Chiefs seem to have confidence in Croyle

Jamie Squire - Getty

Almost everybody was happy with the Chiefs' draft this weekend. Herm Edwards, Bill Kuharich and Carl Peterson all looked satisfied at the wrap-up press conference, talking heads and football writers praised KC's draft like never before, and fans everywhere were jubilant.

But no one should be happier over the draft than quarterback Brodie Croyle. From start to finish, the 12 players Kansas City chose Saturday and Sunday were reflections on how much confidence the franchise has in Croyle's abilities as a starter.

Speculation ran rampant that the Chiefs might select Matt Ryan – the nation's top quarterback prospect - after an army of Kansas City coaches, scouts and front officers invaded his Boston College pro day earlier this offseason. Herm Edwards talked up Ryan's talents in the media, and a photo of Edwards sitting next to Ryan, grinning ear to ear, certainly gave some observers pause.

Ryan wound up going to the Atlanta Falcons at the third pick. The Chiefs never appeared to make an effort to trade up and grab him. Neither ESPN nor the NFL Network reported anything early in the draft that would lead anyone to believe such an attempt was made (rumors did fly concerning the Ravens).

With their second first-round pick, Edwards and company traded up to get offensive tackle Branden Albert, ignoring the second quarterback off the board – Delaware's Joe Flacco, who fell two spots later to Baltimore.

The Chiefs had other opportunities to grab a quarterback, particularly in the fifth and sixth rounds when six of them came off the board, but passed.

What does all of this mean? Edwards and his coaching staff evidently have all the faith in the world that Brodie Croyle has a future as an NFL quarterback. If the draft is any indication, they're prepared to enter 2008 with Croyle under center leading an offense full of other inexperienced players.

In fact, it's not just who the Chiefs didn't take in the draft that leads us to this conclusion. It's who they did take, with seven of their 12 picks – offensive players.

Kansas City's draft retooled Chan Gailey's offense at every level. The Chiefs added two offensive linemen, two wide receivers, two tight ends and a running back. Somewhere, Dick Vermeil was probably getting weepy.

If Albert and sixth-round pick Barry Richardson pan out as offensive tackles (and can keep Croyle healthy, a major issue right now), KC's protection problems will be largely solved. Should fourth-round selection Will Franklin become Gailey's deep threat (Franklin ran a 4.37 40-yard dash at the NFL combine), the Chiefs will have the perfect complement to Dwayne Bowe.

Kansas City's third-round selection, tight end Brad Cottam, had injury issues in college, but just might be the perfect replacement for Tony Gonzalez (6-foot-8 receivers who run 4.6 don't grow on trees). Running back Jamaal Charles gives the offense a home-run threat and restore the mountain-sized chip on Larry Johnson's shoulder.

That's a boatload of talent for a team with major questions at quarterback. There was speculation this offseason from Sports Illustrated's Peter King that Edwards might draft someone like Ryan or Louisville's Brian Brohm to buy himself more time as he attempts to build the Chiefs from the ground up. But judging from the way the draft played out, Edwards has no such anxiety about his job security.

So yes, the Chiefs gave Croyle plenty of support with the draft. Clearly, there was a good reason why he was featured in videos on KcChiefs.com this offseason as a youthful leader. Now it's his job to reward the vote of confidence cast in his direction by taking advantage of all the weapons he was provided with.

He can start by winning an NFL game, to date an accomplishment that has escaped his grasp. How many wins will it take for Croyle to stick as the Chiefs' quarterback? We know Clark Hunt wants to see improvement, so set the goal at seven. The Chiefs shouldn't expect more out of Croyle than what Denver's Jay Cutler (and Troy Aikman) delivered in his second season as a starter.

Anything less, and Herm can always get his quarterback next year. Peter King's prediction might still be accurate, just a year early.

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