The Kansas City Chiefs backup quarterback competition this season has proven to be more complicated than in years past.
The last three seasons, the Chiefs were comfortable with their quarterback nucleus, knowing that if Alex Smith were to go down, they would be able to replace him with proven veteran Chase Daniel. Daniel departed for the Philadelphia Eagles in March. Now the Chiefs have three players vying for the backup quarterback job, all of which have yet to take a regular season snap.
Kansas City Chiefs Backup Quarterback Competition
Despite the criticism Smith takes for playing too conservatively, it would be a huge blow to the team if he got hurt for an extended period of time. With high expectations for the Chiefs in 2016, the collective inexperience of Tyler Bray, Aaron Murray and Kevin Hogan raises concern about the team’s ability to compete in the case of an injury to Smith.
Hogan was selected by the Chiefs in the fifth round of the NFL Draft this year. He was very productive in college and has proven he can win games, going 36-10 in his four years at Stanford University. He set the school record for total offense by a single player. Accurate, athletic, and possessing a high football IQ, Hogan should also learn Andy Reid’s West Coast offense fairly quickly. Stanford ran a pro-style system while he was there. The Chiefs would be foolish to let him go before watching him develop. He could possibly even develop into Smith’s long-term replacement. With that said, Hogan is at least a year out before he can compete for backup duties. If he were to be suddenly thrust into the starting position, he would likely struggle.
Then there’s Murray, who was selected in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft. He holds the Southeastern Conference record for most career passing yards and touchdowns. Though he was sidelined due to an ACL tear near the end of his senior season at the University of Georgia, Murray has been solid as the Chiefs third-string quarterback the past two years. In the 2015 preseason, he completed 26 of 32 passes for 232 yards and three touchdowns. This was good enough for a 105.3 quarterback rating. At 6-foot-1 and 207 pounds, he is a little undersized, however.
The Chiefs appear to be most confident in Bray. He opened the off-season as the Chiefs backup quarterback and remains so heading into training camp. He was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Chiefs in 2013 out of the University of Tennessee. Bray has a strong arm and more upside than either Murray or Hogan. He still has much to prove given that he was sidelined the majority of the last two seasons due to injury, namely a sprained ankle in 2014 and a torn ACL last season.
Ultimately, the Chiefs will likely keep Hogan and watch Murray and Bray battle it out in the preseason. Whoever loses will be released, and the other will get the opportunity to learn from Smith. Of course, it may be difficult to let go a fifth-round pick in Murray in just his third season, so it could be as late as September until the Chiefs come to a decision.