Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Welcome to the Midwest Mr. Smith

The Kansas City Chiefs have traded for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith. Smith was the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft coming out of Utah. San Fran picked him over Cal’s Aaron Rodgers who fell all the way to pick 24 where the Packers took him. O0ps.

Smith didn’t have a pleasant ride in San Francisco for the majority of his time there. The team was mismanaged when he arrived and Smith was often hurt (he missed the entire 2008 season). Generally regarded as a bust, most Niner fans did not want the team to resign him in 2011 and questioned new coach Jim Harbaugh when he did. But Smith had a renaissance in 2011, winning a classic shootout vs. Drew Brees and the Saints in his first playoff start and but for a pair of moronic muffed punts by Kyle Williams would have beaten the Giants and been in the Super Bowl. Harbaugh flirted with Peyton Manning that offseason and would have let Smith walk for him. However Smith came back even stronger in 2012, only to lose his job to injury when Colin Kaepernick exploded onto the scene.

It is amazing that the Chiefs traded a 2nd and 3rd round pick for a guy that no one wanted two years ago. Even last year when he was free agent there was not much interest – mainly Miami, although that may have been in part because teams thought his first choice was San Fran. The truth is that Smith is not a top tier QB – while he didn’t lose that game to the Giants, he was hardly stellar: completing less that half his passes while the offense did not convert a single third down. While he has his moments, he can’t carry a team and isn’t likely to lead a huge comeback.

Still the Chiefs have landed a quarterback who has proven he can win in the NFL – something of which there is not an unlimited commodity. And even in his bad years he wasn’t a turnover machine. On an offense with Jamaal Charles, Dwayne Bowe (if KC resigns him), whomever the Chiefs take with the #1 overall pick, and new coach Andy Reid there is potential there.

*Smith follows a well-worn path from the Bay to the “Paris of the Plains.” He is the fifth QB to make that trip in the last twenty-five years – following Steve DeBerg (who went to other teams first), the immortal Joe Montana, Steve Bono, and Elvis Grbac (the last three were back to back to back starters for the Chiefs). The signs are good – all four made the playoffs at some point (3-6 combined record), three won the AFC West Division, and three made a Pro-Bowl in their time in Arrowhead.

*The Chiefs have had to pick up QBs from other teams for a while as they haven’t started one they drafted and developed themselves since the Bill Keeney era. The “Mr. Irrelevant” (the very last player taken) of the 1978 NFL draft, climbed his way to being a starter for seven years including a Pro-Bowl and a Wildcard postseason birth. To be fair Kansas City haven’t taken a QB in the first round since busting on Todd Blackledge – the forgotten 6th quarterback of the legendary Class of ’83. Todd can now be heard announcing college football (I think SEC games on CBS?).


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