Chiefs, Jaguars left in race for No. 1 draft pick
The joke running through Jacksonville these days carries the
same punch line as the one in Kansas City:
”Our team is so bad it can’t even stink in the right
The Chiefs and Jaguars will vie for the top pick in the NFL
draft in separate games Sunday. But the value of ”winning” the
race to the NFL’s worst record is debatable in a year without a
clear, franchise-changing prospect.
There’s no Andrew Luck in this unlucky draft.
No Robert Griffin III, either.
Just a collection of talented young players who could fill holes
at left tackle or linebacker or defensive end, but hardly push the
needle for teams in desperate need of massive overhauls.
The Chiefs and Jaguars are both 2-13, but the Chiefs hold the
tiebreaker for the No. 1 spot because of their weakness of
schedule. The only way Jacksonville can jump them is if they lose
to the Tennessee Titans and Kansas City beats the Denver Broncos,
who are playing for an opportunity to secure home-field advantage
throughout the playoffs.
That would give the Jaguars the worst overall record by
”You don’t want to be in this position,” Jaguars coach Mike
Mularkey said. ”Just like we didn’t want to be in that position in
Atlanta when we drafted Matt Ryan (in 2008). But if you pick up the
right guy, it can make a huge difference for you and get you out of
The Jaguars have never drafted first overall. They had the
second choice in their expansion year of 1995 and again the
following season. But they’re also the only team in the NFL to pick
in the top 10 each of the last six seasons, counting the upcoming
That’s a big reason why general manager Gene Smith, the
architect of their past four drafts, might not be around to make
their choice, regardless of whether it’s No. 1.
Kansas City is in similar shape.
The Chiefs have never had the No. 1 pick as members of the NFL –
they chose Hall of Fame defensive tackle Buck Buchanan first
overall in 1963, when they were still a part of the AFL. The
closest they’ve come since the merger is second overall in 1978,
`79 and again in 1988.
That’s a big reason why GM Scott Pioli could be on the way out,
too: Pioli’s Chiefs could be historically bad.
One thing Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel isn’t thinking about is how
valuable a loss to the Broncos would be in relation to the first
”I think you play to win,” Crennel said Wednesday. ”Whether
you win or lose, that’s what everybody looks at and that’s what
counts. Nobody puts an asterisk in that win-loss column, saying
they lost because they wanted the first pick, something like
The Chiefs and Jaguars are both desperate for a quarterback in a
year in which the crop of players at football’s marquee position is
thin. West Virginia’s Geno Smith, USC’s Matt Barkley and North
Carolina State’s Mike Glennon are considered the top talents
available, but most analysts have been putting their value
somewhere in the mid-20s of the first round.
That means the Chiefs and Jaguars would be reaching for a
”This year, there’s no strength at the top,” ESPN draft
analyst Mel Kiper said on a recent conference call with reporters.
”You don’t have the quarterback, you don’t have the running back,
you don’t have the cornerback or safety.”
Not like last year, when Luck and Griffin were available.
The Colts managed to snag the former Stanford quarterback with
the first overall pick, giving them a flawless bridge from their
Peyton Manning past to their Luck-filled future.
Now, after losing 14 games last season, Indianapolis is back in
That’s right where the Redskins could be this weekend after
choosing Griffin, last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, at No. 2.
Washington needs to beat the Dallas Cowboys or have the Vikings and
Bears both lose Sunday to get into the postseason.
Just how valuable is that franchise quarterback?
”It’s hard to win in this league if you don’t have one,” said
Bruce Arians, who served as the Colts’ interim coach until Chuck
Pagano’s return this week.
The gap between choosing first and second has proven sizeable
some years. In 2009, the Lions landed Matthew Stafford with the
first overall pick. The Rams at No. 2 wound up with offensive
tackle Jason Smith, who has started just 26 games and is already on
his second team.
It was a similar story in 2004, when the Chargers picked Eli
Manning first and then shipped him to the Giants. Oakland had the
second pick and grabbed offensive tackle Robert Gallery, who has
been a productive player but far less valuable than Manning, a
two-time Super Bowl MVP.
Whoever is in charge has to get it right, too, for the first
pick to matter.
The Raiders failed to do that in 2007, when they chose JaMarcus
Russell first. He was out of the league after three years, while
the Lions’ second overall pick, wide receiver Calvin Johnson, just
broke Jerry Rice’s record for yards receiving in a single
Smith and Pioli may be out of jobs come Monday, though, and who
the Chiefs and Jaguars will have orchestrating their draft is about
as clear as whom they’ll select.
Perhaps that’s why Crennel was channeling his inner Herm Edwards
”We play to win the game,” he said, when asked about a loss
guaranteeing the Chiefs the first overall choice. ”That’s the only
way I know how to do it.”
AP Sports Writer Mark Long in Jacksonville, Fla., contributed to
Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and