KANSAS CITY, Mo. — the success of the Chiefs’ draft will ultimately be judged sometime down the road. In the meantime, general manager Scott Pioli has a few things he will use to measure it by.
One of them this year and every year is that the Chiefs use one of their picks on a quarterback.
“every year if possible we’d like to find a way to draft a quarterback because it’s just good business and it’s smart business,” Pioli said Monday. “Now, who that is and when we do it and how we do it, you never know.”
The first of the Chiefs’ eight picks this year will come 11th in the first round. there, the player generally regarded as the third-best quarterback in the draft, Ryan Tannehill of Texas A&M, could be available to them.
The Chiefs have spent significant time investigating Tannehill, who spent the first half of his collegiate career as a wide receiver and started just 19 games at quarterback. they met with him at the NFL scouting combine, worked him out at Texas A&M and had him in to Kansas City for a visit.
None of which, of course, means the Chiefs will draft Tannehill if he slides to them at that 11th pick.
“I’m not going to get into all the specifics of a player,” Pioli said when asked about Tannehill. “but I know this: I know he’s a competitive, young player, a smart player, a tough player. He’s a guy I have a lot of respect for.”
Whether it’s Tannehill or a lesser prospect taken later in the draft, Pioli would like the Chiefs to find another quarterback to go with the three they already have: starter Matt Cassel, Brady Quinn and Ricky Stanzi.
The Chiefs have sent mixed signals on Cassel during the offseason. Both Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel were less than enthusiastic in their support of Cassel on Monday.
Pioli: “we like Matt Cassel, and we think Matt Cassel is a good quarterback.”
Crennel: “Matt has proven he can get a team to the playoffs. Now it’s up to us to get him to do it again.”
If the Chiefs are eventually in a spot where they have to make a decision on Tannehill, the key factor could be what they think about Cassel’s long-term prospects. it may be years before they again will be in position to draft a so-called franchise quarterback.
“I think the numbers say that 50 percent of first-round quarterbacks don’t make it,” Crennel said. “Now, if you said you’ve got a 50-percent chance of the guy you pick making it, you wouldn’t feel all that good about it. but the quarterback is a position that you have to have.”
During his time as personnel director for the Patriots and general manager with the Chiefs, Pioli has largely been associated with two starting quarterbacks — Tom Brady with New England and Cassel in Kansas City.
It’s worth noting that both players entered the NFL as low-round draft picks. Brady was chosen in the sixth round in 2000 by the Patriots and Cassel in the seventh round in 2005, also by New England.
The Chiefs have selected one quarterback in three drafts with Pioli as their general manager, taking Stanzi in the fifth round last year.
So, using history as a guide, the Chiefs will find their 2012 rookie quarterback in a later round.
“Quarterback is a really difficult position to play in this league,” Pioli said. “This league’s history shows there are a number of quarterbacks that have played in this league … that given time to physically develop, emotionally develop, they become good players in this league. the other thing is if you get a good player at that position and you develop him and you are (otherwise) set at that position, you can (trade) that player and they have a lot of value around the league as long as you pick the right one. I’ve been a part of teams where we’ve picked the wrong ones and we’ve picked the right ones.”
The Chiefs, and other NFL teams, are still waiting to hear from the league how many players they will be allowed to bring to training camp. the number will be somewhere between 80, where it’s been the last few years, and 90.
“That’s going to have a lot to do with how many people we take (to camp) at any position, quarterback being one of them,” Pioli said. “Ideally, and we talked about it, we’d love to have four quarterbacks going into training camp. but you don’t want too many quarterbacks because if you’re going to develop players or even have them compete against one another, there are only so many balls that can be thrown in practice.”