No Home For QBs In KC Draft … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs

Quarterback is our subject today, and will continue to be over the weekend as we delve deep into the situation at that position for the 2011 NFL Draft. Stories will continue all weekend, most of those available through our Premium Draft Coverage, details available here.

Over the life of the organization, there’s one constant in the franchise created by Lamar Hunt – they’ve never been able to draft a quarterback to save their football lives.

Never. Not as the Dallas Texans, or the Kansas City Chiefs. Not in seven drafts in the American Football League, and the 44 that came afterwards in the NFL.

The numbers are as ugly as any franchise in the game:

  • They have drafted 31 QBs.
  • There were 19 of those selections that never played a down for the Chiefs.
  • Only 7 started a game for the franchise.
  • Their record as the starting QB was 57-85-2.
  • That includes a 0-1 record in the playoffs. That’s 22 post-season games, with only one started by a QB drafted by the franchise. That’s less than 5 percent of the starts.

(Available to Premium Draft subscribers – here’s a complete list of the quarterbacks the franchise has drafted and what they accomplished in a Chiefs uniform.)

At every other position on the field, the draft has provided the Chiefs with Pro Football Hall of Famers, Pro Bowlers, long-time starters and members of the team’s Hall of Fame.

But not a quarterback; in fact, there isn’t a drafted passer in team history that even deserves consideration.

This becomes a point of discussion because it’s time for the Chiefs to jump back into the quarterback waters. It’s time to see if GM Scott Pioli and head coach Todd Haley can fight through the history and draft a quarterback who could become a passer to remember.

All signs point to a passer in the draft mix. Backup Brodie Croyle will soon be a free agent and given his performance in his only action last year, it seems time for him to move on. They haven’t drafted a QB since Croyle in ’06. That’s a four-year drought, the second longest stretch without a drafted passer in club history.

And, while the 2011 NFL Draft does not have that one quarterback everybody agrees is a franchise guy, there are enough options available that should be available in every level.

Whether it was Hank Stram, Paul Wiggin, Marv Levy, John Mackovic, GM Jim Schaaf, Marty Schottenheimer, GM Carl Peterson or Herm Edwards, all took a stab at drafting that franchise quarterback. All came up empty:

  • Stram Era (1960-74) – 16 drafted.
  • Wiggin Era (1975-77) – 2.
  • Levy Era (1978-82) – 3.
  • Mackovic Era (1983-86) – 1.
  • Gansz Era (1987-88) – 2.
  • Schottenheimer Era (1989-1998) – 5.
  • Cunningham Era (1999-2000) – 0.
  • Vermeil Era (2001-05) – 1.
  • Edwards Era (2006-08) – 1.

“It’s hard to believe that history, but it’s there,” said former Chiefs GM Carl Peterson. “I know we tried, but it never worked out. Part of that was the fact we didn’t give a lot of those young guys a chance to get on the field.”

That was certainly true with the second-round picks of Mike Elkins (1989) and Matt Blundin (1992). There’s no question the Chiefs evaluation of Elkins and Blundin was off the mark. But they also did not get a real chance to play, even though the Chiefs were hardly settled at the position in those four years between ’89 and ’92; five different veteran QBs started games. Schottenheimer was interested in one thing – winning games. Rookie quarterbacks tend to make that chore a bit harder because of inexperience and mistakes.

Other coaches/gm combinations tried as well, and failed. Despite resistance from upper management, Levy went ahead and made a deal to get back into the first round in 1979 to select Steve Fuller. In a draft where Joe Montana went on selection No.82 in the third round, Fuller was the 23rd player selected.

“I felt it was necessary for us to get a young, talented quarterback on to the roster, to develop him as the rest of the team was developing,” Levy said several years ago. “There were some stern looks at the time, comments like ‘you’d better be right’.”

Levy and his staff were not right on Fuller, who took the job from Mike Livingston and then lost the job to free agent Bill Kenney, who then had to fight off Blackledge and at the end of all that, Steve DeBerg was in the house – it’s just the type of chronology that kept the position unstable for decades.

Mackovic replaced Levy and tried right off the bat in his first year to draft the quarterback of the future. The ’83 NFL Draft was full of very good QB prospects and with the seventh choice of the round Mackovic went for Blackledge, who was coming off leading Penn State to a national championship. He passed on Jim Kelly, Tony Eason, Ken O’Brien and Dan Marino; all were drafted later in that first round.

