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Archive for Wednesday, April 24, 1991

PRECEDENT STANDS AGAINST KC PICK

April 24, 1991

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So the Chiefs have made a running back their No. 1 selection in the National Football League draft.

Uh, oh.

Historically, the Chiefs' wisdom in choosing ball-carriers in the first round has been more or less on a par with Henry VIII picking brides. Sooner or later, they failed to measure up and the axe fell.

Just four years ago, the Chiefs went for Paul Palmer, a touted ball-toter out of Temple who had finished runnerup to Miami quarterback Vinny Testaverde in the Heisman Trophy balloting.

Palmer quickly showed the KC coaching staff that he wasn't much more than a high-priced kick returner, and not a particularly dangerous one at that.

WORSE, HE couldn't shake a bad-attitude rap and became a vagabond, playing for the Cowboys, Lions and Bengals. Currently he's the second-leading rusher in the WLAF, which is something like being the second best chess player in Greenland.

Before Palmer only two years before, in fact Kansas City pulled one of the all-time rocks in the history of draftdom by making Ethan Horton of North Carolina its No. 1 pick.

Horton was OK if you didn't want a running back who could turn the corner or one who could go up the middle. Those were traits the Chiefs desired, however, so Horton was released and eventually hooked on with the L.A. Raiders as a tight end.

Eleven years before the Horton mistake, KC management made Woody Green, a running back out of Arizona State, its No. 1 draft selection. Green led the club in rushing as a rookie in 1974 and again in '75, but with a scanty 509 and 611 yards respectively.

Green also had some scrapes with the law back in his native Oregon, and knee problems limited him to only three seasons with the Chiefs.

IN 1972, the Chiefs used their No. 1 choice on Jeff Kinney, supposedly the best thing to come out of McCook, Neb., since Gene Budig. Kinney was indeed a terrific I-back at Nebraska, but the NFL isn't the Big Eight, and Kinney lacked the physical skills to become a professional star.

The Chiefs did take a highly skilled back with their first pick in 1965, but those were the days of the NFL-AFL wars, and Gale Sayers rejected Lamar Hunt's green and opted for the more established Chicago Bears instead.

There you have them. Jeff Kinney, Woody Green, Ethan Horton and Paul Palmer. Not exactly the Four Horsemen, are they? Not a one ever played in a Pro Bowl.

Does Harvey Williams, the fleet 6-2, 216-pound running back from LSU, possess the wherewithal to put an end to this mediocrity? Only time will tell, of course, but I see some red flags.

Williams' rushing numbers 2,160 yards in three years don't bowl me over, and it's hard to dismiss those wife-beating and speeding charges filed against him in Baton Rouge.

STRANGELY, IN the second round, the Chiefs have displayed an uncanny knack for quality running backs. Kansas City has also selected four ball-carriers in Round Two over the years and every one was a gem.

First was Ed Podolak in 1969. Podolak is still the Chiefs' all-time leading rusher and a member of the club's Hall of Fame. Next was Tony Reed in 1977. Reed, who gained 1,053 yards in 1978, still ranks ninth on the Chiefs' career rushing chart.

Joe Delaney, KC's No. 2 in 1981, was named to the Pro Bowl after gaining 1,121 yards in 1981. Likewise Christian Okoye. A second-rounder in '87, Okoye led the NFL in rushing in 1989 with a team-record 1,480 yards.

All in all, I must say if the Chiefs had taken Williams in the second round, I'd have felt a whole lot better.

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