker Jovan Belcher murdered his girlfriend, 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins, then drove to the team practice facility and shot himself in the head – in front of general manager Scott Pioli and head coach Romeo Crennel. And then there was the time the home crowd cheered when starting QB Matt Cassel got concussed out of the game. In came the backup, Dr. Brady Quinn, Medicine Woman, and things kept sucking. Hard. Pioli and Crennel were both fired, but in a certain sense no one could blame them for wanting out anyway, having to drive to work every day and park in the same lot that they saw Belcher die in.
Former Eagles head coach Andy Reid had his share of suitors after his impressive tenure in Philadelphia ended last season, but he chose Kansas City. Shortly after that, the franchise started making waves, dealing their second round pick in this year’s draft and a conditional third round pick in 2014 for Niners QB Alex Smith. The writing was on the wall in San Francisco for Smith when, after he went down with a concussion, Colin Kaepernick started taking the NFL by storm. The moment Niners head coach Jim Harbaugh went with Smith, he became the darling of the available/possibly available quarterbacks this offseason.
If you ask me, there’s only one reason that this move works for Andy Reid, and that’s if he can work his typical magic and make yet another pivot seem better than he actually is. (Ty Detmer, A.J. Feeley, Kevin Kolb, Michael Vick – c’mon.) Harbaugh isn’t such a bad QB whisperer himself; he took the most disappointing top quarterback drafted this century other than JaMarcus Russell and made him a SERVICEABLE starter. Consider: in Smith’s first 5 seasons, he threw 53 picks – an average of 10.6 per season. That doesn’t sound too bad, except for the fact that Smith played in more than 11 games in a season just once during that span (16, in 2006; 16 interceptions). In just 25 games with Harbaugh (roughly one and two-thirds of a season), Smith threw just ten picks.
Can Reid divine the same results from Smith? Probably. But the Niners depended on the best all-around defensive roster, a great running game and solid special teams to help cover up the fact that Smith either can’t make the precise intermediate-to-deep throws needed of a quality QB, or he doesn’t have the proper mental makeup to pull the trigger. Good luck with that, Reid. The NFL has no patience; there is always pressure to win now. The Chiefs likely took Smith because this season’s quarterback draft class isn’t a strong one, and as such they were never going to spend the first overall pick on one. Pressure: Teams are virtually unwilling to go a season with a bad starting quarterback if they can help it.
Because of the Smith trade, Kansas City has to sit on their hands and watch 61 more players get taken after using the first overall pick. That’s a long, agonizing time to wait in a draft loaded with talent around the range of picks 20-60 while you’re pseudo-rebuilding. I use the term “pseudo” here because not only did the Chiefs address several issues already this offseason – Smith, WR Dwayne Bowe’s new contract, and the additions of role players like TE Anthony Fasano via free agency –Pioli also left his replacement John Dorsey and Reid with a much better roster than the team’s 2-win record in 2012 would indicate. In other words, this team doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel now that it has already filled so many holes, namely the head coaching position. (Let’s be honest – did anyone really, truly believe that Crennel would turn out to be much more than a babysitter until a bigger name was lassoed? It didn’t help that the babysitter lost the kids in the dryer.)
I’m not going to opine on what the Chiefs will do with their third round pick. There are worlds of drama and ripple effects that will happen before that. Their first pick is almost sure to be an offensive tackle – either Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel or Central Michigan’s Eric Fisher. This won’t be an eve-of first draft pick – the Chiefs are going to sit on this pick to entertain trades. They’re also rumored to be working on a deal to move OT Branden Albert to the Dolphins. If that goes through, they might get all giggly and take Florida defensive tackle Shariff Floyd – lord knows they need serious help on the interior of the D-line. But it will most likely be either Fisher of Joeckel. I admit – I fell in love with Fisher during Senior Bowl practice. He was that kind of sit-up-in-your-chair, “who the fuck is that?” guy. He’s got great feet, balance, and demeanor in interviews. There’s no realistic way to say that Kansas City would go wrong with Joeckel either. I just really like Fisher. He makes things look easy. Then again, we’ll see if things look easy against opponents the likes of which Central Michigan never sees.
It’s not much, but there’s more intrigue on the first pick leading up to Thursday than there has been in a while – fitting, because this could turn out to be a very interesting draft.
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THIS CONCLUDES OUR NFL DRAFT ADVENT CALENDAR FOR 2013! HOPE YOU ATE SOME CHEAP-ASS CHOCOLATE EACH TIME, LIKE WHEN WE WERE KIDS WITH OUR OWN ADVENTS. FOLLOW US @TFQuarter DURING THE FIRST ROUND FOR LIVE TWEETS.