NEW YORK - The Kansas City Chiefs have the top pick in Thursday's National Football League Draft and a strong talent pool to consider, including blockers who could offer protection for new quarterback Alex Smith.
The Chiefs have said they have narrowed their choices to four candidates but refused to name them or reject the option of trading the top pick if the right offer comes along before Thursday night's annual allocation of college talent.
"What I have to do is what's best for the Kansas City Chiefs organization," Chiefs general manager John Dorsey said. "I'll explore every option available. You have all the way up to that last minute, so we'll see.
"You still have to give yourself some options. When that curtain is raised on Thursday, we'll be ready. But right now it's still ongoing, and you never know what's going to happen."
After matching Jacksonville at 2-14 for the NFL's worst record last season, the Chiefs hired former Philadelphia coach Andy Reid to guide the squad and named offensive left tackle Branden Albert as the club's "franchise player."
While ensuring Albert is among the NFL's top-paid players at his job, protecting the back of the quarterback for $9.83 million next season, the designation locks him to the Chiefs and he has said he wants to leave.
If the Chiefs can land a top lineman, they could afford to make a trade deal for Albert. And the draft offers two talented offensive tackles in Luke Joeckel of Texas A and M and Eric Fisher of Central Michigan.
Many NFL scouts see Joeckel as ready to step into the NFL immediately but Fisher might have the better long-term potential. With the Chiefs having given Miami permission to talk with Albert's agent, both blockers figure to be on Kansas City's list.
"They are both really fine football players," Dorsey said. "This year the offensive line position has some true prospects in it.
"Every draft has its unique characteristics. The unique characteristics are that there are offensive linemen in this draft, defensive linemen in this draft and corners."
Jacksonville will make the second selection and Oregon defensive end Dion Jordan, a talented pass rusher, is expected to be the choice for new Jaguars' coach Gus Bradley.
Oakland will have the third pick, followed in order by Philadelphia, Detroit, Cleveland, Arizona, Buffalo, the New York Jets and Tennessee.
Reigning Super Bowl champion Baltimore will have the 32nd and final pick in the first round in a system that tries to promote parity among NFL clubs by giving the most successful the last chances at grabbing new prospects.
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