Alex Over Geno Smith: Kansas City Chiefs’ History of Thrift-Store QBs

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Mar 01, 2013



By Scott Kacsmar
Cold Hard Football Facts’ Comeback King (@CaptainComeback)

Don’t you cry no more, Kansas City fans. Matt Cassel is on his way out after four tumultuous seasons.

But before you get too excited, the Andy Reid era has already started with a monumental move by passing on West Virginia’s Geno Smith with the first pick in the draft and acquiring Alex Smith (turns 29 in May) in a trade with the San Francisco 49ers.

The trade is not finalized yet, but when complete the 49ers will get Kansas City’s second-round (34th overall) pick in the draft and a conditional mid-round pick in the 2014 draft.

Many of the NFL’s success stories have started with a team bringing in a new head coach and quarterback together, and one of those stories was Reid in Philadelphia when he drafted Donovan McNabb No. 2 overall in 1999. That did not produce a Super Bowl win, but they came close.

No quarterback drafted by the Chiefs has won a regular-season start for the team since Todd Blackledge did on September 13, 1987. That streak of 414 games will likely stay intact as the Chiefs move forward with another veteran.

Should you have expected anything else?

Since taking Blackledge 20 spots ahead of Dan Marino in the famed 1983 draft, the Chiefs have done nothing but draft duds, miss out on studs and sign just about any veteran, retread or reclamation project they could find at quarterback.

The Chiefs like to shop at the thrift store for their quarterbacks, and you would think having two seasons (1991 and 1993) with a playoff win in the last 43 years would be a sign this has to change.

Here is a look back at the Chiefs’ quarterback shopping history. No refunds allowed.

 

Chiefs: A tribe full of nomadic quarterbacks

 

With apologies to Rich Gannon, that is some collection of 15 signal callers, all of which were not drafted by Kansas City, but started games for them since 1988.

There are Hall of Fame players like Joe Montana and Warren Moon, and then there are the likes of Tyler Palko and Brady Quinn. Not every player is featured, such as Quinn Gray, Todd Collins, Mark Vlasic and Steve Pelluer all missing.

It is easy to see why the drafted quarterbacks have not panned out for the Chiefs when you view the full list of them. Here are those 10 players drafted since 1984, and with the stats they had for only the Chiefs.

Kansas City Chiefs' Drafted Quarterbacks Since 1984: Team Stats

Year

Rnd

Pick

QB

GP

GS

Record

Cmp.

Att.

Yds

TD

INT

PR

2011

5

135

Ricky Stanzi

0

0

N/A

-

-

-

-

-

-

2006

3

85

Brodie Croyle

18

10

0-10

181

319

1669

8

9

67.8

2005

7

229

James Kilian

0

0

N/A

-

-

-

-

-

-

1997

4

110

Pat Barnes

0

0

N/A

-

-

-

-

-

-

1995

4

134

Steve Stenstrom

0

0

N/A

-

-

-

-

-

-

1994

7

199

Steve Matthews

0

0

N/A

-

-

-

-

-

-

1992

2

40

Matt Blundin

2

0

N/A

2

8

15

0

1

0.0

1989

2

32

Mike Elkins

1

0

N/A

1

2

5

0

1

16.7

1988

11

282

Danny McManus

0

0

N/A

-

-

-

-

-

-

1987

7

186

Doug Hudson

1

1

0-1

0

1

0

0

0

39.6

Totals (10 Quarterbacks)

22

11

0-11

184

330

1689

8

11

64.1

How many insults can one make from this list?

There is the 0-11 record, or the fact that only two of these 10 players ever started for the Chiefs. Doug Hudson had his one chance in a 1987 replacement game, and he lasted two drives before being replaced following his fumbled snap that resulted in a safety for Denver.

Brodie Croyle is the only 0-10 quarterback in the database at Pro-Football-Reference. Maybe his last hope is for Curtis Painter (0-8 as starter) to get three more opportunities to start.

At least Croyle came in the third round in 2006. Mike Elkins and Matt Blundin were second-round picks that amounted to absolutely nothing in the NFL. They are also the highest picks the Chiefs have used, which also says a lot. Kansas City moved up seven spots to take Blundin at No. 40 by giving Dallas the 74th pick in the 1992 draft.

