As quarterback quandaries play out around the NFL, the Kansas City Chiefs hope that one leads to enough desperation for a team to trade up for their No. 1 overall pick.
Could one such bidder be the Oakland Raiders, owners of the No. 3 pick, where quarterback Carson Palmer appears willing to force himself out of the franchise?
"I certainly hope so," one Chiefs source said Thursday when asked about Palmer and whether his uncertain future could force the Raiders to deal.
The problem for the Chiefs, who are under the stewardship of new coach Andy Reid and first-year general manager John Dorsey, is that they likely require the perceived need for a quarterback to cause enough panic that some team will feel obliged to trade up for West Virginia's Geno Smith. Smith is considered the top quarterback in a draft that pales in comparison to the crop from a year ago.
That said, the overwhelming trend in the NFL right now is for a quarterback to go No. 1 overall. That has happened in the past four years, in five of the past six and in 10 of the past 12 dating to Michael Vick in 2001.
Moreover, one of the times that a quarterback didn't go No. 1 in that span it was a clear mistake. In 2008, the Miami Dolphins took Jake Long over Matt Ryan, who went No. 3 to the Atlanta Falcons. Long left the Dolphins as a free agent this offseason.
Thus, as the draft nears, the value of a quarterback like Smith or even Matt Barkley of USC could soar.
There's intrigue right behind Kansas City at No. 2 with the Jacksonville Jaguars and new general manager David Caldwell. Caldwell was with Atlanta when the Falcons took Ryan after Jake Long went No. 1 and the St. Louis Rams took Chris Long at No. 2.
Jacksonville attended Smith's pro day workout and a team source indicated the club is intrigued by Smith even though the Jaguars selected Blaine Gabbert with their first-round pick in 2011. Whether that's a careful rouse to also get some team to trade up with the Jaguars remains to be seen.
However, it's clear that several teams picking in the top 10 need a quarterback. Aside from Jacksonville and Oakland, the Cleveland Browns at No. 6, Arizona Cardinals at No. 7, Buffalo Bills at No. 8 and the New York Jets at No. 9 could be interested in a quarterback. Published reports have linked Arizona to Palmer if the Raiders release him and the Jets are expected to wait until 2014 to draft a quarterback.
For now, it's clear that the Chiefs would like to move down to take one of the many offensive or defensive linemen who are considered worthy of the top five or six picks.
In a perfect world, the Chiefs would first trade left tackle and franchise designee Branden Albert and then trade down to No. 3. After the Raiders take Smith, the Chiefs could get one of the two top left tackles in the draft (Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M or Eric Fisher of Central Michigan) to replace Albert and use the picks they gain in those trades to improve in other areas.
That said, such a scenario is dependent upon a number of factors, starting with the Raiders. Oakland, which has been linked to Seattle Seahawks backup quarterback Matt Flynn in other trade rumors, would have to be willing to trade up.
Earlier this month at the NFL league meetings in Arizona, Oakland general manager Reggie McKenzie expressed concern about the quarterback spot.
"We have to settle the quarterback position," McKenzie said.
McKenzie, a former Packers executive, knows Flynn well from his days as a backup in Green Bay. However, the scouting report among former Packers executives (Dorsey also came from Green Bay) is that Flynn's lack of arm strength will eventually be exposed by opposing teams.
That could lead McKenzie back to Smith. While conventional wisdom for weeks has been that Smith is not a sure-fire No. 1 pick in this draft like Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Michael Vick have been in the past, it may be enough that Smith is the best of a reasonable group of quarterbacks.
Bottom line is, Kansas City is hoping some team falls hard enough for Smith to make a move.
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