The Kansas City Chiefs swapped first round picks with the Buffalo Bills, plus also sent Buffalo their third round pick and their 2018 first round pick for a guy who many people had as the fourth best quarterback in the draft.
It was bold, aggressive move and a massive risk.
To me, it doesn’t make sense.
First of all, the Chiefs gave up too much. There’s no way around it. A first round pick next year is a huge chip.
Playing in one of the toughest divisions in football, that pick could end up being higher than they were anticipating. The Broncos, Raiders, and Chargers all improved in this draft, and it could be a tough year for KC.
If the Chiefs do repeat as AFC West champions and go on a playoff run, they won’t be picking next year till near the tail end of round two, possible up to 60 picks deep.
What they ended up with was the ultimate gunslinger. Comparisons to Brett Favre were instantly made given his ability to throw the deep ball and wrack up yards but Mahomes has serious decision-making and accuracy issues, and his tendency to launch the ball instead of going to check downs won’t fly in Andy Reid’s conservative offense.
He is a massive project, and somebody who is highly unlikely to play in year one. This is a very long-term investment from the Chiefs, and trading up for developmental pieces is always a gamble.
Where I will give the Chiefs a little bit of credit is their track record of drafting. In 2015, GM John Dorsey found Pro Bowler D.J. Alexander in the fifth round after taking stud Marcus Peters in the first. Tyreek Hill in the fifth round of the 2016 draft also turned out to be a game changer for the Chiefs last season. The front office deserves the benefit of the doubt for now given the talent they have brought to Arrowhead Stadium recently.
Mahomes is also in a good position to develop. It is going to be a long haul, but having a veteran like Alex Smith to learn behind will be good for his career. Smith can help him with the pressures of being a highly drafted quarterback as well. Andy Reid and his coaching staff have always been good with quarterbacks. Mahomes could be the next product from the system.
But for me, there is one question that always needs to be asked when a team trades up to take a quarterback. Did they have to make this trade? Teams who are desperate for quarterbacks are usually the ones moving up, exhibit A would be the Chicago Bears this year. By no means did Kansas City have to move up.
They were a two points away from making the AFC Championship Game last season, and have gone 23-9 in the last two regular seasons combined. This is an extremely talented team with an at least competent quarterback guiding them. They could have been perfectly fine riding it out with Smith for one more season.
This is where the optics of trading up don’t make sense. The 2018 draft class is quarterback rich. Between Josh Allen, Sam Darnold, and Josh Rosen, it is very likely the top three picks will all be quarterbacks. Beyond the big three the likes of Lamar Jackson, Mason Rudolph, and Luke Falk lurk for later. There is a very good chance Kansas City could have gotten a more NFL-ready quarterback than Mahomes next season by trading up, or maybe even just by staying put with their pick.
I think the move could work out, but I’m not holding my breath. I get the sense the front office panicked a little bit with a potential opt-out in Alex Smith’s contract after next season, and didn’t look ahead at the better quarterbacks that lay ahead in 2018.