In April 2017, the Kansas City Chiefs traded up in the NFL draft for a quarterback in the first round. This was the first quarterback they've picked in the first round in 34 years.
The dark horse quarterback picked was Patrick Mahomes II, a junior from Texas Tech. The Chiefs gave not only their 2017 first and third-round picks for him, but also their 2018 first-round pick. Mahomes has become the questioned prized possession for the reigning AFC West champions.
While some fans were disappointed and questioned why the team would waste so much on a player who will likely begin his career as a backup, their confusion turned to joy in the the months following, thanks to organized team activities and Mahomes' stellar play in the preseason so far.
That pleasant surprise has led to further confusion now as to why Mahomes has not been named the starting quarterback for the 2017 season.
Many are disappointed with current starting quarterback Alex Smith. Fans want Smith to throw the ball farther, improve his time management skills and perform in the playoffs. Smith has only won one playoff game in three postseason appearances for the Chiefs.
However, Chiefs fans are forgetting what Smith has achieved not only statistically, but in helping the franchise grow.
In the 10 seasons before Smith, from 2003-2012, Kansas City saw four winning seasons. Three of those seasons produced playoff appearances where they lost every game. In that 10-year span, the Chiefs also saw four seasons of four or less wins, three happening consecutively from 2007-09.
In comparison, Smith’s four seasons have all been above .500. He took the franchise back to the playoffs, where they won a playoff game for the first time since 1993.
Smith is not an MVP-caliber player. He is not on the same platform as New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady or Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but then again, not many are.
He has not had the most successful career as a quarterback — even in the last decade. However, he is easily the most consistent quarterback the Chiefs have had in recent years. In an offseason in which the Chiefs had the No. 1 pick in the 2013 draft, Smith started that season 9-0 and took the Chiefs to the playoffs.
Even in his last two seasons before going to the Chiefs, once he found a reliable coach in Jim Harbaugh with the San Francisco 49ers, he excelled in the spotlight. In the 2011 season, he took the 49ers to the playoffs for the first time since 2002, and nearly made a Super Bowl appearance with just two costly punt return fumbles in the 2011 NFC Championship stopping him.
Also, many forget that when quarterback Colin Kaepernick took the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013, Smith's injury cost him his starting job and halted him from improving on his 6-2 starter record that season.
Smith came to the Chiefs arguably at the best time in his career. With new coach Andy Reid and then-general manager John Dorsey, he was the new face of the franchise.
He still is the starting quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, and rightfully so.
Mahomes has the potential to be a fantastic player with a solid chance at surpassing Smith. However, he is not the better starting quarterback right now.
After this season, Mahomes will have had the opportunity to sit behind and learn from a top-10 active quarterback, making his game much stronger.
Smith earned his spot and deserves to keep it, and based on recent seasons, fans should be no less than pleased with what he has done for the franchise.