KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- When the Kansas City Chiefs drafted quarterback Todd Blackledge in the first round in 1983, current team chairman Clark Hunt was in his senior year of high school in Dallas.
Asked what he remembered about the pick, Hunt said, “Not a lot. I think I was worried about finals that were coming up."
Since Blackledge, who played five seasons for the Chiefs, was eventually sent on his way, the Chiefs have drafted only two quarterbacks who have gone on to so much as start a game for them. Their combined record of those starts was 0-11.
The Chiefs have spent most of the time since drafting Blackledge by going with quarterbacks who have been rejected by or were backups with other teams.
That’s why Hunt didn’t flinch when general manager John Dorsey approached him a few days before the draft and asked for permission to trade next year’s first-round draft pick to move up in the first round this year and select a quarterback, Patrick Mahomes of Texas Tech.
“It’s not a decision that I take lightly," Hunt said. “But all things considered, it was not a hard decision. The chance to get a quarterback who can be a franchise quarterback for the Chiefs in the future made it a pretty easy decision."
With both Dorsey and coach Andy Reid in favor of acquiring Mahomes, Hunt got aboard quickly.
“They both know the quarterback position," Hunt said. “I think Andy has a tremendous history of developing young quarterbacks. He really felt Patrick’s skill set and his personality and his mental approach to the game were some things that he could work with and really turn him into a great quarterback.
“Having Andy and John at the helm made this a much easier decision for me to agree with because I respect their opinion so much."
In a sense, Thursday's trade goes against Hunt’s stated philosophy of building the Chiefs through the draft. They won’t have a first-round pick next season for the first time since 2001, not counting a couple of years they traded back on draft day into the early second round.
The lure of acquiring a young quarterback who can be the Chiefs’ long-term solution at a most important position was the determining factor. The Chiefs also threw one of their third-round picks this year into the trade with the Buffalo Bills to move up from 27th in the first round to 10th.
“We think it’s going to be worthwhile, or we wouldn’t have made the trade," Hunt said. “I’m a big fan of accumulating extra draft picks because it gives you flexibility. I think in a lot of ways you can look at this draft and see the flexibility we had; having 10 picks made it easier for us to make this decision to give up a couple of picks to move up."
The journey at quarterback for the Chiefs over the past 34 years saw them draft a passer in the second round twice. Neither ever started a game for Kansas City.
They twice traded first-round picks to acquire quarterbacks. They traded a No. 2 for Matt Cassel and two second-round picks for the current starter, Alex Smith.
It took a bold draft trade for the Chiefs to finally get a quarterback they can call their own.
“I agree with the decisions we’ve made over the last 10 years to acquire the guys that have started for us at the QB position," Hunt said. “We’re lucky to have Alex Smith. ... We just have never really been in a situation where we had a quarterback that we thought that much of and we could actually go get based on where we were drafting."