Asked if he could definitively say Kansas City will not choose a passer with its first draft pick, Edwards paused for a moment and shook his head.
“No,” he says finally. “You’ll never say that. You can’t.”
Part of that is because the Chiefs, like all NFL teams, are playing poker — and revealing their intentions would be showing their hand. But the team just is not sold yet that Croyle is the long-term answer at its most visible position.
“I don’t think you could make a rational argument that he’s better than the bottom third of the league,” says Randy Cross, an NFL analyst who called a late-season Chiefs game for CBS. “He’s got some of the intangibles. But you can’t do it on potential. He’s not capable of carrying a team, but I don’t think there are many of those guys.”
And, says another CBS analyst with Kansas City experience, there is little time for Croyle to prove himself.
“He has a year,” says Rich Gannon, Chiefs quarterback from 1995 to 1998. “If they’re still not winning, you have to go get somebody else who will win.”
This season will be critical for Croyle. The Chiefs think enough of him that they likely will resist the temptation of drafting a quarterback in the first round. They likely will draft one in the later rounds, proof they don’t think so much of Croyle that they do not want insurance.
Until draft weekend, when the Chiefs show how they really feel about Croyle, the young quarterback will continue to be around. He will keep getting up early, hunting and heading to the stadium. He will show he is committed to the Chiefs — even if the Chiefs cannot say they are committed to him.
“He needs to have a fresh start,” Edwards says. “It’s up to him and us to be successful. He’s going to get an opportunity, and that’s all he wants. He wants to prove to himself he can be an NFL quarterback and win in this league. At the end of the day, he’s got to perform.
“He went through tough times last year playing. He didn’t anticipate that. He didn’t at all. He’s going to find out a lot about himself now.”