Ricky Stanzi must be so bad he could never get a start ahead of Matt Cassel, Tyler Palko or Brady Quinn the last two years.

No wins and eight touchdown passes? Robert Griffin III basically established himself as having a better NFL career than all 10 of these players combined after Week 1 last season. Even Brandon Weeden had nine touchdown passes and a win (over playoff-bound Cincinnati) after seven games with Cleveland.

Before we overdose on awfulness, let’s look at the full list of the 25 quarterbacks the Chiefs have seen throw a regular-season pass since 1988. Obviously better results here, but again, not utilizing guys from the draft:

Kansas City Chiefs' Quarterbacks: Regular-Season Stats (1988-2012)

Player

Years

GP

GS

Rec.

Cmp

Att

%

Yds

TD

INT

PR

Trent Green

2001-06

88

88

48-40-0

1720

2777

61.9

21459

118

85

87.3

Steve DeBerg

1988-91

57

52

31-20-1

934

1616

57.8

11873

67

50

81.8

Elvis Grbac

1997-00

49

47

26-21-0

897

1548

57.9

10643

66

47

80.6

Matt Cassel

2009-12

48

47

19-28-0

854

1489

57.4

9549

59

44

77.5

Steve Bono

1994-96

37

31

21-10-0

594

1075

55.3

6489

37

27

74.3

Joe Montana

1993-94

25

25

17-8-0

480

791

60.7

5427

29

16

85.0

Damon Huard

2004-08

26

21

10-11-0

404

657

61.5

4612

24

18

83.3

Rich Gannon

1995-98

27

19

11-8-0

365

630

57.9

3997

23

11

81.7

Dave Krieg

1992-93

28

21

13-8-0

335

602

55.6

4353

22

15

80.4

Tyler Thigpen

2007-09

16

11

1-10-0

232

426

54.5

2649

18

13

74.7

Brodie Croyle

2006-10

18

10

0-10-0

181

319

56.7

1669

8

9

67.8

Brady Quinn

2012-

10

8

1-7-0

112

197

56.9

1141

2

8

60.1

Tyler Palko

2010-11

8

4

1-3-0

84

140

60.0

831

2

7

60.7

Bill Kenney

1980-88

16

5

0-5-0

58

114

50.9

549

0

5

46.3

Kyle Orton

2011

4

3

2-1-0

59

97

60.8

779

1

2

81.1

Ron Jaworski

1989

6

3

1-2-0

36

61

59.0

385

2

5

54.3

Steve Pelluer

1989-90

18

3

1-1-1

28

52

53.8

315

1

1

70.6

Mark Vlasic

1991-92

6

1

0-1-0

28

44

63.6

316

2

0

100.2

Warren Moon

1999-00

3

1

0-1-0

16

37

43.2

228

1

1

61.5

Todd Collins

2001-05

13

0

N/A

18

27

66.7

229

1

0

105.3

Quinn Gray

2008

1

0

N/A

7

8

87.5

76

1

0

145.8

Matt Blundin

1993-94

2

0

N/A

2

8

25.0

15

0

1

0.0

Mike Elkins

1989

1

0

N/A

1

2

50.0

5

0

1

16.7

Matt Gutierrez

2009

1

0

N/A

1

1

100.0

3

0

0

79.2

Billy Joe Tolliver

1997

3

0

N/A

1

1

100.0

-8

0

0

79.2

There are your last 400 games for the Chiefs. In that time the overall record is 203-195-2 (.510). Alex Smith is 38-36-1 (.513) in his career with half the wins coming in the last two seasons.

Of the 25 players, 19 started at least one game. Eleven started at least 10 games. Here is a review of how the Chiefs acquired the 19 starters:

Chiefs' Starting QBs (1988-2012): How They Were Acquired

Player

Years

GP

GS

Rec.

