So you've noticed a bit more excitement than normal over a fifth round selection. Previous Chiefs draft picks at the same point in recent years include Colin Brown, Kolby Smith, Justin Medlock and Marcus Maxey. Besides Brandon Carr, it's typically a wasteland for local Kansas City "remember that guy" trivia.
But Ricky Stanzi is not your typical fifth round choice. The Iowa quarterback is actually the first QB prospect drafted by the Chiefs in five drafts, since their third round selection of Brodie Croyle in 2006. Some might shrug at any fifth round pick, but most of us realize the QB is always the most popular and every ESPN promo heading into the later rounds feature the quarterbacks who are left over at each stage of the draft. Everyone, it seems, wants to find that next Tom Brady or Tony Romo.
It's rare for a team to avoid a quarterback in the draft like the Chiefs have for half a decade. For the sake of comparison, the Patriots have selected two quarterbacks in that same span, while AFC West rivals like the Broncos have grabbed three. For Scott Pioli, the trade for Matt Cassel and the presence of Croyle was enough, and with so many other holes to fill, it was considered a luxury to draft a developmental QB prospect. In one sense, then, the Stanzi pick isn't just about the player, but also about the confidence Pioli has in the current players on the roster.
But what can fans expect from Stanzi as a pro prospect. The opinions, as you may very well know by now, are mixed. Statistically, Stanzi enjoyed a fine farewell season as a senior at Iowa. He passed for over 3,000 yards with 25 touchdowns and 6 interceptions with a 64% completion rate. He stands at 6-4, 230, so he has the right frame for the NFL level and 30 starts of experience over the last three seasons. While some point to a horrific performance in this year's Insight Bowl win over Missouri, he actually won all three Bowl games he started.
The National Football Post's Wes Bunting had Stanzi rated as the sixth best quarterback in the draft, above those selected higher like Andy Dalton and Colin Kaepernick. Bunting writes, "A nice-sized quarterback with good athleticism and a good enough arm to make all the throws. Matured as a senior, taking much better care of the football and doing a better job going through his progressions and reading defenses."
Meanwhile, Mocking the Draft's Jon Dove feels the opposite and summarizes his opinion on Stanzi by writing, "There are a lot of people out there that like Stanzi a lot but I am just not one of those people. There are things to like about his game but he is plagued with inconsistencies." Analysts love his toughness, experience and aforementioned success, but also question his decision making in critical situations and his footwork.
Yet perhaps it's about performing in the right scenario. Patrick Vint over at Black Heart Gold Pants, SB Nation's Iowa Hawkeye blog, gives a wonderful rundown of what scenario Ricky Stanzi can excel in:
Iowa's offense is built on the run, and Ricky built himself into the ideal quarterback for that system. He's a phenomenal play action quarterback, and is especially accurate when throwing off the bootleg or while rolling out. He improved markedly from his sophomore year to his junior year, and again from junior to senior seasons. He's a natural leader. If you're picking him as the final piece of your puzzle, as someone who can spend some time learning your offense and compliment a solid offensive line and competent running game, you'll like what you get. What he's not is a savior, mainly because he doesn't have the arm for it.
The bottom line is that the Chiefs only grabbed a quarterback when it made sense -- when the right player from the right system with the right pedigree came along at the right value. All of those planets aligned in the fifth round and Stanzi might just have the goods to make a dent in the pecking order of Chiefs quarterbacks.