No clear-cut No. 1 pick in this year's NFL draft

No clear-cut No. 1 pick in this year's NFL draft
February 23, 2013, 7:30 am
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INDIANAPOLIS -- There is no Andrew Luck at the NFL scouting combine this weekend. And there is no Robert Griffin III, either.

In fact, the quarterback-needy Kansas City Chiefs, who own the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft, do not even see a quarterback worthy of a first-round draft choice.

"There is no quarterback where personnel guys can definitely say, 'He's a first-round pick,'" Chiefs new general manager John Dorsey told The Kansas City Star last week. "There were so many inconsistencies in the collective group. There was not one guy that stood up and said, 'I'm the guy in the position this year.' There really wasn't one clear-cut guy.

"There are too many technical flaws, scheme flaws. There are so many different variables, that there are a lot of people all over the place on naming the top four or five guys and who those guys would be."

The Chiefs are coming off a 2-14 season that led to the firings of general manager Scott Pioli and coach Romeo Crennel. Kansas City is in the unfortunate position of picking No. 1 in a year in which there is no clear-cut No. 1 overall pick. The first round of the NFL draft is scheduled to begin Thursday, April 25, at 5 p.m. (PT).

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said there are four players worthy of the No. 1 overall pick: tackles Luke Joeckel (Texas A&M) and Eric Fisher (Central Michigan), and guards Chance Warmack (Alabama) and Jonathan Cooper (North Carolina).

Joeckel, who measured at 6-foot-6, 306 pounds, appears to be the front-runner for the No. 1 draft slot.

"I am definitely striving to be the No. 1 pick, going through this entire process and playing this season and all that kind of stuff," Joeckel said. "But my dream is to just play in the NFL. I know, being the No. 1 pick, after that, it doesn't really matter. You've got to go prove yourself in the NFL.

"It's just like that in college. Being the No. 1 recruit in college doesn't matter unless you step on that campus. It's the same thing. It's cool and everything, but going to any team I go through, proving myself there will be the biggest thing."

Dorsey has since backed off his comment about the crop of quarterbacks at the draft.

"When I made that comment it was the first phase of evaluations," Dorsey said. "It is an ongoing situation and at the end, we will see what happens, but it will be the best available player.

"I am considering 333 players in the combine right now."

Geno Smith of West Virginia is considered the top quarterback available. As a senior, he completed 71.2 percent of his passing attempts for 4,205 yards with 42 touchdowns and six interceptions.

"I can't expect to prove any of those people wrong without even playing a down in the NFL," Smith said. "My only expectation is to become as polished as I possibly can when I enter into the NFL and compete and be a competitor, that's all I know how to do."

When Matt Barkley returned for his senior season at USC, he was considered the front-runner to be the top pick in the 2013 draft. But he took a step back from an outstanding junior season. Barkley, who threw 36 touchdown passes as a senior, saw his interceptions rise from seven in 2011 to 15 last season.

This rookie class of quarterbacks has a tough act to follow. Last season, Luck, Griffin and Russell Wilson, a third-round pick of the Seattle Seahawks, each led his team into the playoffs.

"Those guys came right away and played and made their marks, won playoff games," Barkley said. "There's always going to be that comparison, whether it's just or unjust. I don't feel like there's any pressure on my part to live up to them."

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