The Kansas City Chiefs are set to host quarterback prospect Geno Smith on Monday night and Tuesday, according to ESPN. If the Chiefs have decided whom to select No. 1 in the NFL draft later this month, they aren't tipping their hand.
Head coach Andy Reid told assembled media at the owner’s meetings that the Chiefs were evaluating eight to 10 prospects for the No. 1 pick, but general manager John Dorsey told Albert Breer of NFL.com the pool has been narrowed to just four contenders.
Now you have to wonder if Smith is one of those four players or if bringing him in is an elaborate smokescreen to get a team to trade up for him.
If it’s indeed a smokescreen, the Chiefs aren’t fooling anyone. The Chiefs traded a small fortune of draft picks for Alex Smith and signed one of the most coveted free-agent quarterbacks in Chase Daniel. The well-publicized interest in Smith suggests that the Chiefs aren’t legitimately interested and that they are trying to get a team to trade for him.
It seems slightly odd for the Chiefs to need to study the quarterback class deeper as of March 27. If the Chiefs haven’t studied Smith from every angle with the draft less than a month away while holding the No. 1 overall pick and having already traded for a starter, then you have a pretty solid case that the new regime is incompetent.
Rapoport’s clarification tweet to Warren Sapp received a lot less attention, but was perhaps just as revealing. The Chiefs scout's comparison only extended to the way Smith carries himself, his body language and his arm.
These types of media leaks are rarely by accident, which is why you have to be skeptical of every report—like every day was April Fool’s Day. It can be impossible to determine the motives of scouts and teams.
It seems extremely unlikely that Dorsey, who has final say in the draft room, would make Smith one of his four top players based on his previous comments about this year’s quarterback class.
“There is no quarterback where personnel guys can definitely say, ‘He’s a first-round pick,’” Dorsey told the Kansas City Star in February (via ProFootballTalk). “There were so many inconsistencies in the collective group. There was not one guy that stood up and said, ‘I’m the guy in the position this year.’ There really wasn’t one clear-cut guy.”
Dorsey also said he expected two quarterbacks to be drafted in the first round because of need and that the top prospects had too many technical and scheme flaws. Since getting the job, Dorsey has stated that he’d draft the best player available.
These statements suggest the Chiefs scouted the quarterback class in depth long before the report saying they needed to dig deeper on Smith. The Chiefs also no longer have a need at quarterback. So it just doesn’t make any sense to pick Smith.
Coupled with the seemingly isolated interest in Smith when there is no consensus top player at the position, this could be nothing more than an elaborate smokescreen designed to aid the Chiefs in their quest to trade down. The Chiefs have never closed the door on trading the first pick, which was reiterated to Breer by Dorsey today.
If the interest is legitimate and the Chiefs aren’t just wasting effort trying to trade down, Smith has to be one of the four final candidates to be drafted No. 1 overall, because his visit is after Dorsey told Breer that the field has been narrowed. Unless the Chiefs feel like they can get Smith in the second round, their interest is a farce.
It’s worth noting that McNabb started just six games for the Eagles during his rookie year. Doug Pederson—now the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator—started nine games that year. If the Chiefs were legitimately interested in a long-term solution at quarterback, they could draft Smith and sit him on the bench for a year.
Alex Smith has two years on his deal and can be cut without cap consequences, and Daniel makes good money for a backup, but his deal would void if he ever became a starter. The Chiefs have given themselves escape routes if they are interested in a quarterback, but it seems like that player will be a developmental project or drafting in the future and not a top option like Geno Smith.
Until proven otherwise, the Chiefs are just making sure that the demand for their pick doesn’t drop on the trade market.
If two teams are interested in Smith, there Chiefs are basically making it known that their pick can be acquired ahead of the Jaguars—a team also in the market for a quarterback and a potential landing spot for Smith.
It’s not a smokescreen as much as it's the Chiefs dangling the Geno Smith carrot out there in hopes that some team desperate for a quarterback will jump the Jaguars. In return, the Chiefs would get extra draft picks and likely still be able to snag one of their top players, which is an ideal scenario in a deep draft.
The Chiefs also don't really have to smokescreen because if they can't trade down, they will simply have their choice of the best player on their board. The entire point of a smokescreen is to get another team to take a player the team didn't like so that the player they do like falls to them.
If the Chiefs actually like Smith, why would they trade the pick so another team could draft him? They wouldn't, which is why showing interest in Smith is basically a calling card for any team that wants Smith.
The only way the Chiefs could make it any more known that they want to trade down would be to shout it from the rooftops, but that would also effectively kill their leverage, especially if there were only one team that wanted the pick.