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Alex Smith Will Prove Worthy of High Price Tag for Kansas City Chiefs

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers smiles before a game against the Seattle Seahawks on October 18, 2012 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Tim DanielsFeatured ColumnistMarch 7, 2013

The Kansas City Chiefs desperately needed a change at quarterback before next season. While they were forced to pay a hefty price to fill the void with Alex Smith from the San Francisco 49ers, the risky decision will end up being the right one.

The Chiefs gave up their second-round pick in this year's draft and a conditional mid-round pick in 2014 to acquire Smith from San Francisco, according to ESPN. Of course, the 49ers hope to have found their own franchise quarterback in Colin Kaepernick, making Smith expendable.

While it's a steep price to pay, especially considering Kansas City's prime draft position atop Round 2, when you consider the alternatives it becomes a lot more understandable.

The free-agent market is completely devoid of talent at quarterback. The draft class lacks a top-tier prospect like Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, capable of turning around an entire franchise seemingly in the blink of an eye.

Knowing that, the Chiefs' only other option was to endure another season with a lackluster quarterback group led by Matt Cassel. It would have been an extremely uninspiring start to the Andy Reid era in Kansas City, to say the least.

Instead, the Chiefs decided to take a chance on Smith. Not only does he represent a major upgrade over the turnover-prone Cassel, but he also doesn't get nearly enough credit for his development with the 49ers over the past couple seasons.

In 26 games, the 2005 first overall pick accounted for 32 touchdowns and just 13 turnovers. For the sake of comparison, Cassel had 17 touchdowns and 30 turnovers in 18 games over the same two-year span.

Furthermore, Smith was off to a terrific start last season before getting hurt and losing his starting spot to Kaepernick. He was completing 70 percent of his passes and sported a quarterback rating of 104 through 10 games.

That rating would have placed him second behind Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning if he played the entire season, and ahead of superstars like Tom Brady and Drew Brees.

Now, Smith isn't in the same class as those four titans of the quarterback position in terms of running an offense. He's not somebody who's going to throw for 4,000 yards on an annual basis and won't be breaking the passing touchdown mark in Kansas City.

What it does show is that he understands now, after some growing pains early in his career, how to lead an efficient offense. He's going to limit his mistakes and allow the playmakers around him to do all the heavy lifting.

The Chiefs do have talent around him. Jamaal Charles is one of the league's most explosive running backs and Dwayne Bowe, who just agreed to a new five-year extension, can be a top wideout with a more consistent quarterback like Smith under center.

Jon Baldwin and Dexter McCluster will also benefit from a more reliable quarterback. All of the Chiefs' playmakers, who were being held down by lackluster QB play, should be much bigger factors next season.

The Kansas City offense isn't suddenly going to become a high-powered attack similar to the New England Patriots or New Orleans Saints, but it should be a lot more effective. And that will give them a chance to make a huge turnaround in Reid's first season.

That wouldn't have been possible if the Chiefs didn't add Smith. He's worth the risk and should prove worthy of the high price the team paid to get him.

 

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