How KC Acquired

Brodie Croyle

2006-10

18

10

0-10-0

Draft (2006; 3.85)

Bill Kenney

1980-88

16

5

0-5-0

Free agent

Ron Jaworski

1989

6

3

1-2-0

Free agent

Mark Vlasic

1991-92

6

1

0-1-0

Free agent (SD)

Dave Krieg

1992-93

28

21

13-8-0

Free agent (SEA)

Rich Gannon

1995-98

27

19

11-8-0

Free agent

Elvis Grbac

1997-00

49

47

26-21-0

Free agent (SF)

Warren Moon

1999-00

3

1

0-1-0

Free agent (SEA)

Damon Huard

2004-08

26

21

10-11-0

Free agent (NE)

Tyler Thigpen

2007-09

16

11

1-10-0

Free agent

Tyler Palko

2010-11

8

4

1-3-0

Free agent

Kyle Orton

2011

4

3

2-1-0

Free agent (DEN)

Brady Quinn

2012-

10

8

1-7-0

Free agent (DEN)

Steve DeBerg

1988-91

57

52

31-20-1

Trade (TB)

Steve Pelluer

1989-90

18

3

1-1-1

Trade (DAL)

Joe Montana

1993-94

25

25

17-8-0

Trade (SF)

Steve Bono

1994-96

37

31

21-10-0

Trade (SF)

Trent Green

2001-06

88

88

48-40-0

Trade (RAM)

Matt Cassel

2009-12

48

47

19-28-0

Trade (NE)

Final count: one drafted, 12 free agents and six trades.

Of the nine players with at least 500 pass attempts, seven of them did have a winning record as a starter, and seven of them did have a passer rating of at least 80.0. The only player who failed to do both was Cassel. Those are actually decent numbers, but not elite.

If you wanted someone consistently successful behind center, it just has not been there for the Chiefs. Trent Green had the stats, but not enough wins. Montana and DeBerg were too old to sustain success.

A long-term answer never developed for the Chiefs.

 

A history of Chiefs’ quarterbacks (1987-2012)

You have seen the names, now let’s learn a bit more about their Kansas City story.

 

1987: The last win by a drafted Kansas City quarterback

As mentioned before, the season-opening game of the 1987 season was the last time the Chiefs won a game by starting a quarterback they actually drafted.

The funny thing about that game, a 20-13 win over San Diego, was how little Todd Blackledge contributed to the win. He was just 6-of-15 for 79 yards, four sacks, an interception and a 29.6 passer rating. After San Diego tied the game late, Paul Palmer returned the ensuing kickoff 95 yards for the game-winning touchdown with 3:19 left.

Needless to say, Blackledge was a big disappointment in his career and was traded to the Steelers in 1988. The Chiefs somehow got a fourth-round pick for him.

 

1988: Last chance for Mr. Irrelevant

The Chiefs opened the 1988 season with Bill Kenney behind center. We talked about his career in detail last summer in an interesting comparison to Aaron Rodgers, so check that out for more on Kenney.

A former Mr. Irrelevant, Kenney was in his ninth and final season with the Chiefs. It did not go well with Kenney losing all five of his starts and posting a 46.3 passer rating.

Kansas City turned to 34-year-old journeyman Steve DeBerg, who was acquired via trade from Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers got safety Mark Robinson and the Chiefs’ fourth-round pick (86th overall).

DeBerg had a bit more success, though the team finished 4-11-1.

 

1989: Martyball, Carl Peterson and DT

Big changes came to the Chiefs in 1989 when the team hired head coach Marty Schottenheimer from Cleveland, appointed Carl Peterson as team president/general manager, and selected Hall of Fame sack-master Derrick Thomas with the No. 4 pick in the draft.

The playoffs would soon consistently follow, but first an 8-7-1 season in which DeBerg started 10 games, struggled at times, while the Chiefs also had 38-year-old veteran Ron Jaworski make three starts.

Backup Steve Pelluer came over from Dallas via trade after their retooling under Jimmy Johnson, and he started three games as well.

Pelluer would also back up DeBerg in 1990, but it is hard to say he was worth the third-round pick in 1990 and fourth-round pick in 1991 the Chiefs gave up for him. See how good the Cowboys were at building that dynasty?

