LEAWOOD, Kan. — That’s the beauty of the NFL Draft, isn’t it? After a few drinks, everybody’s a stinking expert.
“I just think Fisher has got something about him. Just looks like he’s meaner,” James Gutierrez said.
“When you look at him, you can tell he’s looking to knock you down and keep you down,” James Anderson said.
“Fisher’s the better athlete, in my book, I believe,” Tommy Anderson said.
As the millionaires and talking heads rubbed cufflinks at Radio City Music Hall for the NFL Draft, the congregations huddled up in sports bars and man caves all across Kansas City to weigh in on tackle Eric Fisher, the No. 1 pick overall.
The firm of Anderson, Gutierrez and Anderson, Chiefs fans all, watched from a sweetheart table at the 810 Zone restaurant in the Kansas City suburb of Leawood, roughly 10 yards from a giant hi-def television along the wall.
As the pick for the 6-foot-8 lineman out of Central Michigan — the first Chippewa and first Mid-American Conference player ever to be selected No. 1 overall — was announced Thursday evening, they rested their respective libations. They then raised their fists, collectively, to the sky in a Kansas City salute, burnt ends reaching out to big tackles.
It was love at first sight.
Love, and a little bit of fear.
Which was awesome.
“I think we need some attitude,” offered Gutierrez, of Independence, Mo., one of 250 or so Chiefs fans crammed into the restaurant, where it was standing-room-only much of the night.
“Especially after a 2-14 season, give me a break. We need somebody in there that’s going to light a fire under the other guys. And I think Fisher is that guy.”
At least, they hope.
In truth, it was a restrained, almost perfunctory sort of celebration in Leawood, reflective of a restrained, almost perfunctory sort of first round. For most of the day, Chiefs Nation was resigned to its fate: With no marquee quarterback, running back or receiver out there to be had, it was either tackle or trade — and the latter was a long shot. Plus, there was precedent: In Philadelphia, new Chiefs coach Andy Reid wound up taking an offensive lineman or defensive lineman first in eight of his 14 Eagles drafts.
With about 90 minutes before the first pick was announced, word started to leak around social media that the selection presumed, for months, to be Texas A&M’s Luke Joeckel would now instead go to Fisher, a two-star prep recruit out of Rochester Hills, Mich., hoisted from the roughest of rough to become the biggest diamond on the block.
If there was any drama, if there was any surprise, it was that. But, as curveballs go, it felt a bit restrained, too.
“Their hands were tied,” shrugged Gutierrez, a former Chiefs season-ticket holder. “There was like no bargaining chip there. There was no great quarterback, no great receiver, no great standout guy. So, you know, no one’s going to try to trade up.”
“It was expected,” countered James Anderson, one of Gutierrez’s old season-ticket partners. “But hey, it was the safe pick.”
Safe and historic. Fisher was the first non-BCS non-quarterback to be taken No. 1 overall since Ed “Too Tall” Jones was plucked from Tennessee State in 1974.
Long arms. Small school. No worries.
“No, not one bit,” James Anderson allowed. “I think the level of competition in college is a little bit overrated.”
Satisfied? Sure. Giddy? That’d be a stretch. The Chiefs — for the moment — have two high-end pass-blockers in Fisher and incumbent left tackle Branden Albert, and both can’t protect signal-caller Alex Smith’s blind side at the same time. Albert wants a long-term contract and a guarantee of remaining at left tackle, neither of which the current Chiefs regime seem to be willing to seal with a kiss.
Meanwhile, the Dolphins notably failed to address their tackle problem in Round 1, and Kansas City general manager John Dorsey noted that talks with Miami about a possible Albert-for-picks swap are expected to resume early Friday.
“I wish they would sit down with Albert, talk to him, move him to that other position (on the line),” sighed Tommy Anderson, James’ dad, another Chiefs lifer. “We need to keep Albert. I don’t want Albert to go.”
Hey, when it comes to the NFL Draft, in the words of Mick Jagger, you don’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need.
“Ya know, I was kind of hoping for (Joeckel),” Monte Short, better known to Chiefs fans as ‘Arrowman,’ chuckled as he left the restaurant with wife Stacie. “But ya know, I’m leaving it to the scouts on that one. I trust them. He must be really agile or something.”
Or really mean. Either way, at first blush, it works.
You can follow Sean Keeler on Twitter @seankeeler or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org