It’s a tough year to have the No. 1 overall pick, especially for a quarterback-needy team like the Kansas City Chiefs. There’s no obvious selection, but there is one player they should stay away from.
The Chiefs should not select Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel with their first-round pick. With the No. 1 overall pick in a draft, the goal should be to drastically improve your team from the year prior. By selecting Joeckel, that means the Chiefs would not re-sign left tackle Branden Albert, so they’d be drafting the rookie tackle to save money, not to improve their team from what they had in 2012.
If the Chiefs took Joeckel, it would free up money with the intention of spending it through free agency or trade on unknown veterans, but the way to build a team is through the draft. The New York Jets have proven over the past four years that building off veteran players can be just as big of a risk as building on youth.
The Chiefs already have a franchise left tackle in Albert, and while Joeckel could eventually be an improvement over the 28-year-old veteran, it will be a horizontal move for years. That would make Kansas City rely on signing veterans from other rosters, rather than signing the one they know.
Andy Reid and the Chiefs should both know that signing veteran talent can be a risk. Nnamdi Asomugha was a bust in Philadelphia and Stanford Routt was a bust in Kansas City in the past two years. Just because a player can succeed on one team and in one system doesn’t mean the same will hold true in their next city. With the new rookie pay scale, veteran players also come at a much higher price tag than young players.
That train of thought may seem to run in direct opposition to the theory that the Chiefs should keep Albert and eschew Joeckel. But there does need to be a balance between winning now and winning later. Albert presents the balance between those two options. The Chiefs know he’s good, he’s shown no signs of wearing down, and Kansas City can drastically improve another position while still keeping one of their best players in place.
The Chiefs have enough needs — and talent on their roster — that by selecting first, they could change their fortunes from a bottom of the barrel team to a possible playoff team. The Chiefs were close to that level coming in to 2012, and poor coaching and terrible play at quarterback plagued them from the start.
If Kansas City does decide to select a quarterback No. 1, it should be Geno Smith, but teams like the Seahawks and 49ers have proven that you don’t necessarily have to take a quarterback in Round 1 to find elite production. Unfortunately, there may not be a greater first-round need for the Chiefs and a player worth taking.
Bjoern Werner and Jarvis Jones are possibilities for the first-overall pick, but Tamba Hali and Justin Houston already play outside linebacker in the Kansas City 3-4, and they may be the best players on that defense. The Chiefs could use help at five-technique defensive end and cornerback, but there aren’t any great fits there at No. 1. Star Lotulelei‘s best value will come in a 4-3, and if he played 3-4 defensive end, he would likely be a two-gap player not worthy of the honor of a No. 1 overall pick.
So that leaves the West Virginia quarterback for the Chiefs. He may not be Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, but he would be an improvement over anything Kansas City threw out at quarterback last season. And while Joeckel will be looked at as the most sure thing in the draft, if he’s not an improvement over what the Chiefs already had in 2012, it’s a waste of a pick.