For the first time in a while, the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft is not set in stone prior to draft day. The Kansas City Chiefs are on the clock, and few people have any concrete idea about which player the front office will choose.
Some will argue that it should be a defensive lineman or a cornerback. Others would tell you that the right pick is Eric Fisher from Central Michigan.
The correct choice, though, is Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel.
Before the Alex Smith trade, many speculated that Kansas City would select a franchise quarterback, such as Geno Smith, to kick off the 2013 NFL Draft. But when the team traded for San Francisco 49ers’ backup signal-caller Alex Smith, ideas of Geno Smith or Matt Barkley going first overall were thrown out the window.
Last season, the Chiefs had the 27th best offensive line in the league when it came to pass protection, and they will need to keep good care of their new leader.
New GM John Dorsey took the first step towards that goal by franchise-tagging offensive tackle Branden Albert. Of course, rumors have been swirling about a possible position change or even trade for Albert. Then right tackle Eric Winston was released.
These facts further illustrate the need for Joeckel in Kansas City.
If Albert is traded, then Joeckel could start on the blind side. Even if the Chiefs decide to keep Albert, the veteran was franchised, meaning he’ll be around for just one year. The Texas A&M product could play at right tackle next season and then switch over to his comfortable left side in 2014 and for the rest of his illustrious career.
It seems that this is exactly what the Chiefs front office is thinking as ESPN’s NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported.
And after today's Pro Day at Texas A&M, scouts believe it's hard to imagine the Chiefs bypassing OT Luke Joeckel with No. 1 overall pick.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2013
This is, obviously, the right move as Kansas City would be unwise to pass up on a talent such as Joeckel.
He is the safest pick in the draft and, no matter what happens with Albert, he is also the smartest selection.
His strengths heavily outweigh his weakness. Joeckel used advanced technique, quick feet, his strong hands, athleticism, toughness and skill to mirror speed-rushers in order to become an elite pass-protector and an absolutely shutdown college defensive lineman.
Last season, he propelled his quarterback Johnny Manziel to an incredible Heisman-winning year. It is easy to forget this, but two seasons ago he blocked for Ryan Tannehill, a player starting for the first time. Tannehill morphed into a Top 10 draft pick behind a line led by Joeckel.
The Aggie had some great games against SEC powerhouses such as LSU's Sam Montgomery. He shone in a November battle with BCS champions Alabama, not allowing a single sack.
It was the only loss for the Crimson Tide.
Joeckel is ready to start immediately and will have a giant impact for Kansas City. This is because he is very well rounded, clearing out the hole for runs and shutting down opposing pass rushes.
He is incredibly quick and agile. This facet of his game allows him to match up well with the speed-rushers who are growing increasingly popular in the league.
The stunning prospect could use more strength, but that is a weakness that could easily be fixed by a NFL weight room.
He is excellent at holding a block. This skill will allow Alex Smith to make his reads in time and get the ball downfield. His expertise is as a pass-blocker, which will come in handy for the new quarterback.
However, Joeckel isn’t just limited to the trenches. His aforementioned quickness allows him to make an impact block in the second level.
He should add power and be a franchise left tackle for the Kansas City Chiefs, making multiple Pro Bowls and drawing comparison to the talented Jake Long.
This Luke Joeckel pick isn’t just a safe choice but also is the correct choice.
No matter what happens with Branden Albert, the Chiefs must draft Joeckel with the first choice in the draft.
He has the ability to shore up this offensive line and become a mainstay for the Chiefs.