The Chiefs and the Saints aren’t the first teams that come to mind when figuring out which teams will choose a quarterback in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft.
Not only do those teams have proven starters, but they also are the two teams that have gone the longest without drafting a quarterback in the first round.
According to Pro Football Reference, the Chiefs haven’t taken a quarterback in the first round since they took Todd Blackledge out of Penn State in 1983. He went 15-14 as a starter and never started more than eight games in a season, finishing his career with the Steelers in 1989.
The Saints have gone even longer without using their first-round pick on a quarterback. They’ve only done it once, taking Archie Manning from Mississippi in 1971. Manning made two Pro Bowls but had a bigger impact on the NFL by bringing Peyton and Eli into the world.
Although the Chiefs didn’t draft Alex Smith and the Saints didn’t draft Drew Brees, both were high draft picks. The 49ers drafted Smith with the top overall pick in 2005 and traded him to the Chiefs in 2013. The Chargers used the first pick in the second round to take Brees in 2001. There were only 31 teams then, so Brees was the 32nd overall pick. The Chargers moved on from Brees after he suffered a shoulder injury in 2005. The Saints signed him and Brees brought the Saints a championship in 2009.
The Saints have the 11th pick in the first round this year and the Chiefs have the 27th pick.
Quarterback isn’t among the Saints’ most pressing draft needs, but Brees is 38, backup Luke McCown is 35 and 25-year-old Garrett Grayson doesn’t exactly scream “quarterback of the future.”
Alex Smith is 2-4 in playoff games and has never reached a Super Bowl, but he’s 41-20 in the regular season for the Chiefs and 60-25-1 in the regular season since 2011.
Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said at the NFL scouting combine that none of the top quarterback prospects in this year’s draft are ready to play right away. Neither his team nor the Saints need a quarterback right away, which could make this the perfect situation for either team to take the plunge and finally draft a quarterback in the first round.
According to Terez Paylor of The Kansas City Star, six quarterbacks said they had formal interviews with the Chiefs at the combine. Teams are allowed 60 formal meetings with players. So the Chiefs weren’t just shooting the breeze with these guys.
Mitch Trubisky of North Carolina, Deshaun Watson of Clemson, DeShone Kizer of Notre Dame, Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech and Davis Webb of Cal have been talked about as the top five quarterbacks of this year’s draft. Some have included Miami’s Brad Kaaya and Pittsburgh’s Nathan Peterman.
It’s unclear if any of them were among the quarterbacks the Chiefs interviewed, but there’s a chance Dorsey was blowing smoke to try to get one of those quarterbacks to fall to No. 27.
If the Saints draft a quarterback, it wouldn’t be shocking given Brees’ age.
Smith will only be 33 next season, but he suggested at the Pro Bowl that he’d be OK if the Chiefs drafted a quarterback.
However, if either of these teams pull the trigger on a quarterback in the first round, it would raise some eyebrows considering their history.