COMMENTARY | When the Kansas City Chiefs finished their worst-ever season, the first overall pick loomed. And it didn’t look good.
Chiefs fans moaned that the 2012 draft featured Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III. The 2013 draft? Not much top-level talent under center.
So the Chiefs went out and traded for Alex Smith, a definite upgrade from the Matt Cassel era.
This made the needs for the Chiefs much clearer — a top-tier offensive lineman to replace aging LT Brandon Albert. There were three options to be the first offensive lineman taken first overall since Jake Long in 2008 — and just the fourth ever.
Eric Fisher out of Central Michigan University was the pick and the hopes of the Chiefs franchise are now on his big shoulders.
As Frank Schwab at Shutdown Corner wrote, saying that Fisher would be the first overall pick four years ago when he enrolled in CMU, just one of two colleges to offer him a scholarship, would have got you laughed out of the room. And this might just be why he is the right pick.
Fisher didn’t get to rely on being larger than his opponents in high school or early in his college career. This allowed him to get the technique that has impressed draft experts — though he does have a tendency to be a little upright which the larger and stronger defensive ends could use to bullrush him back into Smith.
CBS Sports’ Rob Rang calls Fisher “A smooth pass-protector and a more physical run-blocker than Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel.”
This could play into the Chiefs’ strengths — the Chiefs still have home run threat Jamaal Charles in the backfield. With Andy Reid taking over as coach, protecting the quarterback is a must — Reid’s teams are notorious for passing at a higher rate than other NFL teams.
Other experts say that Fisher is still getting stronger — meaning Fisher will continue to improve when he goes up against the more powerful, experience NFL pass-rushers.
The obvious downside has little to with Fisher himself. If Smith turns back into the Smith of his early career, the Chiefs will still not have what it needs to make the playoffs — a capable quarterback.
It doesn’t help to have a top tier left tackle keeping the quarterback upright if the quarterback can’t make the plays — just ask Long, who only made the playoffs once in his five injury-plagued seasons with the Miami Dolphins.
Matthew Reichbach is a freelance writer. You can follow Matthew on Twitter at @3_2count.