 

1990-91: DeBerg’s career season and playoff win

It was in 1990 when things clicked for DeBerg, throwing 23 touchdowns to only four interceptions with a 96.3 passer rating. The Chiefs were 11-5 and in the playoffs, but suffered one of Dan Marino’s finest fourth-quarter comebacks in the Wild Card round.

A year later DeBerg fell back to reality with 14 interceptions, but the Chiefs still won 10 games and even a playoff game over the Raiders. However they would be beaten thoroughly by Buffalo, 37-14, in the Divisional round.

During the 1991 season DeBerg was actually benched for fourth-year nobody Mark Vlasic, who led a comeback win in overtime. Vlasic would get the start the following week in San Francisco, but his injury put DeBerg back into the starting role for the rest of the season.

DeBerg went back to Tampa Bay for the 1992 season while Vlasic stayed on as a Kansas City backup for one more year.

 

1992: Getting another old quarterback

Well DeBerg was a good pickup at age 34, so why not try it again? The Chiefs signed 34-year-old free agent Dave Krieg from the Seattle Seahawks on March 19, 1992. He would take every snap for the team in 1992, which was another one-and-done finish in the Wild Card round.

The Chiefs had the third-fewest pass attempts in the league, and Krieg had only thrown 15 touchdown passes. Despite being ranked 25th in offensive yards, the Chiefs ranked No. 7 in scoring. But that was thanks to 11 return touchdowns.

The mediocre offense needed a spark, and the team would find one from an unexpected source.

 

1993-94: The Montana years

On April 20, 1993, the previously unthinkable happened: San Francisco traded Joe Montana to the Chiefs.

The Chiefs received Montana, safety David Whitmore and San Francisco’s third-round pick in 1994. The 49ers received Kansas City’s first-round pick (No. 18), which eventually was traded to the Cardinals, who selected tackle Ernest Dye.

He was 37, had not played a significant game since the 1990 season, but this was still Montana. However, Krieg would start five games as Montana missed time with injury, but the two combined to lead the Chiefs to an 11-5 record.

In the playoffs Montana led memorable comebacks against Pittsburgh and the Houston Oilers. But he failed to finish the AFC Championship in Buffalo, while Krieg, playing in his last game with the Chiefs before moving on to Detroit, could not complete the comeback.

In 1994 the Chiefs traded for Steve Bono from San Francisco (where else?) to back up Montana, who started 14 games in his final season. Kansas City did make the playoffs, but this time there was no magic as Marino shut the door on the Chiefs again in the Wild Card round.

Montana announced his retirement after the season. For two years of excitement the Chiefs have not really had in any other season since the merger, the trade and aggressive approach to getting a quarterback was definitely worth it.

 

1995-96: Bono, you too can start

With Montana gone, the Chiefs handed the starting job over to Bono, who actually had a Pro Bowl season and led Kansas City to a 13-3 record; the league’s best record in 1995. But a heartbreaking loss to the Colts in the playoffs ended the season prematurely.

Not even backup Rich Gannon, who was signed as a free agent in 1995, could finish the comeback off the bench, as kicker Lin Elliott missed three big ones in a 10-7 loss.

Elliott never kicked again in the NFL, but Bono and the Chiefs failed to maintain their success in 1996 when the team finished 9-7 and missed the playoffs. Bono was released after the season.

 

1997-00: Grbac, Gannon, Gunther, Grrr….

Oops, they did it again. In 1997 the Chiefs signed free-agent quarterback Elvis Grbac, who was Steve Young’s successful backup in San Francisco. Think of Grbac as one of the original Matt Cassel/Matt Flynn-type quarterbacks; a guy who looked legit playing in a great system with amazing talent.

To his credit, the team was successful at first under Grbac, going 8-2 when he started. They were also 5-1 with Gannon starting, and both quarterbacks posted very similar statistics.

But it was Grbac in the playoffs, and it was another crushing 14-10 loss at home to rival Denver, who would go on to win the next two Super Bowls.

