Chiefs GM Scott Pioli's Seven Draft Day Criteria

From the FanPosts. Bumped up the time to now. -Chris


Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli (via

It seems to me that many of us on AP have not picked up on our Genius GM's draft philosophy.

Arguments abound in our posts and comments as to why we would like this player or that player at a certain pick, mostly having to do with our first three picks. Many of our arguments would be moot if we would simply remind ourselves of Pioli's draft philosophy.

I think we are kidding ourselves though if we think, with our thousands of different opinions and beliefs, that we can ever agree on who the pick might be and actually get it right very often. After all, Pioli, the coaches and the scouts argue all the time about which players will be better for the team before they finally come to settle on which names go where on their draft board. 

From a Pre-Draft Q & A session with Kansas City Chiefs GM Pioli and Coach Haley on April 16, 2009, I have concluded that Mr. Pioli uses seven key criteria when choosing his draft picks

Understand that some of Pioli's answers may be a bit cloudy, as we know he is very secretive about his future picks and doesn't want to let any cats out of his bag. However, "The Don" (I use that term affectionately) Pioli clearly reveals his philosophy of who will be his choice at a given spot in the draft.

Enjoy...(Interview content via the Mothership)

1. Pioli will draft players who are intelligent, have a strong work ethic and have healthy work habits. In other words, they are players who live, eat, breathe, sleep, and die football 24-7.

One question in the interview dealt with how prepared they felt for the '09 draft and part of Pioli's answer I think is helpful in terms of understanding his initial thought process. He said that initially it's important to understand who Todd Haley is as head coach and the kind of players that fit his coaching style. Understanding...

What type of players (Coach Haley) needs and wants means having a lot of common values not only in performance but in makeup, because the most important part is the intelligence, work ethic and work habits (of the player).

2. Pioli will draft players who fit subjectively within "the right 53" mold. 

"Do you still stand by your statement that the right 53 players doesn't necessarily mean the most athletic 53 players?" To this Pioli responded:

The best 53 players don’t necessarily mean the most skilled, the most athletic or the most talented. I think it is something we are trying to address this off-season in terms of veteran players that we brought in who are proven winners, guys that we know have a certain work ethic and a certain makeup. When we make decisions on players, whether it is in the draft, free-agency or trades, however we acquire players, we want to get the right players that fit Todd’s leadership style and our collective belief in work ethic and the overall makeup of the players. 

3. Pioli will draft players who meet the criteria: a) they have the ability to perform at a high level and b) they play a position of deepest need on the team.

"Do you draft players based upon ability or team need?" To which Pioli responded:

I have always felt that it is a combination of those two things. Some teams do things based purely on need, other teams do it based on what they think is the best player available. I think it is a combination of those two things. You have to take into account who’s the best player available and also what your needs are. I’ll go back to a situation years ago: on our roster we had a certain position that we had a large number of players and we kept passing a player up that we felt was the best player available. We also felt we had a strong number of players at that particular position but there comes a point in time where you have to mesh those two things together and do a combination of best player and needs.

4. Sometimes Pioli picks a player who has great ability or presents a great value to the team even if he is not in a position of greatest need.

Does Pioli select on need or BPA (depending upon) if he picks early or late?

It’s weighted differently at whatever point in time you’re making a pick. You have to take into account what your needs are on the team but you can’t ignore...a certain player who’s a tremendous value or has tremendous ability. So, whether it’s the third pick or the 23rd pick or the 33rd pick you need to take both things into account.

5. Players who score high in the "intangibles" trump guys who simply score well in combine events or at their pro days.

On the question of how valuable the "intangibles" are when making his selection...

That’s why we don’t allow the scouts to call them intangibles because things like leadership, things like toughness, things that are referred to as intangibles are very, very tangible elements of who the player is and who the person is. These guys are not robots and not just height, weight, speed.

6. Pioli always keeps an open mind when offers to trade picks arise, but he doesn't jump at every opportunity just because it presents itself. He listens to trade offers only if it provides him the opportunity to grab a specific player that he wants, but wouldn't be able to pick otherwise. He exercises patience when offers arise.

How willing is Pioli to trade a pick?

Tell me, who’s on the board? I don’t know who is or who’s not. I don’t know who wants someone (and would) make an offer. Here’s what I know: when it’s our turn to pick, whenever that is, we’re going to know who we’re picking and we’re going to be ready. If there is an opportunity to make a trade we’ll listen. That’s an important thing. You have to take your time, be patient, not be reactive (but) think things through. (You don't think about what's) the best decision at that second, but long-term...Teams don’t necessarily just trade picks. They trade picks to get to players. That’s what I think is missed sometimes. Trades are made so teams can get to specific players.

7. Pioli doesn't put all his apples in his Draft basket. He knows that good players become available to him through various means.

On drafting good pass rushers in later rounds or finding them in FA:

We’re trying not to marry ourselves to one specific way. If you commit yourself mentally to not knowing all the vehicles and all the potential opportunities you may be missing something. You never know what the opportunities might be, what free agency might be from year to year. You never know who’s going to be cut and put out on the street. You might have an opportunity there. There’s opportunity everywhere.

How does this venture into the mind of an NFL Draft genius help you as you think about who the Chiefs might select on NFL Draft Weekend?

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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