<
>

Alex Smith doesn't need to be told the Chiefs are likely to draft a QB

Alex Smith, who turns 33 next month, has two seasons left on the contract he signed with the Chiefs in 2014. Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Alex Smith looked around in the quarterback meeting on Monday as the Kansas City Chiefs gathered for the start of their offseason workout program and saw only two others in the room with him. Neither Tyler Bray nor Joel Stave have so much as taken a snap in an NFL regular-season game.

Smith doesn't need to be told there's a strong possibility the Chiefs pick a quarterback they envision to be his eventual successor in the upcoming draft.

"This is the NFL," he said. "I've been playing long enough. You pretty quickly realize we've only got three guys in the quarterback room, right? We're a guy short. Someone's coming in."

The Chiefs have met with many of the draft's top quarterback prospects, which doesn't mean they will draft one. But other signs point to them drafting one early, perhaps in the first round for the first time since 1983.

The Chiefs are short at quarterback, not only in numbers but in serious candidates to eventually replace Smith, who turns 33 next month. Neither Bray not Stave was drafted coming out of college.

The Chiefs have 10 picks in the draft, so they can afford to spend one on a quarterback who doesn't necessarily have to play for another season or two. They also have the picks to move up a few spots in a particular round, if they so choose.

Smith has two seasons left on the contract he signed with the Chiefs in 2014. His presence for at least one more season affords the Chiefs the luxury of developing a young quarterback without having to force him into the lineup.

The issue is potentially a delicate one for the Chiefs. They're committed to Smith as their starter for next season, but have to prepare for life without him, whenever that day might come.

If they draft a quarterback in the first round, the Chiefs are putting more pressure on Smith, at least from a public standpoint, than they have since he arrived in 2013.

That's why coach Andy Reid attempted to downplay the situation.

"We've drafted quarterbacks just about every year that he's been here," he said. "I don't think quarterbacks coming through the door, I don't think that's a big deal to him. He's long enough in his career to understand how this whole thing works. I think he has a lot of confidence in his ability, as we do.

"That's not where his mind is. His mind is getting back in, doing all of his film work from this past season ... and then continue to work out. He's been on a six-week workout program over in Hawaii. He's in phenomenal shape right now. He looks great."

The Chiefs drafted quarterbacks Aaron Murray in 2014 and Kevin Hogan last year. But each player was picked in the fifth round and has since moved on.

All Smith can do is try to put off what seems inevitable and make the decision to eventually replace him as difficult as possible. That's the reason behind his Hawaiian workouts, which included some underwater work like he did last year.

"For me, that's fun," Smith said. "It's different. Year-round, you're not just going to be sitting under a squat rack. For me, I'm getting older and (try to) take a load off and do different stuff and try to stay explosive and do different things.

Smith added that what he hasn't done and won't do is stress about what the Chiefs might do in the draft at quarterback.

"Any anxiety you might have over it is pointless," he said. "It has no bearing on me and my focus and what I'm working towards. I control that. So me worrying about that or dwelling on anything else is unproductive."