2013 NFL Draft Begins Thursday

April 21st, 2013 by Lee Eldridge

Kansas City ChiefsJust a couple quick thoughts as we head into the 2013 NFL Draft.

Twitter Is Awesome
For those of you not on Twitter yet, what are you waiting for? I’ve been following a number of NFL player analysts and draft analysts. Have really enjoyed their insights and banter. A great daily fix for an NFL junkie like me. (Shameless plug: follow me on Twitter @leeceldridge.)

What I Wish Would Have Happened
I won’t belabor the point, but I would have much preferred drafting Geno Smith than trading for Alex Smith. At this point, I can only hope I’m wrong. Alex is good enough to improve the Chiefs immediately. We may make it to the playoffs with him. Hell, we might even win a playoff game for the first time in 20 years. Wouldn’t that be nice? But I have no illusions that Alex is going to win a Super Bowl. I’d take the unknown with the higher ceiling (Geno) over the game manager (Alex). It’s also not my job on the line if I’m wrong.

Draft Scenarios for the Chiefs
As I see it, there are four scenarios for what the Chiefs could do at the top of the draft. And it depends on whether or not they can trade offensive tackle Branden Albert, trade their top pick, or both.

1. The Status Quo: If the Chiefs are unable to trade Branden Albert, and if they’re unable to trade down, they must make their pick of the number one overall draft choice. The Chiefs have been coy and continue to say that there are four players they’re interested in with this pick. I assume that’s gamesmanship. And smart. I just can’t imagine they haven’t already made this decision. It’s just not their preferred outcome.

2. Trading Albert: The Chiefs appear to be in negotiations with the Dolphins for a second round pick. It’s been reported that the Dolphins are talking with Albert’s agent about a long-term contract. The Chiefs clearly want this to happen. I think it’s likely to happen, but not certain to happen.

3. Trading the Pick: I would imagine that the Chiefs would like to trade down and acquire more picks. This will be difficult to do. The most likely scenario is if a team has fallen in love with Geno Smith and is concerned about losing him. It just doesn’t sound like a likely scenario. My guess is that there’s less than a 20% chance that the Chiefs can trade out of this pick.

4. Trade Albert AND Trade Down: At this point, I’d take this in a heartbeat. Don’t think it’s likely. But I’d do it.

Trading Albert
A lot has been made of whether or not the Chiefs should trade Branden Albert. Supporters of Albert like to point to the fact that he gives up few sacks as an indication that he’s an elite left tackle. I’ve also seen analysts break down the tape and point out significant flaws and holes in his game. The eye test tells me he’s a good, but not great, left tackle. And he missed several games last year with back problems, which makes me nervous. I don’t have a problem with trading Albert for a second round pick and drafting either Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher — currently sitting at #1 and #2 on Scouts Inc.’s Top 32. I think this would improve the left tackle position for years to come with a younger, better player with a higher ceiling. It will also save the Chiefs a significant amount of money by avoiding paying Albert almost $10 million this year.

Cap Space
The Chiefs have been accused for years of being cheap. Not this year. They’ve spent their money and are only about $3 million from the cap (according to NFL.com here). They will actually need to open up some cap space to sign their draft picks. The trading of Branden Albert is probably all they’ll need to do to open up the necessary cap room to sign their draft picks, and maybe even do some last minute bargain shopping among available free agents. Karlos Dansby anybody? Chiefs have a hole at inside linebacker, and Dansby is still on the market.

Prediction
My best guess is that the Chiefs will trade Albert to the Dolphins, but will be unable to trade out of their pick atop the draft. Will be interesting to see which of the two left tackles they like better. I’m guessing it will be Joeckel.

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