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Chiefs narrow prospects for top pick to four

  • Kansas City Star
  • Published Friday, April 19, 2013, at 8:02 p.m.

— Three months have passed since John Dorsey was hired as general manager of the Chiefs. Most of his waking hours, not to mention those of the scouts, have been spent researching players available in the upcoming NFL Draft.

But Dorsey said Friday, six days before the Chiefs are scheduled to make the first overall pick in the draft, they haven’t settled on the player they would select. Dorsey did say the Chiefs narrowed the list of candidates to four, though he wouldn’t identify them.

“You still have to give yourself some options,” Dorsey said at his predraft news conference. “What you kind of do now is just kind of see how these four guys play and kind of watch the games as they’re played. You understand them as people, now watch them play their respective position.

“When that curtain is raised on Thursday, we’ll be ready. But right now it’s still ongoing and you never know what’s going to happen.”

Dorsey and coach Andy Reid said early in the draft process they wanted to select the best available player for the Chiefs and not pick to merely fill a hole in the lineup. But the Chiefs still have an issue at left tackle, an important position, where Branden Albert is the incumbent.

Two of the players generally considered to be among the top available players, Luke Joeckel of Texas A&M and Eric Fisher of Central Michigan, are offensive tackles. At this point, since the Chiefs have offered Albert in trade talks, it would be an upset if they picked someone other than Fisher and Joeckel.

Buzz among scouts around the league is that the Chiefs prefer Joeckel. Dorsey on Friday wouldn’t venture into the Joeckel vs. Fisher debate.

“They’re both really fine football players,” Dorsey said. “This year the offensive line position has some true prospects in it.”

This year’s draft is generally considered to have a lot of good available players but not the star quality among the top prospects. Asked whether Joeckel and Fisher would be considered top draft prospects in another year, Dorsey said, “Every draft has its unique characteristics. The unique characteristics are that there are offensive linemen in this draft, defensive linemen in this draft and corners.”

At other positions, the Chiefs attempted to fill holes with veterans. They traded for or signed several players who will at least compete for starting spots, including quarterback Alex Smith, wide receiver Donnie Avery, tight end Anthony Fasano, offensive lineman Geoff Schwartz, defensive lineman Mike DeVito, linebacker Akeem Jordan and cornerbacks Sean Smith and Dunta Robinson.

“We tried to fill in in free agency a little bit,” Dorsey said. “We secured players for the existing team. In order to move ahead, you have to make those types of moves. I’m very happy with the free agents we signed. Now you look forward to the college drafting part of it and then you get ready for training camp.”

Dorsey indicated the Chiefs would listen to any trade offers for the draft’s top pick that might come their way. That’s why the Chiefs might not rush to the podium with their pick once the draft begins next Thursday night, not necessarily to build suspense but in hope of receiving a strong trade proposal.

“What I have to do is what’s best for the Kansas City Chiefs organization,” Dorsey said. “I’ll explore every option available. You have all the way up to that last minute, so we’ll see.”

Once they finish the draft, the Chiefs are almost ready to head to camp. The only nagging issue is that surrounding Albert.

When the sides failed to agree on terms of a long-term contract, the Chiefs designated Albert as their franchise player. He signed the one-year, $9.83 million contract the Chiefs were obligated to offer him but since demonstrated his unhappiness with the situation with both his words and by holding out from the Chiefs offseason conditioning program.

He was absent from the three-day mini-camp this week.

Dorsey repeated what Reid said the previous day, that the Chiefs have given the Miami Dolphins permission to speak with Albert’s agent, but not Albert himself.

Even that move seems a logical step in the trade process but Dorsey said the Chiefs weren’t committed to trading Albert.

“Branden Albert is a good football player,” he said. “We wouldn’t have stuck the franchise tag on him if he wasn’t. It’s my job to explore all options and that’s kind of what’s going on.”

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