Can the Chiefs find an answer at QB?

The 1-10 Kansas City Chiefs would have the No. 1 overall pick if the season ended today, and the Chiefs' struggles are nothing new.

Kansas City finished dead last in the AFC West in every season since 2007 except 2010, when it won the division but lost to Baltimore on the wild-card round. There is much work for the Chiefs to do, and a strong 2013 draft class would be a good start to righting the ship and becoming competitive.

Moving parts such as potential coaching changes and possible free-agency departures of wide receiver Dwayne Bowe and offensive tackle Branden Albert come into play when assessing the Chiefs' needs, but it's never too early for a look at what could happen with the top overall pick.

Here's how things could shake down:


There's no question quarterback is Kansas City's most pressing need. Matt Cassel has struggled for the most part, backup Brady Quinn hasn't played well enough to earn consideration for the starting job next season, and 2011 fifth-round pick Ricky Stanzi has yet to attempt a regular-season pass.

The question is when the Chiefs will address this need, because the 2013 quarterback class doesn't offer No. 1 overall value. West Virginia's Geno Smith (Grade: 94) is the top quarterback on our board, but he's not an elite prospect and would have been the fourth quarterback taken -- behind Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III and Ryan Tannehill -- in the 2012 draft.

If the Chiefs decide to go in another direction, taking Utah defensive tackle Star Lotulelei (Grade: 96) is a possibility. They have greater needs, but the run defense could use a boost and would get good value. Lotuleiei can line up anywhere along the defensive front, and his greatest strength is stopping the run. Two other options are Notre Dame inside linebacker Manti Te'o (Grade: 96) and Texas A&M OT Luke Joeckel (Grade: 96), assuming Albert doesn't return.

All three of the players above would be a better pick than Smith from a value standpoint, and value almost always should trump need. Quarterbacks are often an exception to that rule, though.

Smith isn't as polished as Luck and doesn't have as much upside as RG3, but he has the toughness, smarts and skill set to develop into a franchise quarterback. Besides, it's not as if teams have had a lot of success finding championship quarterbacks after the first round.

Quarterbacks taken in Round 1 have won six of the past seven Super Bowls, and the seventh member of that group, Drew Brees, was taken with the first pick of the second round.


Kansas City released Stanford Routt earlier this month and inserted 2010 second-round pick Javier Arenas opposite Brandon Flowers, but Arenas (5-foot-9, 197 pounds) doesn't have the size or top-end speed to hold up on the outside. He is best playing a nickel role and contributing on special teams.

Flowers is a solid starter but is the same size as Arenas, so it's important that the Chiefs improve their ability to match up with bigger receivers.

Mississippi State's Johnthan Banks (Grade: 89) and North Carolina State's David Amerson (Grade: 84) both have the length and strength to hold up working against bigger receivers. They also have the ball skills to develop into playmakers. Banks could be there at the top of the second and Amerson, who has struggled at times this year, could slip to the third.

Speaking of playmakers, some may want to see the team draft former LSU defensive back Tyrann Mathieu (Grade: 65) based on his penchant for generating turnovers and the Chiefs' inability to do so this season. It doesn't make sense, though. Mathieu (5-9, 167) is also undersized, has just average cover skills, and the team already has an effective return man in Arenas.

Inside linebacker

Derrick Johnson shows no signs of slowing down despite recently turning 30, but Kansas City needs to upgrade the starting slot opposite him. Johnson is at his best slipping blocks and making plays with his range, so adding an inside linebacker who can stack and shed blockers to complement him makes the most sense.

Value will play a role here, too, and assuming Te'o isn't their first-round pick, the value for this kind of player isn't there until at least late in Day 2 or early Day 3. Stanford's Shayne Skov (Grade: 71) and Alabama's Nico Johnson (Grade: 71) are both good fits, and one of them could slip into the fourth round.

Defensive line

If Kansas City doesn't take a defensive lineman early on, it should be in the market on Day 3, considering its depth issues and problems against the run. At 6-4, 322 pounds, Tennessee's Montori Hughes (Grade : 60) would give the Chiefs another big body up front, and Hughes can line up at defensive tackle in a four-man front or end in a three-man front.

Wide receiver

It may surprise some to see a receiver show up so late on this list, but the Kansas City receiving corps has a lot of potential, and consistency at quarterback could unlock it. Bowe is the unknown as he approaches free agency, and the Chiefs should target a receiver on the first two days of the draft if he goes.

If Bowe returns, expect Kansas City to wait until Day 3 to take a receiver, where Texas A&M's Ryan Swope (Grade: 49) is one of my favorite sleepers. Swope doesn't have great upside, but possesses the hands and toughness to push for early playing time as a sub-package receiver.