Making the Case for the Chiefs to Make Luke Joeckel the NFL Draft's Top Pick
As the combine results roll in, NFL organizations continue to compile more data to help determine how their rankings will take shape in advance of April’s draft. And with the No. 1 overall pick, the Kansas City Chiefs will be the focal point over the next couple months.
Coming off a 2-14 season in 2012, it would appear that Kansas City has numerous holes to fill up and down its roster. However, this team is certainly not devoid of talent—having sent a total of six players to the Pro Bowl—and sits in a similar position with most other franchises looking to keep up with the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.
While having the top pick is synonymous with futility, it also affords the Chiefs the first crack at the best of what this year's crop of collegiate players has to offer. With draft boards and team needs ranging far and wide, Kansas City will have plenty of options.
The offseason activity leading up to the draft will help shape the direction the Chiefs go with their selections—especially near the top. Adding players via free agency and/or pre-draft trades will help Kansas City fill some holes and narrow down which draft prospect could come in and make the most immediate impact.
With news that the Chiefs are linked to 49ers backup quarterback Alex Smith (via Ian Rappaport of NFL.com), using the top pick on a signal-caller is becoming less likely. According to Rappaport, Kansas City is also eyeing Luke Joeckel, the left tackle from Texas A&M.
Though it is still early, both moves would make sense for the Chiefs at this point.
Quarterbacks Matt Cassel and Brady Quinn combined to complete fewer than 58 percent of their passes, for just 2,937 yards and eight touchdowns while committing 28 turnovers in 2012. It is imperative the Chiefs get more production from this area.
While Kansas City must start investing premium draft picks on young signal-callers, this year doesn't possess the top-end talent at the position as in years past. Clark Judge of CBSSports.com contends that the Chiefs can't afford to draft a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick.
If the Chiefs let Branden Albert walk in free agency, left tackle becomes the team's most apparent need. Bleacher Report's Matt Miller considers Joeckel the draft's top player, which fits the best-available-player mantra of Kansas City's new general manager, John Dorsey (via CBS Sports).
ESPN's Mel Kiper, Jr. has Joeckel going No. 1 overall in his latest mock draft.
Playing against some of the best that the college game has to offer, Joeckel allowed just three sacks over the last two seasons. And while his run-blocking will certainly be of focus in the NFL—especially with the Chiefs, who finished as one of the league's best rushing teams in 2012—he held his own in that regard in Kevin Sumlin's scheme.
Though there have only been three left tackles drafted with the top pick, the track records of Ron Yary, Orlando Pace and Jake Long have been impressive.
At 6'6" and 306 pounds, Joeckel could stand to add a bit of weight to his frame. But his sound technique, high football IQ and overall quickness provide him with a strong base to kick off a long NFL career.
The Chiefs certainly have other needs to fill, but left tackle makes the most sense considering that interior offensive linemen, inside linebackers, defensive ends (3-4 scheme), free safeties, wide receivers and cornerbacks are rarely drafted with the top pick.
Though Albert's future in Kansas City is still up in the air, Joeckel would come at a fraction of the cost and would enter his rookie season rated higher than Albert did back in 2008.
The first overall pick must produce from day one. Joeckel would slide into a premium position for the Chiefs right away.
While drafting a left tackle may be considered a vanilla approach, Joeckel represents this draft's surest bet considering where the Chiefs currently stand.
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