Don't Kill the Mellinger

Columnist Sam Mellinger's thoughts on sports and other important stuff

Chiefs’ season opener as an example of the importance of evaluating quarterbacks

09/04/2013 10:43 AM

09/04/2013 3:52 PM

One of the side effects of following the Chiefs is this specific obsession with quarterbacks. The NFL is such a quarterback-centric thing that I imagine every fan base is obsessed with quarterbacks. Fans in Green Bay are obsessed with their awesome quarterback and fans in Oakland are obsessed with their crappy quarterbacks and fans in San Diego are obsessed with their quarterback who swings wildly from awesome to crappy, often in the same game.

Fans in Kansas City are obsessed with the annoying fact that the last quarterback drafted by the Chiefs to win a game with the Chiefs was Todd Blackledge.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking a lot about this as the Chiefs’ season opener in Jacksonville approaches. You can look at this game through a million different prisms, but one I keep thinking about is the difficulty in finding a good quarterback.

This is something I wrote about

in the football section

, but it shines clearer as the Chiefs and Jaguars play a season opener.

This is probably a make-or-break year for Blaine Gabbert, the former Mizzou star selected 10th overall by the Jaguars in 2011. And what happens in Kansas City will be what frames and defines

the career of Alex Smith

, the former No. 1 overall pick who was labeled a bust and booed at home and butchered in surgery and then came within a special teams turnover of the Super Bowl one year and (he’s convinced) a concussion of winning the Super Bowl the next year.

As I noted in the football section column, the importance of quarterbacks has grown exponentially in the last 10 or 15 years while the evaluations of quarterbacks has, well, not.

Like how do you explain Brandon Weeden ahead of Russell Wilson? Or Gabbert, Christian Ponder, AND Jake Locker ahead of Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick.

I wish I could remember where I first saw this mentioned to give proper credit, but look at the quarterbacks taken in the first two rounds of the drafts from

2010: Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Jimmy Clausen.

2009: Matt Stafford, Josh Freeman, Pat White.

2008: Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco, Brian Brohm, Chad Henne.

2007: JaMarcus Russell, Brady Quinn, Kevin Kolb, John Beck, Drew Stanton

2006: Vince Young, Matt Leinart, Jay Cutler, Kellen Clemens, Tarvaris Jackson.

So that’s 20 quarterbacks drafted in the top two rounds, and seven are starters (including Kevin Kolb, now on his third team and out for the year with an injury).

You can play this game with any team, of course, but the Chiefs drafted Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson ahead of Wilson in 2012; and Jon Baldwin ahead of Dalton and Kaepernick in 2011. The Jaguars have generally been as bad, or worse. Think about how different each franchise would be with better quarterback evaluations. There wouldn’t have been those banners flying over Arrowhead last year. Scott Pioli would still be the general manager.

Football is about to become a $10 billion industry, and there is an enormous competitive advantage to be had by whoever can beat this awful overall success rate of identifying quarterbacks.

The Chiefs and Jaguars, opponents this weekend, are just two teams that could’ve used it over the years.