For the third time this offseason, a quarterback-needy team drafting in the top 10 is on the verge of trading for at least a semi-prominent passer.
Thus, in the aftermath of Alex Smith going to the Kansas City Chiefs, Matt Flynn going to the Oakland Raiders and Carson Palmer likely getting traded to the Arizona Cardinals, according to Yahoo! Sports' Michael Silver, there is a legitimate question about what those moves mean for prospect Geno Smith.
"My read is that it's not good," said a personnel man with one of teams drafting in the top 10. "It's like with us, we like him, but we only like him so much."
So even though Smith spent Monday visiting with Kansas City, which has the No. 1 overall pick, it appears that there's a good chance he could slide past the top 10 even though the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 2, Cleveland Browns (No. 6), Buffalo Bills (No. 8) and New York Jets (No. 9) all appear to need quarterbacks. If Smith falls out of the top 10, he could slide for a long way.
Although three sources said they wouldn't put it past any team that has traded for a quarterback to also take Smith, they all admitted that trading and then drafting for a quarterback might be problematic.
"If you're the Chiefs and you just traded for Alex Smith after what he went through in San Francisco, what are you potentially doing to him now," an AFC team executive said, referring to Smith losing his job to Colin Kaepernick. "You're putting him right in the same situation all over again. He's not even getting a real chance if you take [Geno] Smith No. 1. Plus, you didn't give up all those picks for Alex just to then draft his replacement. That would be pretty odd."
Kansas City gave up a second-round pick this year and a conditional third-round pick in 2014 for Smith. That leaves the Chiefs currently with only one pick in the first two rounds this year, meaning that spending it on a player who might not play this season would hurt the rest of the roster.
The issue is a little less troublesome for Oakland, which has the No. 3 overall pick, and Arizona at No. 7. Still, the issue could be problematic. Certainly Flynn had to be given some assurances that he would get a fair shot at the starting job with the Raiders, particularly after getting beat out by rookie Russell Wilson last season in Seattle.
Likewise, Palmer might be the most talented of the three and first-year Arizona coach Bruce Arians may want to see if he can resuscitate Palmer's flagging career without the specter of another quarterback waiting in the wings.
That leaves the aforementioned quartet of teams looking for a starter. Cleveland and Buffalo took steps toward building the depth at the position by signing veterans Jason Campbell and Kevin Kolb, respectively, in the past two weeks. However, neither of them is viewed as a long-term answer. Neither is Cleveland incumbent Brandon Weeden.
As for Jacksonville and the Jets, both teams are in nearly the exact same situation. Each has a new general manager (David Caldwell in Jacksonville and John Idzik with the Jets) to oversee a struggling former first-round pick at quarterback (Blaine Gabbert in Jacksonville and Mark Sanchez with the Jets). The main difference is that Jacksonville has first-year head coach Gus Bradley while the Jets have incumbent Rex Ryan.
The common logic is that Jacksonville might be inclined to start over at quarterback with a guy that both Caldwell and Bradley like rather than spend a year with Gabbert, who they don't know. By contrast, Idzik and the Jets may be waiting to get through this season, perhaps make a change at head coach and then bring in a quarterback to go with a new coach.
"Those scenarios make a lot of sense," said the AFC executive. "But it really comes back to a more basic question: How good is [Geno] Smith? If you think he's a franchise guy, you might want to take him. If not, let him go."
Starting with Tennessee at No. 10 with Jake Locker and going through to No. 32 with Joe Flacco in Baltimore, the remaining teams in the first round currently have established and/or high-round picks starting at quarterback. Envisioning any of those teams taking Smith or even Matt Barkley of USC is a stretch.
That said, the NFL is not always an exact science in this regard. In 2005, Alex Smith went No. 1 overall and Aaron Rodgers slipped to No. 24. All these years later, it's Smith who again is hoping to see another quarterback slide past him.
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