Breaking it down: QB analysis

Free agency is over a month away, but already the Chiefs are making moves on the roster, pondering who to extend, and figuring who to let go.  In this series, which will be in eight parts (QBs, RBs/FBs, WRs/TEs, OL, DL, LBs, DBs, and special teams), we look at the big questions facing the team in free agency, the draft, and just where the Chiefs have the most talent and depth and the most concerns as they try to build upon their successes from the 2013 season.

Every position will be given one of five scores: Strong, Adequate, Marginal, Inadequate, and Severely Inadequate.  Here’s what those mean:

Strong (S) means the position has elite starting talent and good depth.  Faces could be brought in for competition, but that’s about it.   Adequate (A) means the position has good starting talent, and/or could use and upgrade at depth.   Marginal (M) means the position has adequate starting talent, but upgrades are recommended at the starting level and depth needs to be upgraded.   Inadequate (I) means the starting talent is barely adequate and depth needs to be upgraded.   Severely Inadequate (SI) means the starting talent needs to be replaced and the entire depth chart needs to be rebuilt (think KC Chiefs QBs in 2012).

Quarterback (A):  Alex Smith is more than just a game manager, but he’s not elite, either.  He is a good franchise QB, and Reid really believes in him.  Smith doesn’t make stupid mistakes, has very good short-to-intermediate accuracy, has a great work ethic, and a very good leader.  Unfortunately, Smith really lacks some of what you want in a QB.  He lacks great arm strength.  He also plays too conservative at times, and lacks that “clutch” factor.  Smith is good enough to keep as the starter, but he is not an elite talent like a Peyton Manning or Drew Brees.  He is in the last year of his contract, but the Chiefs have to wonder how long of a contract they will extend to a QB who turns 30 this year.

Chase Daniel looked good in his only regular-season starting performance of his entire NFL career, torturing San Diego’s starters with a backup supporting cast.  I still have my reservations of him taking the reins if Smith goes down, because that was only one game against a team that was completely unprepared.  He looked totally unimpressive in mop-up duty against Washington, including throwing a pick on his first pass play of the 2013 season.  He is OK, but Daniel just doesn’t inspire confidence that he will ever be a starter.  He has two years remaining on his contract, so he isn’t going anywhere if the Chiefs don’t want him to.

Could Tyler Bray be that guy?  The kid has a rocket for an arm, and the main reason he fell out of the draft was concerns about his maturity.  During the preseason, he was more interested in studying his playbook than going out, so the maturity concerns may be mostly in the past.  The only problem I have with Bray is his lack of mobility.  Most of Reid’s QBs have been great scramblers – McNabb, Vick, and Smith.  Even Kevin Kolb, while not great, had better mobility than Bray.  Bray has tons of upside, but he’s more of a pocket passer, like Peyton Manning.  I’m not sure how he fits.  Chiefs would’ve been better off a classic dual-threat QB, perhaps Matt Scott out of Arizona (also went undrafted).

The Chiefs have a good starter, a good backup, and a good developmental player, but I don’t think Bray is in the right system.  As a result, I don’t see an heir apparent for Alex Smith that will ensure this team’s progression to the next level for years to come.  This looks to be a deep year at QB, but the Chiefs have only 6 draft picks and bigger needs.

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