Grbac struggled in 1998, playing with injuries and posting an ugly 5:12 touchdown-to-interception ratio (53.1 passer rating). Gannon was solid in 10 starts (5-5 record with 80.1 passer rating), but he left to Oakland as a free agent in 1999. Of course he went on to have an excellent four-year run there, winning MVP in 2002.

Warren Moon, at ages 43-44, was the backup in 1999-2000, making just one start. Todd Collins was actually on the team from 1998-2005, never making a single start.

Gunther Cunningham took over as head coach in 1999, but Grbac never led the Chiefs back to the playoffs, finishing 9-7 in 1999 despite a decent statistical season (22 touchdowns, 15 interceptions, 81.7 passer rating).

He was even better in 2000 with 4,169 yards, 28 touchdowns, 14 interceptions, 89.9 passer rating, and making the Pro Bowl, but the Chiefs only finished 7-9. Grbac went on to sign a five-year, $30 million contract to play for the Ravens. He lasted one season.

Once again the Chiefs were in the market for a quarterback, but Brad Johnson went to Tampa Bay, Michael Vick required the first pick in the draft, and as for Drew Brees (No. 32), well watch what happened.

 

2001-05: The Dick Vermeil era

In 2001 the Chiefs went in a new direction by hiring 65-year-old Dick Vermeil, which actually cost the Chiefs the 42nd overall pick in the 2001 draft. They had to give it to the Rams for compensation for Vermeil, who last coached a Super Bowl win for the 1999 Rams.

That was with Kurt Warner at quarterback, though it was supposed to be journeyman Trent Green, who suffered a season-ending injury in the preseason. Green looked great with the loaded 2000 Rams’ offense.

With a need at quarterback, Vermeil went after his desired guy, trading the 12th overall pick in the draft to the Rams to get Green (and a fifth-round pick that became RB Derrick Blaylock). Green was 29, been through numerous injuries, and only had 19 starts at the time.

In perfect hindsight, it would have been nice to take Brees with that No. 12 pick, but given Brees went 32nd, it was probably a reach. If only we could predict the future…

Green struggled in 2001, throwing a league-worst 24 interceptions as the Chiefs went 6-10 despite a collection of talent like Tony Gonzalez, Priest Holmes, Tony Richardson, Eddie Kennison, Brian Waters and Will Shields.

Throw in Willie Roaf at left tackle in 2002, and the Chiefs got the offense firing on all cylinders. For the next four years it was one of the top offenses in football.

Green did start all 80 games at quarterback for Vermeil (2001-05), going 44-36 (.550), and it was one of the best stretches of quarterback play in the league at that time.

However, the defense was never up to par, and the Chiefs would only make the playoffs once (2003) under Vermeil, losing 38-31 to the Colts in a game with zero punts.

Even with the defense, the offense rarely seized the moment in close games. In Kansas City, Green was 13-24 (.351) at fourth-quarter comeback opportunities, and 16-27 (.372) at overall game-winning drive opportunities.

Vermeil retired for good after the 2005 season, and Green made the Pro Bowl for the second time, but was going to be 36 years old.

 

2006-08: You play to win 15 out of 48 games

The offensive fireworks were over, and have yet to return in Kansas City. The team went with Herm Edwards as head coach, and thought they drafted a steal with Brodie Croyle in the third round.

After Green suffered a concussion, the steal ended up being veteran Damon Huard, an under-the-radar backup who actually was on the team since 2004. Huard went 4-1 as a starter in place of Dan Marino on the 1999 Dolphins, but was a NFL ghost afterwards.

In 2006 Huard had one of those fluky low-interception seasons, not unlike DeBerg, throwing just one interception on 244 passes. It led to a 98.0 passer rating, and Huard was 5-3 as a starter.

However, the Chiefs did go back to Green, who had a brain like scrambled eggs for the remainder of the season. He could not get the offense to produce, and after the Chiefs snuck into the playoffs at 9-7, they were quickly eliminated by the Colts again in the Wild Card round by a 23-8 final.

Green was done in Kansas City, but Huard never repeated his success, throwing 13 touchdowns and 17 interceptions the next two seasons, while going 5-8 as a starter. He was released after 2008.

