To build a successful offense in the NFL, teams have to find a quarterback that can pull the trigger and win games in clutch moments. Those quarterbacks need a few things to succeed as well. Quarterbacks need offensive weapons, preferably a running game and, although it’s overlooked more times than not, pass protection.
The Kansas City Chiefs didn’t forget about the all-important pass protectors going into April’s draft, selecting tackle Eric Fisher with the first overall pick. The idea, at least in theory, was to bring in a top pass protector to keep quarterback Alex Smith’s blindside safe while he operated the Chiefs’ offense.
In practice, the Chiefs have struggled at times to keep Smith on his feet, and Fisher has been more than a small part of those problems.
In the NFL, safe draft picks don’t exist. Fisher was viewed as a bit of a gamble compared to Luke Joeckel, who was taken second overall by the Jaguars. Still, Fisher climbed the board to become the consensus top pick, and that’s exactly where the Chiefs drafted him.
Now, as often happens with high picks, the Chiefs may be wishing they would have gone a different direction in April. It’s still entirely too early to pass judgment on Fisher, who has just begun his NFL career. Still, a first overall pick is expected to make an immediate impact, and Fisher has not performed up to expectations.
Against the Denver Broncos, Fisher was never able to establish himself as a wall between the Broncos’ defense and Alex Smith. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why Fisher struggled so much against the Broncos. At times, Fisher was out of position, and in other cases, he was simply overpowered by the Broncos’ defensive front. In any case, Fisher didn’t appear to be a top pick. Instead, he looked like a completely mediocre offensive tackle in an offense that was struggling to produce points.
The Chiefs knew when they drafted Fisher that he wouldn’t the best tackle in the NFL right off the bat. Those types of expectations, while possibly present from members of the media and the Chiefs’ fan base, are simply unrealistic. There’s a learning curve at every position on the field when making the switch from college football to the NFL. That being said, the Chiefs likely expected to see better protection from their top pick.
So, to get back to our original question, do the Chiefs wish they would have went a different direction in April’s draft? At this point, they probably wish they had picked another player. Although Fisher may yet develop into a solid tackle, he hasn’t displayed anything resembling top pick talent at his position. At times he’s had quick defenders simply run by him, and he’s allowed defenders to bull rush through him. Being the top pick in the draft never guarantees success, just ask Alex Smith how difficult it was to establish himself as a consistent quarterback.
Fisher has played well enough to help the Chiefs’ offensive line, but he’s a long way from being a shutdown offensive tackle. The Chiefs, being tied to him for some time, are now hoping he’ll develop into the player they had hoped they were drafting back in April.