In retrospect, the Kansas City Chiefs were lousy one year too early.
By going a hideous 2-14 in 2012, the Chiefs earned the No. 1 overall pick in the 2013 NFL draft.
It turned out to be a good news, bad-news scenario. The Chiefs had the pick of all the litter, but it was a pick of litter of what many have called the worst draft in NFL history, at least based on first-year performances.
The Chiefs brass decided to draft offensive tackle Eric Fisher. At the time it filled an obvious need because the Chiefs wanted to do everything they could to protect new quarterback Alex Smith and the offensive line was in transition.
Fisher started the majority of the season. And according to some stat geeks, he was among the worst in the NFL at his position in terms of allowing sacks, missing blocks and other criteria.
In fairness to Fisher, he was playing right tackle after being a left tackle in college. I can remember ESPN talking heads Mel Kiper Jr. and Todd McShay gushing about him, how the Chiefs had found a fixture for the next 10 years. The Chiefs had it down between Fisher and another offensive lineman, Luke Joeckel, who went No. 2 to Jacksonville and saw his season end early because of an injury.
How bad was the 2013 draft? I look at the list of the Top 10 picks and not one made a huge impact. Dion Jordan? Lane Johnson? Who the heck is Ziggy Ansah, who went to Detroit at No. 5? For the record, the rest of the forgettable Top 10 included Barkevious Mingo, Joanthan Cooper, Tavon Austin, Dee Milliner and Chance Warmack.
Quick, name the teams those guys play for.
When I look at the rest of the list of last year’s No. 1s, it’s a virtual cast of “Who’s he?” Former Hutchinson Juco star Cordarrelle Patterson, who played for Minnesota, might have had the best season of the No. 1s. In fact, the Offensive Rookie of the Year was Eddie Lacy of Green Bay, who wasn’t chosen in the first round, and the Defensive Rookie of the Year was the New York Jets’ Sheldon Richardson, who was simply the pick because nobody else stood out. At least he was a first-round pick.
To the misfortune of the bad-luck Chiefs, this year’s draft should be as good as last year’s was bad. By going 11-5 and making the playoffs, the Chiefs slide down to No. 23, where they’ll still get a good football player. But how they wish it was this year they had the top pick.
Can you imagine the Chiefs plugging in Jadeveon Clowney at defensive end, who would have been their pick at No. 1 had they had it this time? How about massive offensive tackle Greg Robinson, who resembles a runaway freight train and will swallow up defenders, turning them into nothing more than ink spots? What about pairing Sammy Watkins with Bowe at wide receiver? Watkins could be the best receiver to enter the NFL since Megatron Johnson at Detroit.
Finally, how would Chiefs fans warm up to Johnny Football at quarterback? While I honestly don’t believe he’s going to be a great pro (he’ll be a bust, in fact), he’s got that “it” factor, a guy who would send a jolt of electricity through the town the likes haven’t seen since the Chiefs of Lenny the Cool.
Let’s face it, the Chiefs’ 11-5 season was pulled off with some smoke and mirrors. Their marshmallow schedule led to a 9-0 start and they were just 2-5 the rest of the way, 2-6 if you throw in the playoff giveaway against Indianapolis.
Given the hits they have taken in the offseason, the depth of the team is now threadbare. They lost some valuable performers from last year, but because of some ludicrous overpaying of players (Bowe, Brandon Flowers, Sean Smith to name three), KC is hamstrung by the salary cap in what it can do to fill in the gaps.
This draft is so deep that Kansas City should get an instant starter. While needs are abundant, wide receiver is the proverbial sore thumb. Whispers have become shouts that KC will take USC flyer Marquis Lee if he’s there, though the Chiefs haven’t had great luck in the past taking wide receivers high. Whatever happened to Jon Baldwin, anyway?
Kansas City doesn’t have a second-round pick, gone in the Alex Smith trade. Smith performed better than a second-rounder last year, but do you think he really wants to work out a long-term deal with a team whose offensive line was ravaged by free agency and now will be populated heavily by last year’s untested backups?
The Chiefs are still paying the price for some of former GM’s Scott Pioli’s miscalculations both in personnel and how he worked contracts. I have a knot in my stomach that despite the improved coaching of Andy Reid and the seemingly intelligent John Dorsey now the GM, this is a franchise teetering toward a return to the dark days.