The Chiefs won just six more games under Edwards, who was 15-33 (.313) as coach. He was fired after a 2-14 finish in 2008.

Croyle was given a shot in 2007, finishing 0-6 as a starter. The team also signed Tyler Thigpen that year as a backup.

In 2008 Thigpen had his chance to start after injuries to Huard and Croyle, and with new offensive coordinator Chan Gailey implementing the spread offense, he had some mild success on a poor team, throwing 18 touchdowns and rushing for three more in 11 starts.

But Thigpen was 1-10 as a starter and would be traded to Miami early in the 2009 season. The Chiefs were going to move on to another new era.

 

2009-12: New England’s leftovers

The Chiefs thought they struck gold. In the 2008 season opener, Patriot killer Bernard Pollard made a name for himself when his hit tore Tom Brady’s ACL, ending his season. In came Matt Cassel, a quarterback who had not started since high school.

The results were an 11-5 season, the Patriots scored 25 points per game, Cassel had solid numbers, and the offense led the league in first downs. If Scott Mitchell, Elvis Grbac and Matt Schaub received starting jobs for less, you knew Cassel was going to be a hot name following the season.

None of it would have been possible without the Chiefs ending Brady’s 2008 season.

Then sure enough, Bill Belichick’s old general manager Scott Pioli took the same job (replacing Peterson) in Kansas City in 2009, and they orchestrated the Cassel trade: the Chiefs received Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel; the Patriots received the 34th overall pick in the draft.

Imagine that, it is the 34th pick in this year’s draft the Chiefs have used to land Smith. Better hope it is not a full déjà vu, because Cassel did not work out.

That summer Cassel signed a six-year contract extension worth $63 million. His first season under new head coach Todd Haley was a poor one, finishing 4-11 as a starter with a 69.9 passer rating.

Croyle registered his ninth loss as a starter, for those keeping track at home.

In 2010 the Chiefs added Charlie Weis as offensive coordinator, and Cassel took advantage of a favorable schedule to have a Pro Bowl season and lead the Chiefs to the playoffs with a 10-6 record. He was actually 10-5 in the games he played, as Croyle made his 10th and final start (and loss) for the Chiefs.

But after Weis announced he would take the coaching job in Florida, the Chiefs had a horrific final two games on offense. This carried over into 2011 when the Chiefs were outscored 89-10 in the first two games of the season.

Though Cassel rebounded somewhat to have an average season, it was another disappointing finish, missing seven games with injury and finishing on injured reserve. That prompted the team to start Tyler Palko, who had been with the Chiefs since 2010, but was a turnover machine against elite teams like New England and Pittsburgh.

The Chiefs had to sign Kyle Orton, who cleared waivers after being released by Denver. Of course Tim Tebow’s rise to fame prompted that, which was the basis of our look at the ultimate butterfly effect that decided the 2011 season.

Haley was fired during the season and replaced by defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel. He named Orton the starting quarterback, and in their first game together, they ended the Green Bay Packers’ historic 19-game winning streak.

This win also likely paved the way for the Chiefs’ 2012 failure, as not surprisingly the team promoted Crennel to head coach following the season. Orton went to Dallas, and Crennel reunited with his Cleveland bust Brady Quinn as a free agent.

Cassel and Quinn both went 1-7 as starters as the Chiefs had one of the worst seasons in franchise history. It took them nine games to even hold a lead in regulation. The only good news is you get the first pick in the draft, and the ramifications are no longer as bad if you fail with it.

The 2-14 Chiefs somehow sent five players to the Pro Bowl, but not surprisingly Crennel was fired after one full year on the job. Pioli was also canned.

Now the Chiefs look ahead to yet another new era with Andy Reid and apparently Alex Smith as the latest San Francisco treat.

 

Some day Kansas City will find “the guy”

While teams like the Dolphins and Bills continue to look for the next Dan Marino and Jim Kelly this 21st century, the Chiefs have never truly replaced Len Dawson after he retired following the 1975 season.

Even though he too was a sixth-year castoff from the NFL, Dawson remains the best quarterback in Chiefs’ history, playing 14 years with the club.

