One of the things I like about Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli is that he doesn't over-emphasize the importance of the NFL Combine. What I mean is that he seems to place a higher value on several years of game tape versus how fast someone can run in shorts.
"Like I said," Pioli told season ticket holders on the Chiefs Fan Forum last night, "the measurables are important, but at the end of the day, we’re not drafting players or signing players to get them in shorts and tennis shoes and run around on Arrowhead’s field and show us how high they can vertical jump."
Indeed that's the case. Vernon Gholston comes to mind when talking about NFL Combine risers.
Like the Combine being just another piece to the puzzle, Pioli says the maturity level of a player is considered as well.
"One of the things that we’ve tried to stay focused on and that I’m a firm believer in is the maturity level of players," he said. "Players that are more mature are going to be fewer problems for the club. It’s a lot easier to develop and deal with mature players. I prefer mature players."
Pioli was speaking in reference to a question about drafting underclassmen, which he didn't rule out. There is sometimes a stigma attached to underclassmen that they're not mature enough to handle the NFL.
Like the Combine, he doesn't get caught up in labels and numbers as the end all be all. What matters, he says, is how they fit into the puzzle.
While the pre-draft interview process has become a "cat-and-mouse game" because of the players' preparedness from their agents, he doesn't downplay the importance of character in making a decision of how a player fits into the Chiefs plans.
This is even more true, in my opinion, after the Larry Johnson situation over the last four months.