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Chiefs may go with QB early in draft

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By Eli Kaberon

The popular belief is that the Chiefs will focus on their defense in the upcoming NFL draft after spending nearly all of free agency upgrading their offense. However, we hear there is growing speculation around team headquarters that the team could go the other direction and add a quarterback in the first or second round.

According to sources, the quarterback the Chiefs are highest on is Texas A&M’s Ryan Tannehill. With a strong arm and good athleticism, many in Kansas City believe he would be a perfect fit for offensive coordinator Brian Daboll’s scheme, which involves moving the pocket and a lot of downfield throws. However, selecting Tannehill would likely require the Chiefs to move up from the No. 11 spot in the draft, as it is unlikely he would fall past the Dolphins, who pick eighth.

The Chiefs, who have not drafted a quarterback in the first round since 1983 (Todd Blackledge), have met with Tannehill on several occasions leading up to the draft. Quarterbacks coach Jim Zorn has also met with Michigan State’s Kirk Cousins, a prospect who may be available for the team’s second-round pick, No. 44 overall.

With starter Matt Cassel coming off a season-ending hand injury and questions arising about his consistency, we hear that some within the front office believe the time is now to get a young quarterback on the depth chart. The team drafted Ricky Stanzi in the fifth round last season, but his future doesn’t appear bright after he couldn’t earn any playing time in 2011 when Cassel was placed on I.R. Backup Brady Quinn, one of the free-agent additions made by the team this spring, is also not a viable long-term candidate to start.

Chiefs GM Scott Pioli hasn’t been afraid to draft for need in the past — he selected WR Jonathan Baldwin in the first round last year when many projected him to go later. Defense is still likely the way to go for the Chiefs, but we hear more and more that if the chance to get a prospect like Tannehill or Cousins presents itself, Pioli is willing to consider making the move.

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