Eric Fisher would be no prize in 2014 draft

After months of research, the Kansas City Chiefs determined around this time last year they would make an offensive tackle, Eric Fisher of Central Michigan, the first pick in the NFL draft. While the Chiefs smiled and seemed pleased with their choice, there was also the understanding they were making the best of a less than ideal situation.

The Chiefs had the first pick in the NFL draft for the first time ever and were faced with a largely unappetizing array of choices. The 2013 draft contained no can’t-miss quarterbacks or other franchise-rescuing players at other high-profile positions like outside linebacker, wide receiver or cornerback.

So the Chiefs went with Fisher, who projected to be a solid player but still seemed like a consolation prize.

Just how much of a consolation prize he was comes into better view by looking at what was available in the drafts immediately before and after. If the Chiefs had the first pick in the 2012 draft, they would now be quarterbacked by Andrew Luck.

If they had the top choice this year they could choose from a bounty that includes a player with uncommon pass-rush skills (South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney) or a can’t-miss wide receiver (Clemson’s Sammy Watkins), among others.

They could also have had any of three offensive tackles that ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said this week he would have rated ahead of Fisher if Fisher was available in this draft. Those tackles are Greg Robinson of Auburn, Jake Matthews of Texas A&M and Taylor Lewan of Michigan.

“It’s a completely different year than last year,’’ Kiper said. “He would have been the fourth offensive tackle taken, probably somewhere between eight and 15 (overall).’’

So it’s the luck of the Chiefs that they were stuck with the draft’s top pick in a down year. Fisher’s rookie season was a rocky one, but there is reason to believe he won't become the player the Chiefs envisioned when they drafted him.

He is a very good player. But not the kind of franchise savior they could have picked had they drafted No. 1 in 2012 or 2014.