Head to head: Drafting first round quarterback an unnecessary gamble for Chiefs

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Just one year after trading two second round picks for quarterback Alex Smith, the Kansas City Chiefs are reportedly interested in drafting a quarterback in the first round of the draft. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, contract negotiations between the Chiefs and Smith are not progressing smoothly and the team is keeping their “long-term options open.”

In 2013, Smith’s quarterback play for the Chiefs was at higher level than any one of the franchise’s previous signal callers in the last eight years. Kansas City finally has a quarterback who is not going to lose them games by turning the ball over. Quarterbacks like Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn, Brodie Croyle and Tyler Thigpen have ruined the Chiefs chances at winning since 2005. Frankly, before Smith’s arrival to Kansas City, production from Chiefs quarterbacks was an abomination.

Even the biggest Smith fan will confess that he is not an elite player, but the Chiefs have a stable option with him at the helm. Now, Smith will be in his second playing under head coach Andy Reid, who has a track record of getting the most out of his quarterbacks. Smith showed great improvement in his second year under coach Jim Harbaugh when he was with the San Francisco 49ers.

At worst, Smith is just an average to above-average quarterback. But, will anyone in this year’s draft be better than that? Blake Bortles and Johnny Manziel are the two highest rated quarterbacks in 2014, but many have them going in the top 10 picks. After that, there are a bunch of players that have a chance at being good, but could also be complete flops.

Teddy Bridgewater and Derek Carr have undeniable talent, but they also have warts that are making them fall down draft boards. Bridgewater’s accuracy and durability are a serious question mark. Carr, the younger brother of former number overall pick David Carr, played in a spread offense in college and often rushes his decisions while under pressure.

Most likely, if a quarterback fell to the Chiefs and they took him, that player would sit behind Smith for at least this season and possibly longer. Only when Smith’s contract is up at the end of the 2014 season would the drafted player take the reigns.

Meanwhile, Kansas City has other holes to fill in the draft if they want to have a decent 2014 season. They do not have a legitimate No. 2 wide receiver and have questions at guard, safety and linebacker. The Chiefs can fill one of those voids in the first round. Giving Smith someone to throw to, instead of assigning him an as understudy, is how this team can improve.

The Chiefs can get the most out of their current situation by re-signing Smith. It will take some of the team’s limited cap space to keep the quarterback, but it will be worth it. Smith is the most steady hand that has guided the offense since the days of former Pro Bowler Trent Green. Letting a proven player walk for the possibility of developing a prospect is asinine. Smith may not be the best quarterback in the NFL, but he’s currently the best possible option for Kansas City, and a pretty good one at that.

Austin Earl is a freshman in pre-journalism. Please send comments to sports@kstatecollegian.com.

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