Getting into Pioli's mind is extremely difficult. All we have to judge how he thinks is draft history and a few quotes. But, based on those two tools we can somewhat guage Pioli's philosophy. What does the map in Pioli's mind look like? How does he come to his conclusions? After the jump lets apply the two aforementioned tools to predict what Pioli will do with the 5th pick of the draft.
Based on history we know that Pioli values defensive lineman more than any other position with of course the exception of QB. He spent 3 first round picks on defensive lineman in New England and his first pick as a Chief was Tyson Jackson. So, the argument that we have too much money tied up in the defensive line is moot. We also know that Pioli favors positional value more than a BPA approach when drafting high. The Tyson Jackson reach was evident of this fact. Clearly, the Chiefs biggest need is a NT. Last year it was a 3-4 DE after the Cassel trade. So it would only stand to reason that the only thing preventing Pioli pulling the trigger on a NT at 5 is if the kind of player that he likes isn't on the board, regardless of that players ranking on the board. Lets look at some Pioli quotes to see what he likes in a NT:
The thing with a player like that is you know how he can work in a small space but what you want to see is his lateral mobility and how much ground he can cover from that spot. Because obviously you want someone in that spot who can hunker down.
Vince, personally, [I think] was a little more explosive coming out," he said. "The body types, and the movements...the one thing I saw about Vince was he had more lateral range. Body types like that, the easy thing to do is say he looks like him, but Vince had very long arms for a guy his height, which is important for a guy on the inside of the defensive line
A few things we can take away from these quotes in terms of what he looks for in a NT: lateral mobility, explosive, Wilfork body type with long arms. Lets take a look at the number one rated NT prospect, Dan Williams, and what he brings to the table.
Pursuit/Lateral Movement/Agility: Perhaps the most surprising part of his game. Chases well sideline to sideline, makes a lot of tackles outside the box.
Not necessarily quick in to the backfield but he has the powerful explosion that will show up on occasion.
Size/Length/Hand Size: Has the ideal lower half for a defensive tackle. Huge rear with thick legs gives him the power to hold ground against double teams and get a push against a single blocker. Carries his 320+ pounds comfortably. Has longer arms than a normal 6’3 player has and he knows how to use them to keep blockers at bay.
It seems that Williams fits all 3 criteria, however, his explosion is an inconsistent part of his game. Lets compare Wilfork's last year of college production and measurables to Williams:
Height Weight 40 time Tackles TFL QB Hurries
Wilfork 6'2" 323 5.08 50 9 20
Williams 6'2"7/8 327 5.10 70 9 9
It would seem as if Wilfork and Williams are similar players coming out. However, Wilfork was a much more consistent lineman having good production for two seasons, whereas Williams was a late bloomer and really only dominated his Senior year. Also, Wilfork was more explosive coming out of Miami than Williams.
Williams isn't Wilfork, but is the closest thing in the draft to him. Also, Williams is a confusing case when it comes to intangibles. People have questioned his work ethic in the past. But, he has seem to matured his Senior season. He got a top physical shape and became a leader for a young Tennessee defensive line. If Williams interviews well with Pioli and Crennel believes he can keep the kid motivated it wouldn't suprise me one bit that he is the pick at number 5.
The 2nd tier NTs that fit Pioli's profile are Linval Joseph and Terrell Troup. Joseph had about the same production as Williams, but played in the weak conference USA. Troup didn't have nearly the production of those two and also played in conference USA. In my opinion Cam Thomas and Terrence Cody are not on Pioli's radar because they don't have the lateral movement capability that he likes. Also, based on Pioli's preference for positional value within the top 5, I find it highly unlikely that he will select an ILB or S considering those are the two least important positions on the defense. Meaning, the only other possibility is an amazing player with positional value with not that big of a need (Suh) or an offensive tackle (Okung/Bulaga). Anyway thats my two cents, what is your opinion? Is this how Pioli thinks or am I way off track?