Kansas City Chiefs: Full Position Breakdown and Depth Chart Analysis at QB
When it comes to quality quarterbacking in the NFL, too much is never enough.
Unless you're the Kansas City Chiefs, in which case, over the past two years, you've hoarded them like a doomsday-prepping lover of pigskin.
Above all else, Andy Reid is two things: (1) a calorie connoisseur, and (2) the inspiration for a Beatles song the coach who flips passing projects for assets like a quarterback-whispering Mr. Miyagi.
Normally, a team inches toward the preseason with a foursome of signal-calling field generals. And normally, the career trajectory for at least one those four will arc toward a one-way runway—"destination" didn't rhyme—in a subordinate league whose attendance stems from frugal (see: cheap) fathers.
That's not the case in Kansas City.
Last year, Alex Smith's season began and ended with firsts—one being his Chiefs debut and the other a Pro Bowl nod. Some ticket holders see him as an efficient offensive operator with an underrated skill set. Others view him as a stopgap solution and a bump in the road to success.
At the end of the day, the talking points shouted across fences are ultimately moot. If you're a Chiefs fan, he's ultimately your quarterback for the foreseeable future.
Andy Reid told NFL Network this morning that he’s optimistic an extension will get done with Smith before the season. Smith agreed.— Terez A. Paylor (@TerezPaylor) May 27, 2014
That much is clear.
Talked about Alex Smith negotiations on Total Access Tues: Sides still far apart with no progress. It’s why Chiefs debated drafting QB early— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 28, 2014
OK, fairly clear.
OK, it's a Seattle forecast.
As for Smith's cohorts?
When preseason rounds the corner, Chase Daniel, Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray will engage in a three-way battle royal for the backup positions.
Starter: Alex Smith
Sports fans (media included) bring a lot of redeeming traits to the table. One thing that is often exempt from that list? Humility.
Fans, writers and pundits are passionate about particular topics and teams.
However, some walk the plank as borderline zealots, going overboard with their "rah rah" vigor and tightrope-walk a blurred line between sports and religion.
They handcuff their self-worth to someone (a player) or something (a team, stance, etc.), which makes it all but impossible for them to swallow their pride, expose their mortality and admit mistakes.
(Yes, this reroutes to Alex Smith before approaching "Confucius says..." territory.)
The supersized fortune cookie you just read is relevant for one reason: Smith is due for an extension, and though his 2013 stats compare favorably to second-tier passers, most of his skeptics will reaffirm their doubts before caving in.
Let's compare No. 11's 2013 season to that of two others who reside in the second stratum of quarterbacking: Jay Cutler and Colin Kaepernick. Also, let's throw in Smith's predecessor, Matt Cassel, just to paint the picture with an added dimension.
|Deep Acc. (20+ Yards Through Air)||47.4||45.6||46.3||45.6|
|Comp. % (2.5 Secs or Fewer)||65.9||71.9||68.3||66.1|
|Comp. % (2.6 Secs or More)||49.4||55.5||51.6||49.7|
|Acc. % (Factors Drops, Throwaways, Spikes)||71.2||74||73.1||69.3|
|PYIA (Passing Yards in Air) %||56.6||65.4||47.1||60.1|
|PYIA with Drops||113||229||298||268|
Juxtaposing the stats, a few things (seemingly) become clear.
First, while Cassel is a stand-up guy off the field, he's mediocre on it. Pedestrian at best. Fifty shades of "eh."
If you don't agree that Smith is a light-and-day upgrade over him, steer clear of sharp edges.
Second, a season ago, Smith edged his successor in San Francisco, Kaepernick, in nearly every relevant passing category. Furthermore, he averaged the same amount of yards per carry as the dual-threat playmaker.
Third, as a pure passer, Cutler—who recently inked a buzz-worthy extension of his own—is a greater threat from the pocket. However, his gung-ho, Braveheart mentality often ends with him flinging footballs like double-edged swords.
His arm strength allows him to launch rocket-propelled passes on a whim. That, in turn, opens up the playbook for his offensive coordinator—who knows that Cutler can complete riskier routes (deep outs, ins, go-routes, etc.)—and expands the respective trees of Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery.
On the other hand, though Smith doesn't brandish the same kind of cannon that Cutler does, he's a better decision-maker/system quarterback. (Cue the "Captain Checkdown" comments in three...two...) Plus, his receiving corps pales in comparison.
