It's something we've reiterated around here time and time again. It's the reason Clark Hunt said he wanted to model his franchise around the Pittsburgh Steelers. It's the reasoning behind Scott Pioli's hiring and to an extent Todd Haley's hiring (with a personnel background).
You draft well. You win.
Pretty simple, right? Well, the idea is simple. The implementation certainly is not.
Senior analyst Pat Kirwan of NFL.com recently penned an item titled "Smart teams find their starters in the draft." He takes a look at the teams that are the best at drafting starters for their squads...
...and those that are the worst...
Do you see the common theme here? With the exception of the Buffalo Bills (whose potential is arguable), all these teams are perceived with bright futures. The bottom five teams all have a LOT of work to do.
Side note: It's really a compliment to Mike Shanahan that the Broncos could have so many personnel problems yet continue to be contenders for the division title year in and year out. Did I say thanks to the Broncos for hiring Josh McDaniels yet?
After the jump we'll take a look at the Kansas City Chiefs and determine where they fall when it comes to drafting starters (Hint: It's better than average). What follows isn't meant to be a debate on the depth chart, instead an overall look at how well (or how bad) the Chiefs have drafted players who are or will be starters.
Drafted players in bold
3/3 - Defensive Line (Dorsey, Tyler, Jackson)
2/4 - Linebackers (Hali, Johnson, Thomas, Vrabel)
4/4 - Secondary (Page, Pollard, Carr, Flowers)
Maybe Monty Beisel gets the starting nod over at outside linebacker but remember he's still technically a member of a Chiefs draft class. Other than that, this defense is almost completely homegrown.
1/5 - Offensive Line (Albert, Waters, Niswanger, Goff, McIntosh)
1/1 - Tight End (Cottam)
1/2 - Wide Receivers (Bowe, Bradley)
1/2 - Running Backs (Johnson, Cox)
0/1 - Quarterback (Cassel)
If you want to use a technicality, players like Waters, Niswanger and Cox weren't drafted by the Chiefs but were still picked up as undrafted free agents and Kansas City has been the only team for which they've ever played.
Special Teams (2/2)
1/1 - Kicker (Succop)
1/1 - Punter (Colquitt)
Total Drafted Starters: 13/22
Full list of the Chiefs roster and how they were acquired.
Of the 22 starters likely to take the field in 2009, 13 of those will have been a Chiefs draft pick. Add in the potential of three more starters that were undrafted free agents hand-selected by the Chiefs front office, then you'll notice the team has done a commendable job in recent years drafting talent and turning them into starters. As Kirwan notes in his article, the average for a team is 11-12 starters drafted by the team. Using this as the benchmark, the Chiefs are actually above average at drafting starters.
This chart isn't meant to be an exercise in predicting the 53 man roster. In fact, some of the starters listed above wouldn't be starters on other teams (or won't be starters with the Chiefs shortly) but it's been said time and time again the best way to develop a team that is a contender every year is through the draft.
You'll notice the most successful team in the last decade isn't on this top five list. The New England Patriots have perfected the blending of drafted starters with free agent acquisitions. With Pioli's history I imagine the Chiefs won't ever be on the top five (nor the bottom five) of this list.
The Chiefs weren't always the best at drafting starters, but they certainly weren't the worst. I guess that's the hallmark of the previous regime.