The offseason is filled with lists and lists, ranks and ranks and all kinds of controversial debates about who's better than who at different positions. But this one is a doozy: some NFL executives would apparently prefer the Broncos' Mark Sanchez to the Chiefs' Alex Smith.
A group of ESPN reporters did a quick "AFC West Q&A" and asked the AFC West writers to rank the quarterbacks 1-4 in the division. Pretty easy, right? Philip Rivers at the top, pick between Derek Carr and Smith for No. 2 or No. 3 and then you take Sanchez last. (Some would argue there's no debate between Carr and Smith either.)
Not so fast. Broncos reporter Jeff Legwold took an "informal poll of seven personnel executives" and three took Sanchez over Smith! Um, why?
The biggest reason? Most think coach Gary Kubiak's offense will fit Sanchez and the Broncos are expected to run the ball well. Smith had always played low-risk football and limits interceptions, but the personnel executives want to see him make the throws he needs to make when the games are on the line.
No issue here with Kubiak's offense being quarterback friendly or with the assessment of Smith. He doesn't push the ball vertically, he is a "game manager" and there's a built-in ceiling with Smith.
But all of those things apply to Sanchez too. If Smith got Kubiak's offense he'd produce whatever efficient season Sanchez might, except it would be better.
Both guys are top-5 picks who didn't live up to expectations with their original teams -- despite a deep playoff run or two during their tenure -- and eventually moved on to a place where people weren't expecting quite as much. Smith, who made the Pro Bowl in 2013, delivered MUCH more in Kansas City the last three years than Sanchez did at any three-year point in his career, however.
Here's the numbers to prove it:
It's just not particularly close. Now granted, Sanchez was much younger (24-26) than Smith (29-31) in this comparison. But that should actually favor Sanchez.
You can't find three years of his career where he remotely stacks up in terms of production or efficiency against Smith's stretch under Andy Reid in KC. And this comparison doesn't factor in the 394 rushing yards Smith averages with the Chiefs -- Sanchez has 451 career rushing yards by comparison.
Maybe Smith isn't Aaron Rodgers, but he's done an excellent job stewarding the Chiefs offense.
Gambling on Sanchez is something John Elway had to do because the Texans offered Brock Osweiler the full piggy bank and he wasn't willing to match. If he could trade Sanchez for Smith right now, he'd pull trigger in a heartbeat.
Taking Sanchez over Smith is not something anyone should ever do by choice.