In other words, Kansas City's pass-catchers regularly treated spirals like hot potatoes, especially on momentum-swinging deep balls.
No. 2: Chase Daniel
In the aforementioned group of quarterbacks, Chase Daniel is the wild card. And in all likelihood, he's a lock to survive roster cuts.
Having said that, his potential release isn't an afterthought.
Week 17's effort at San Diego showed why the Chiefs offered him a handsome contract.
However, the Chargers arguably toted the worst pass defense in the league last year, with only one secondary, St. Louis, sacrificing more yards per attempt (8.1). Plus, he didn't exactly ooze with poise on his last play, overstepping the line of scrimmage by a solid four yards and heaving a prayer to a double-covered A.J. Jenkins.
No. 3: Tyler Bray
Tyler Bray, resident sniper and unofficial president of bros across America, can become a potent starter in the NFL. He can also be relegated as practice-squad bait.
In terms of arm strength, nobody on Kansas City's roster is within a stone's throw of Bray. And even if they were, he would chuck said stone back at twice the velocity.
Throughout his collegiate career, the second-year gunslinger added subtle nuances (baiting safeties, pump fakes, etc.) to his arsenal. He understands the game, as evidenced by improvisations like reading corner leverage and rifling back-shoulder throws on plays that aren't designed for it.
However, as a true junior, he prematurely declared for the 2013 draft—although it should be said that the incoming system didn't accentuate Bray's strengths—and off-field flags demoted him to the outskirts of the undrafted.
But make no mistake: There's a reason why, despite his immaturity and inexperience, Bray was largely predicted to be a third- to fourth-round pick last season; he's a prototypically built pocket passer who rains fireballs down upon defenses.
NFL.com's Marc Sessler notes:
At 6-foot-6 and 230 pounds, Bray generated intrigue after he threw the ball faster (59 mph) than any other quarterback at the NFL Scouting Combine. But questions arose about his maturity and smarts on the whiteboard.
Landing with coach Andy Reid and the Chiefs drops Bray into a no-pressure situation. He'll learn and grow behind Alex Smith and Chase Daniel, giving the Chiefs one of the NFL's more interesting trios at quarterback.
Bray's tangibles come packaged with bibs for scouts. If he pulls the reins on his Johnny Manziel-like (off-field) demeanor and digests the playbook, his skills will drum up a second-string quarterback quandary in the near future.
No. 4: Aaron Murray
Aaron Murray is the antithesis of Tyler Bray.
It's like contrasting smokin' Jay Cutler to Doug "Rudy! Rudy!" Flutie (he was a 5'10", 180-pound quarterback). It's like comparing Philip "I'm all jacked up on Mountain Dew!" (video NSFW) Rivers to, well, Alex Smith.
Murray says all of the right things and conducts himself like a professional. He's an engaging, sociable leader on the sidelines. He's a mobile, accurate passer between them.
Kansas City's rookie turned the SEC record book into his personal print ad and threw a touchdown on a torn ACL (see video), prompting Jon Gruden to tag him a "sick human being."
He snaps passes with a rapid release, and while they don't tout the Mach-like velocity of Bray's, Murray has an undersold arm and deep ball.
The cons? He stands at 6'0", so prep yourself for waves of Russell Wilson mentions to flood your timeline over the next handful of years. Obviously, that tends to pave the way for the occasional batted pass, which, per Chiefs Spin's Herbie Teope, first-rounder Dee Ford reaped the benefit of last week.
Pressure, at times, forces Murray into hasty decision-making.
He also shows symptoms of "That Guy" tendencies when sleepers entrust him with their well-being—glaring red flag.
Unless Chase Daniel books a one-way flight (save your breath), chances are that this preseason doubles as a third-string shootout between Bray and Murray. And if last year's showcase is indicative of what to expect, the former has already proved he's up to the challenge.
That being said, Murray, like Bray, clearly flashes (future) starting potential. But even if he gets the short end of the stick, something tells me that it'll only fuel his motivation to work that much harder.
Eric Ebron: "Your girlfriend... Wow." Aaron Murray: "Thank god I can throw a football." pic.twitter.com/XkSxMpfGAm— Dan Rubenstein (@DanRubenstein) May 31, 2014
Follow Brett on Twitter: Follow @BrettGering