The 2013 NFL draft may not be here yet, but the Kansas City Chiefs appear to already be on the clock. Quarterback woes have plagued the team the entire 2012 season, and Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn have not shown signs of turning things around.
The 2013 NFL draft presents an opportunity to start fresh at the position in Kansas City. The problem with this is that the upcoming draft lacks a clear-cut franchise quarterback. Can the Chiefs find a game-changer in Matt Barkley, Geno Smith, Tyler Wilson or someone else?
Unlike past drafts which included the likes Sam Bradford, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck (or Robert Griffin III for that matter) the 2013 NFL draft lacks a front-runner to be the top quarterback taken. This is not to say that no talented prospects exists.
The fact that current Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel has turned the ball over 20 times in eight starts ensures the Chiefs will take a chance on one of them. Before the season that guy appeared to be Matt Barkley.....
Matt Barkley entered the 2013 season as the top draft prospect. The USC quarterback had returned to school to win a national title and was the Heisman Trophy favorite as well. Then a funny thing happened.... they played the games.
Barkley hasn't been bad by any means, but he has tossed 13 picks and flopped against some of the top competition. He also lacks elite arm strength and struggles making throws outside the numbers at times.
On the upside, he comes equipped for a West Coast offense and has excellent footwork and mechanics. Still, Barkley reminds me of another USC quarterback who put off being a top-five pick to come back to school (Matt Leinart).
He has the polish and the pedigree, but he seems lacking in terms of upside. You can't take a guy first overall to be a game manager. Luckily Barkley isn't the only option.
Challenging Barkley for top quarterback status in the 2013 NFL draft is Geno Smith. Smith became the talk of college football with a start hotter than Kate Upton. He's cooled down some since, but has still been good (31:3 touchdown to interception ratio).
Smith is nearly the polar opposite of Barkley. He has great NFL size and a rifle for an arm. On top of this, his deep accuracy puts many in awe, and he could anchor a team with a vertical passing scheme.
A solid athlete, Smith also can move around to give himself more time in the pocket. Smith isn't without his warts, though. Despite a completion percentage above 70 percent, he struggles with his intermediate accuracy at times.
Smith also has exhibited choppy footwork, and he doesn't exactly play in a NFL system. Still the talent is there, and while he's not as refined, Smith offers more upside than Barkley. I see him as a Josh Freeman-type prospect, perhaps with slightly less physical talent and more polish. Smith certainly warrants consideration for the top pick.
There is one dark-horse candidate that is worth exploring. Tyler Wilson considered going pro last year, but came back to Arkansas instead. Things got bad from there. His coach Bobby Petrino was fired after a scandal, and the program thrown into chaos.
Wilson also suffered a concussion early in the season. Still, Wilson has handled the adversity well and assumed a leadership position within the team. This willingness to step up when times are tough reflects well on him as a leader.
This is not to say the season has been all smiles and rainbows from a performance perspective. Smith isn't even completing 60 percent of his passes, and his team has been inconsistent at best.
The flashes are there, though. Wilson has shown good arm strength and accuracy. His decision-making was also impressive last year, but he hasn't taken the step forward that was hoped for.
In the end, Wilson deserves high praise. He may even have a Philip Rivers-type ceiling as an elite gunslinger. He needs to find the consistency he did at the end of last season, otherwise he isn't worth of the No. 1 pick. However, if he can do that over the last few games, he'll find himself right in the thick of things.
The 2013 NFL draft holds the key to the Kansas City Chiefs future. The answer at quarterback must be found somewhere in the next draft. Personally, Geno Smith or Tyler Wilson look to be the best options.
Without a clear front-runner, the team will have to scout hard and find the guy best for what they want to do. The Kansas City Chiefs are on the clock... Which direction will they go?