“It was a choice that didn’t work out,” said Mackovic of Blackledge, in one of the great understatements in Chiefs history. “I’ve always felt we could have made progress in that next season (1987), but we didn’t get that chance.”

It seems like the entire Chiefs hierarchy, no matter who was sitting in the decision making seats, decided to stay away from using those early glamour choices on quarterbacks. After Blackledge cost them a first-round choice in ’83, they’ve drafted nine quarterbacks and used only three premier picks (rounds 1-2-3): a pair of second-round spots for Elkins and Blundin and a third-round pick for Croyle.

From the 1984 Draft through 2010, there were 62 first-round quarterbacks selected, whether in the regular draft or supplemental. Only three of the league’s 32 teams did not draft at least one of those 62 first rounders – the Chiefs, Miami and New Orleans.

There were three teams that drafted four quarterbacks each, accounting for 12 of those 62 QB draft picks – Cincinnati, Tampa Bay and Detroit. It appears that the Bengals have a chance to make it five, as Carson Palmer has decided it’s time for him to leave Cincinnati and there is no replacement on hand to step in for this former first-round choice.

It would be a shock to see Pioli/Haley go for a quarterback early in this year’s draft. Unless they engineer some dramatic trade, they will miss out on Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton, the two quarterbacks considered the cream of the ’11 draft crop. A host of other names could be possible in the second and third rounds, players like Christian Ponder, Colin Kaepernick, Andy Dalton and Ricky Stanzi. Later there will be passers available like Greg McElroy, Scott Tolzien and Pat Devlin.

The odds say at some point, the Chiefs are going to hit on a drafted QB. There’s a long sad history they’re trying to break.

5 Responses to “No Home For QBs In KC Draft … Weekend Cup O’Chiefs”

  • April 8, 2011  - RW says:

    Really, really amazing that a franchise has been swinging at QB balls in the dirt for the past 50 years but there it is. It also might help explain the Superbowl drought for the past 40 years?

    Here’s my criteria in selecting the next QB: How quickly does the guy read the defense, put the ball to the right receiver and get rid of it quickly? First and foremost above arm strength, size, strength and other measurables. How many of the guys in Bob’s list of failed QBs could do that?

    Given their track record, I’d sooner see the Chiefs work out a deal for a reliable Sage Rosenfels type backup than waste another pick looking for Mr. Goodbar.

  • April 8, 2011  - Adam S says:

    I think if we do draft a QB, it’ll be later(5 or later). I think that guy could be Scott Tolzien. He’s a smart guy, a leader and has enough physical measuarables to be an effective starter in the league. He’d be good to have to sit in the back of the bus with cassel driving our offense.

  • April 8, 2011  - Shawn says:

    You could say the team hit on Danny McManus. He will be going to the CFL Hall of Fame. Passed for over 50,000 yards. Was a real gunslinger in the CFL. Lots of deep touchdown passes but lots of interceptions as well. Good team leader wherever he went. Would have been interesting to see what he could do if he had a shot with some more grooming.

  • April 8, 2011  - Ray Ward says:

    We are in a pretty good situation; in that, we seem to have a starter, in Cassel, that shows the ability to lead our team for 3 or 4 years, barring injuries or his play declining. So at least, I don’t see it as a position where we are desperate (yet) to get a guy to step in immediately, and can draft a project QB in the later rounds. I may be alone in this opinion, but I think Palko has the skills to be a dependable backup, for a season or 2. I remember seeing him in a preseason game, about 3 years ago (I can’t remember who he was even playing for)but he caught my eye, in that game, and played very well. That isn’t much of a resume, but if given more reps in practice,as the 2nd stringer, I think he can play well enough to keep us in games. It doesn’t matter who our QB is, if we don’t add some good receivers, to compliment Bowe. That was displayed clearly, in tne last 2 games the team played. If Bowe is shut down, so is the passing game, for most part. I like him better than Croyle, but if he isn’t the man, we need a veteran backup (and there are some decent ones available), and hope he can play like Damon Huard did. Anyway, I trust Pioli to make the right decisions, as I consider him one of the top talent evaluators in the league. Carl Peterson he is not!

  • April 9, 2011  - txchief says:

    The ghost of Marino. It may be a hundred years before the Chiefs can draft a franchise QB. I’d love to see him make me eat my words, but Cassel is nothing more than a mediocre backup. I get nauseated watching him play for the team I love.

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