When the Los Angeles Rams and Philadelphia Eagles orchestrated their massive trades over the past few weeks to secure the draft’s first two picks and potentially lock up their franchise quarterbacks — Cal’s Jared Goff and North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz, though not necessarily in that order — Chiefs general manager John Dorsey took notice.
“I think the last two weeks has kind of shown everybody who loves football and the National Football League,” Dorsey said at his annual predraft press conference Friday, “when there are two supposed franchise quarterbacks there, teams are going to race up there and give everything away to get that franchise quarterback.”
The Chiefs, of course, are set there. Shortly after Dorsey and coach Andy Reid arrived, they surrendered two second-round picks for Alex Smith, who is coming off his best year as a Chief.
Smith, however, turns 32 in May, and after veteran backup Chase Daniel left to join the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency, the two players currently behind him — youngsters Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray — are gifted but untested.
Leigh Steinberg, the agent for Memphis quarterback Paxton Lynch, has tweeted that the Chiefs met with Lynch at the combine. But with Goff and Wentz expected to come off the board 1-2, and several teams still unsettled at quarterback, it would be a surprise if Lynch were to last to the end of the first round.
However, at least a few draft analysts think the Chiefs could take a chance on a quarterback later on in the draft.
“You’ve got to think about quarterback at some point. Will Andy Reid look at a quarterback down the line?” ESPN’s Mel Kiper said. “You look at Kevin Hogan from Stanford, Nate Sudfeld from Indiana, Dak Prescott from Mississippi State, Brandon Allen from Arkansas. There’s going to be a lot of options on day three for quarterbacks with ability.”
ESPN’s Jon Gruden agreed, and like Kiper he also mentioned Prescott as a potential option after the first round.
“Andy Reid, he’s been able to coach all kinds of different quarterbacks.,” Gruden said. “He took Donovan McNabb out of Syracuse — I coached Donovan in the Senior Bowl. Donovan was a freeze-option quarterback that did most of his damage running. I could see Andy Reid coaching a lot of these guys, starting with Prescott in the second round, third round. Bring a guy in here that has similar traits, a dual threat.”
At 6 feet 2 and 226 pounds, Prescott — who ran a 4.78 40-yard dash — boasts an impressive combination of size and athleticism for the position. He also finished 23-10 as a starter and led Mississippi State to the No. 1 ranking at one point in his career.
Prescott has a nice arm and reportedly has excellent intangibles, but like most quarterbacks these days he comes from a simplified spread attack and will have to adjust to sometimes-complicated pro-style verbiage and concepts.
Dorsey said evaluating quarterbacks is a challenge these days because of the proliferation of spread concepts in college, but he noted that as someone who loves to scout it’s a fun challenge he embraces.
“There’s very few guys that run the pro-style stuff, and that’s what makes it exciting for the personnel guys to see if you can filter out the spread-option offense, and actually, what are the components of success that go from college to pros,” Dorsey said. “First, I think you have to ask yourself, what are the three or four traits at the quarterback position that equate to success? Everybody may have different traits of success. I may be different from you in terms of how I rank them.
“But once you assess those different traits, do they fall into your formula for success? Then you go: ‘You know what? I’ll take that guy.’ I know the NFL is split half and half on Goff and Wentz, which I find fascinating.”
Dorsey, of course, wasn’t giving any further hints about what he looks for in quarterbacks or whether he might even be in the market for one. The draft starts on Thursday, after all.
So when asked last Friday whether he likes the depth at the position, he simply grinned and played coy.
“Yeah,” Dorsey said. “I think it’s interesting.”
Inside the 2016 NFL Draft: quarterbacks
From April 10 until the draft begins on Thursday, The Star will take a daily look at each position.
Chiefs’ needs: The Chiefs have Alex Smith in the fold, and he’s coming off a career year. But the two youngsters they’ve got behind him — Tyler Bray and Aaron Murray — are inexperienced and have yet to prove themselves. Perhaps the Chiefs would be willing to add another quality arm into the quarterback room, just to hedge their bets.
Sleeper: Keep an eye on Cody Kessler from USC. He isn’t very big (6 feet 1, 220 pounds), but he is experienced making pro-style reads, and he is smart and experienced.
Anthony Abenoja, Pittsburg State, 6-3, 215: The Blue Valley grad completed 60 percent of his passes for 3,871 yards and 32 touchdowns with 10 interceptions in 2014, before a knee injury ended his season. He is healthy now and pursuing the NFL.