Chiefs’ next QB heir inherits history of futility

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs enter the upcoming NFL draft with the possibility of selecting a quarterback in the early rounds a distinct possibility.

Former Chiefs quarterback Todd Blackledge, the team's 1983 first-round draft pick, remains the last drafted QB by the Chiefs to win a game for the team. (Photo courtesy Chiefs PR, Chiefs.com)

Former Chiefs quarterback Todd Blackledge, the team’s 1983 first-round draft pick, remains the last drafted QB by the Chiefs to win a game for the team. (Photo courtesy Chiefs PR, Chiefs.com)

General manger John Dorsey expressed his willingness to take the plunge in the first round, if the right player is available.

“If he’s deemed the best available player I will, and I’ll do that,” Dorsey said during his pre-draft press conference.

Chiefs fans hunger for their team to find a quarterback to call their own. But the team’s next young signal caller will follow in the steps of futility where the franchise’s failure of developing drafted quarterbacks can only possibly be compared to growing potatoes on Mars.

Most of the Chiefs best-performing quarterbacks, from Len Dawson and Joe Montana to Trent Green and Alex Smith, came to Kansas City via trades and free agency. The team’s history of drafted quarterbacks consist primarily of trivia questions used to challenge friends if they truly know their Chiefs.

And the answer to many of those trivia questions is Todd Blackledge.

Blackledge came to the Chiefs in the history draft of 1983, best known for generating six Hall of Famers in the first round including three quarterbacks.

Top Ten quarterbacks drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs ranked by passing yardage.

Top Ten quarterbacks drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs ranked by passing yardage.

The Chiefs selected Blackledge with the seventh pick in the draft. The Baltimore Colts made John Elway the No. 1 pick in the draft. With Blackledge off the board, the Buffalo Bills selected Hall of Famer Jim Kelly seven picks later.

The New England Patriots chose Tony Eason, who would take them to the Super Bowl three seasons later. The New York Jets took Ken O’Brien with the 24th pick, while the Miami Dolphins took Dan Marino three picks later.

Who is the last first-round QB selected by the Chiefs? Blackledge.

Who is the last QB the Chiefs draft to win a game for the team? Blackledge.

Who is the last QB the team drafted with a winning record for the Chiefs? Blackledge.

The Penn State quarterback started 24 games for the Chiefs over the course of five seasons, posting a record of 13-11. But Blackledge completed just 48 percent of passes in his career with 29 touchdowns, 38 interceptions and a passer rating of 60.2.

Yet that almost stands as that high water mark for Chiefs quarterbacks.

The team has selected 32 quarterbacks in the amateur draft dating back to 1961. A total of 15 have never played in an NFL regular season game, including fifth-round draft picks Aaron Murray in 2014 and Ricky Stanzi in 2011.

Several others never played for the Chiefs. That includes last year’s fifth-round draft pick Kevin Hogan.

Some of the quarterbacks new marks for futility. Steve Stenstrom, the team’s fourth-round pick in 1994, posted a 1-9 record as a starter for Chicago.

Third-round pick Brodie Croyle from the 2006 draft holds an ignominious NFL record. He owns a 0-10 record as a starter, the most losses without a win in league history. Tennessee Titans QB Zach Mettenberger matched that mark in 2015.

The Chiefs have only selected two quarterbacks in the first round other than Blackledge: Pete Beathard, the No. 2 overall pick in 1964, and Steve Fuller, the 23rd overall pick in 1979.

Beathard started 35 games in his NFL career, but just two with the Chiefs. Fuller went 13-18 as the Chiefs starter in four seasons, but achieved his greatest NFL game as the backup to Jim McMahon for the Chicago Bears during their 1985 Super Bowl season.

The best Chiefs career for a drafted quarterback belongs to Mike Livingston, and his story offers eerie parallels to the current state of the Chiefs.

The Chiefs entered the 1968 NFL draft with a veteran roster that challenging for the AFL title. The team finished second the the Raiders with a 9-5 record, the second-best record in the AFL.

Veteran starting quarterback Len Dawson would turn 33 in June — the same age current Chiefs starter Alex Smith turns in May.

The Chiefs selected Livingston in the second round from SMU. Coach Hank Stram liked stockpiling quarterbacks, although he preferred to play just one quarterback. The Chiefs were Dawson’s team.

Injuries to Dawson and backup Jacky Lee forced Livingston into the breach during the 1969 regular season. He started six games, winning all six, relying more on his team’s run game and punishing defense more than his arm. The Chiefs finished the season as Super Bowl champs.

Unfortunately for Livingston, Dawson proved far from finished as the team’s quarterback. Livingston filled in on occasion for Dawson over the next five seasons, and did not take over as the full-time starter in 1976 at the age of 31.

The Chiefs floundered with both Stram and the core of their championship team gone. Livingston went 10-29 as a full-time starter over the three season. In 1979 the Chiefs selected Fuller, who pushed Livingston out.

While Livingston ranks as the Chiefs’ best homegrown quarterback, he’s not the best QB the team drafted. That honor belongs to the one who got away.

Before the AFL-NFL merger in 1966, teams in both leagues often drafted the same players and engaged in a bidding war for their services. In 1964 the Chiefs selected selected Navy QB Roger Staubach. The Dallas Cowboys also selected Staubach, in the 10th round of the NFL draft.

Staubach had a five-year commitment to the Navy, which meant he could not play in the NFL until the 1969. That did not stop the Cowboys, however, from signing the 1963 Heisman Trophy winner. Staubach finished his 11-year career with a glossy 85-29 record as a starter and two Super Bowl championships.

How does Staubach stack up among drafted Chiefs quarterbacks? Those 85 wins are only seven less than the combined 92 wins posted by the other 31 quarterbacks the team drafted.

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Matt Derrick is the lead beat writer for ChiefsDigest.com. Use the contact page to reach him or find him on Twitter: @MattDerrick.

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