Kansas City is 3-11 in the playoffs without Dawson, and two of those wins were thanks to the playoff heroics of Joe Montana, who was arguably the greatest quarterback ever. Kansas City has lost seven consecutive playoff games since (four at home), scoring more than 17 points just once.

If the only other win you can manage is a 10-6 snoozer over the Raiders thanks to four interceptions by Todd Marinovich in 1991, then you have been doing it wrong for roughly four decades now.

A franchise quarterback is when you have someone who stays a long time and consistently leads your team to success. The Chiefs have tried to get that player without using the high pick and without doing the grooming themselves. Not every day does a situation present itself like Drew Brees in 2006 or Peyton Manning last year.

Oh, and the Chiefs were one of the teams Manning passed on, instead going to rival Denver. Ouch.

Holding the No. 1 pick in the draft this year, that is usually the golden ticket to selecting a franchise quarterback. But alas, the Chiefs hold it in a year with a lackluster quarterback class.

Looking back, the Chiefs really did not miss out on many quarterbacks in the draft that they had a realistic shot to get. With perfect hindsight, you can argue:

  • Brett Favre (No. 33) should have been taken in 1991 instead of running back Harvey Williams (No. 21).
  • Apparently everyone missed on Tom Brady (No. 199 in the sixth round) multiple times in 2000.
  • In 2005 with a 35-year-old Trent Green on the roster, getting Aaron Rodgers (No. 24) at No. 15 instead of Derrick Johnson would be the pick. Interesting to note Chiefs have had fellow draft mates Cassel, Orton and now Smith.
  • Joe Flacco (No. 18) at No. 5 instead of Glenn Dorsey would have been considered a huge reach in 2008.
  • The 2009 Chiefs picked Tyson Jackson (No. 3), a big mistake, but the reason they did not go for Mark Sanchez (No. 5) or Josh Freeman (No. 17) is because of the Cassel trade that offseason.
  • Cassel’s 2010 playoff season, also known as fool’s gold when he beat up on a weak schedule, is also the reason why in the 2011 draft the team took receiver Jonathan Baldwin (No. 26) when Andy Dalton (No. 35) and Colin Kaepernick (No. 36) were available.
  • Finally, in 2012 the team selected tackle Donald Stephenson with the 74th overall pick, or right in front of Russell Wilson (No. 75). That should be one to rue.

Remember, that is perfect hindsight, and not all of these moves would be guaranteed to work.

So other than that, nothing that probably would have made a huge difference, unless you think it is realistic to trade up to the No. 1 pick and take someone like Troy Aikman, Drew Bledsoe, Peyton Manning, Matthew Stafford, Sam Bradford or Cam Newton.

Kansas City was just one year too late this time. Not even the Chiefs could have screwed up the 2012 draft, passing on both Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. They would have had their guy a year ago, but the stars just did not align.

When have they for the Chiefs?

Oh they did bring Montana from San Francisco to Kansas City, just like Smith now. Yet, this is so not like Montana in 1993. The Chiefs also smuggled – though not always directly – Steve DeBerg, Steve Bono and Elvis Grbac across state lines to playoff seasons, but is a fifth 49er the long-term answer over the top-rated quarterback prospect in the 2013 draft?

If Geno Smith goes on to have a long, successful career while Alex Smith does not pan out, this will be the one to remember for Chiefs fans. That 34th pick (and one next year) is still a very valuable commodity.

One good thought is that Alex Smith avoids turnovers at an elite level, which was once a characteristic of Andy Reid’s West Coast offense. They may be able to work well together, but it is not like Smith comes in with a track record of success much longer than Cassel’s.

In the end, a No. 1 overall pick named Smith will try and lead the Chiefs back to glory, but only time will tell if it is the right one.

Given their history, can you really trust that the Chiefs have made the right decision on a quarterback?

 

Scott Kacsmar is a football writer/researcher who has contributed large quantities of data to Pro-Football-Reference.com, including the only standardized database of fourth quarter comebacks and game-winning drives. You can visit his blog for a complete writing archive. Please send any questions or comments to Scott at smk_42@yahoo.com, or you can follow him on Twitter at @CaptainComeback.


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