The first thing every analyst outside of Kansas City was saying was that the Chiefs needed was a franchise quarterback (excluding Chris Mortenson). If you had been watching the Chiefs' games this past season (and God bless you if you suffered through the worst season in franchise history), you might feel that Thigpen had already been designated as Quarterback of the Future.
Thigpen's numbers were comparable to any young quarterback in the NFL, but the one stat that might have determined his fate in KC was his 1-10 record as a starter. As a Thigpen fan, I chalk this up to be a consequence of the lack of talent around him and a defensive backs coach that plays a head coach on TV.
However, what's done is done, and Cassel, for now, is being designated Franchise Quarterback or the favorite in the quarterback competition.
Cassel is an interesting figure. He stepped into key situations from day one and delivered eleven wins on an aging team that proved to be injury prone. To be realistic, if Thigpen took over a Pinto as Chiefs' quarterback, Cassel took over a Cadillac.
With a 16-0 team with strong veteran leadership and a base of diverse talent, Casselstepped into a situation few quarterback could dream of, but rather then being selfish or spoiled, he embraced the role of leader and played well down the stretch.
It will be exciting to watch a quarterback in Kansas City not named Brodie Croyle, so no complaints here; just simple observation.
Excluding quarterback, there is a laundry list of needs for the 2009 Chiefs. In the defensive backfield, we may have found talent in young corners Brandon Flowers, Brandon Carr, and Maurice Leggett (I nicknamed him Maurice Legit during the Denver and Oakland games).
However, we are still in need of a pass rush (see Jared Allen, former Chief and 2007-2008 pro bowler, thanks Carl Peterson). Tamba Hali and Turk McBride are starters in college, supporting role in the pros.
We also need one or two solid linebackers to help Derrick Johnson and newly acquired Mike Vrabel, and another free safety wouldn't hurt. On the offensive side of the ball, we are adequate, but still hurting. A right tackle, a right guard, and probably a new center (no offense Rudy Niswanger, but your name just makes me giggle).
A speedy wide receiver wouldn't hurt (see Jeremy Maclin) and a run-blocking fullback (Tony Richardson, run blocker for Priest Holmes when he had 27 rushing TDs in a season, Adrian Peterson when he broke the single game rushing record and Thomas Jones who had a career year last year, thanks again Carl Peterson).
Other than that, I think we'll be okay. Maybe a kicker, too.
"With the third pick in the NFL draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select..."
-Aaron Curry, linebacker, Wake Forest. Curry is the definition of young athlete. He's physically gifted and would fill a huge hole in the Kansas City Chiefs linebacking unit. He's a playmaker that sheds blocks and displays good technique in tackling.
He was a monster at this years NFL scouting combine (if you're in to that sort of thing), out-performing most at the 40 yard dash, bench press, vertical jump, 60-yard shuttle, and broad jump. Let’s hope his favorite color is red.
-Eugene Monroe, offensive tackle, Virginia. Monroe has a monstrous frame at 6'5" and 309 lbs. He could fix protection problems that are in desperate need of attention.
He could play either right or left tackle, while his former teammate at Virginia (Branden Albert, 15th overall selection last year) could move to either guard position to accommodate Monroe.
He could be key in both pass protection and a rushing attack, showing the ability to get down field and hit somebody. This kid would definitely look good in the Red and Gold.
-Jeremy Maclin, wide receiver, Missouri. This may be a long shot, but Maclin would add good speed to a receiver core in desperate need. Maclin’s dangerous speed would compliment possession receivers Tony Gonzalez and Dwayne Bowe.
Maclin displays good hands, spectacular speed, elusiveness with the ball and did I mention, phenomenal speed?! Not to mention he's been driving I-70 from St. Louis to Columbia for two years, it's not a stretch to say he stays on I-70 for a couple hours and stops off in Kansas City.
Also in consideration....
-Brian Orakpo, defensive end, Texas. Orakpo translates perfectly into the 3-4 with an ability to play linebacker.
-Rey Maualuga, linebacker, Southern California. I'm going to be honest, I had to look up how to spell this kid's name. That aside, he's an instinctive and powerful athlete when he's healthy.
Guys late to keep an eye on....
-Chase Daniel, quarterback, Missouri. He met with the Chiefs at the combine and is a Thigpen prototype. He's off the radar because of a poor senior year and could be a good late-round pick. Bare in mind, this wouldn't be the first quarterback drafted in or after the fifth round by Pioli (see Matt Cassel and Tom Brady).
In conclusion, the darkest and coldest of night is just before day break, let's hope that the sun is just about to break the horizon, because it's dark and I'm scared and cold.