Alex Smith Trade: Why the San Diego Chargers Will Finish Behind the Chiefs

Rick DevereuxContributor IIMarch 3, 2013

Alex Smith taking his services to Kansas City instantly makes the Chiefs better.
Alex Smith taking his services to Kansas City instantly makes the Chiefs better.Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

All it took was one trade to dramatically shake up the AFC West.

The Kansas City Chiefs will give a second-round draft pick this year (No. 34 overall) and a conditional mid-round draft pick in 2014 to San Francisco. The 49ers will give Kansas City quarterback Alex Smith.

San Diego Chargers fans should take notice. This one transaction knocks the Chargers down a peg while propping Kansas City up two pegs.

Smith to K.C. is not as dramatic as Manning to Denver, but make no mistake about it: The Chiefs are better than San Diego right now.

This is not to say Smith is a better quarterback than Philip Rivers. There are not too many pundits who would make that claim. But the team, as a whole, is better because of one player.

Assuming all free agents return to their respective clubs, Kansas City is better on offense than San Diego. Defensively, it is close, but you can make the argument the Chiefs have a slight edge.

Which San Diego starters could start for the Chiefs?

Rivers over Smith, for sure.

The San Diego tight end corps of Antonio Gates and anybody else are better than the Chiefs' Steve Maneri and Tony Moeaki.

And despite (or, maybe, because of) his Madden cover appearance, Peyton Hillis is nowhere near the fullback that Le’Ron McClain is.

That’s about it on offense. The quarterback, tight end and fullback.

Jon Baldwin was a disappointment as a starting wide receiver for the Chiefs. He only had 20 receptions for 325 yards and one touchdown. Robert Meachem may not be San Diego’s starting wide receiver, but he is getting paid like one. Meachem totaled 14 receptions for 207 yards and two touchdowns. Those two TDs came in one game, though—the loss at New Orleans.

Dwayne Bowe and Dexter McCluster at receiver and slot surpass San Diego’s Malcom Floyd, Danario Alexander and Meachem/Micheal Spurlock.

Every player along Kansas City’s offensive line is better than the Chargers' version. No one with San Diego would start in Kansas City; maybe center Nick Hardwick, but that is only because Ryan Lilja has retired.

Smith has been ridiculed for a slow start to his career, but this is the same player who had the 49ers one play away from the Super Bowl during the 2011 season. While his success can be partially attributed to Jim Harbaugh as head coach, Alex Smith was still the one throwing the ball.

And now he will be throwing the ball against the San Diego secondary.