Before the draft we were all curious how the Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli would attempt to fix the team's many deficiencies.
Pick 1: I went hoarse during my celebration that Pioli listened to me when I called him and told him he should pick #14 from Tennessee. Pick 2: But frankly, I sat in my Lazyboy with my jaw on the floor when McCluster was picked, "Whaaaaat? He's too small!" Then I saw tape on this kid and my jaw dropped again. Pick 3: Then what? A corner-back(Arenas)? Not surprised, but what about NT? Oh he returns kicks too...a twofer. Makes sense. Pick 4: Ahhh! O Line! I was pleased to see the Asamoah kid...solid G/C prospect. Pick 5: The TE I expected somewhere and as expected Moeaki's name was called. The Pioli/Ferentz connection. Then Pick 6: Predictably another Safety. I expected two to be chosen. And finally Pick 7: An OLB I'd never heard of before.
However, now as I look at all 7 of our picks, I've come to believe that Pioli and his scouts have worked wonders. While many pundits have not noticed this, at least two important ones did: Rick Gosselin and Clark Judge. Many AP readers are awaiting word from the 16 game jury, however, I prefer to put faith in the promise of improvement that I see in the 7 men that were chosen by the Chiefs on NFL Draft weekend.
The Chiefs will be better in 2010 because of this draft. Yes, I said it. I'm confident in that statement. And I'm fully aware that some may not agree. Here are my predictions as to which areas of the team stand to become greatly improved because of this year's draft class:
- Third Down Conversion--With the additions of Dexter McCluster and Tony Moeaki, Mr Pioli found the answer to the terrible 29.5% 1st down percentage rate of the Chiefs during the regular season in '09. Both players run crisp routes, have soft hands, have the ability to find an opening in the middle. McCluster has incredible quckness as well as the ability to run after the catch. Moeaki is the fastest TE of the '10 draft (4.5 40yd)and is quite athletic. He's not the reincarnation of Tony Gonzalez, but exactly what he will be remains to be seen. For Moeaki, the most important question is whether he will be on the field enough to make an impact. My guess is that with the addition of Coach Clark, Moeaki will be strong enough to withstand the abuse NFL TE's expect.
- Yards After Catch--(for Craig in Calgary) Dexter McCluster (AKA "OW" = Offensive Weapon)...any questions?
- Completion Percentage--Not that our FA acquisitions (Urban, Chambers, Jones) won't help the Chiefs this year(they certainly will), but having the additions of McCluster and Moeaki should spread our opponent's defenses enough that reception percentages increase with two more quality targets on the field.
- Fewer Sacks--While Jon Asamoah may not earn a starting spot this year on the OL, something tells me that his presence on the team will add enough competition there will translate to better pass blocking. I'm tempted to add a 4a here as well and say "better run blocking" too. Asamoah is great at blocking in the open spaces. In the last two years he had 187 knockdowns/key blocks and 24 blocks that led to touchdowns. I would not be surprised to see him starting by year's end.
- Offensive Yards per Game--See all of the above
- More Offensive Points per Game--See all of the above
- Increase in Positive Special Teams Yardage--Javier Arenas, McCluster, Eric Berry each have the ability to take it to the house anytime they get their hands on the ball. Each of them have returned punts and/or kicks before, but Arenas was ranked 4th in the nation at NCAA National Champion Alabama as a returner.
- Better Offensive Starting Field Position--See #7
- Better Coverage--See #7, #8. More speed and better open field tackling from our DB picks suggest that perhaps there will be better coverage on kickoffs and punts. I'll admit...I'm guessing on this one, but it could happen.
- Better Passing Defense--We all expect Berry to start at FS. Arenas is expected to be the top Nickel Corner on the Chiefs' roster. Kendrick Lewis will fight for a starting job with Page at FS. Even if he doesn't win the starting job from Page, he pushes Page to get better. Arenas and Berry have a number of sacks recorded on Blitzes. Who knows what Cameron Sheffield may contribute to the pass rush? We know so little about him that we're not sure how much of a project he is.
- Better Run Defense--I know, I know...but listen first...While another year of experience and the addition of depth at NT and OC Romeo Crennel make some believe that the Chiefs' run defense will improve somewhat inside the box, that's not what this post is about. I suggest that the addition of Berry, Arenas and probably part-time Lewis will provide better tackling in open spaces. I hope you agree that stopping at least some of the big runs perpetrated against our slow D last year was a priority to improve upon. I think this draft does that.
- Better Scoring Defense...Fewer Big Play TD's--See #10
- Better Turnover Margin--How many INT's will the DB's have this year? Who knows? But I think we can all agree with the likelihood we'll have more across the board with the increase in DB talent. Forced fumbles should increase as well with the hard hitting nature of Berry and Arenas. They like to strip the ball too.
- More Points per Game--See all of the above...but seriously, as far as scoring goes, while the Chiefs' 18.4 ppg avg in '09 sounds terrible, it ranked 23rd. It wasn't the NFL's worst. Pretty easy to improve there. Averaging just one more touchdown per game raises the Chiefs' rank to 8th in the NFL above the NY Giants. Adding a touchdown and a field goal per game ties the Chiefs with the Chargers at #4. All things considered...to win games you've got to have more points on your side of the scoreboard that the other team does. I think we'll have more points and they'll have less. Translation? Chiefs win more games than they lose in 2010.
- The Tangible Effect of Intangibles--We all agree that we added speed. Well the Raiders do that every year and what does it get them? Nothing. It is Pioli's/Haley's belief that if you get smart guys, leaders, great work ethic guys, you help your team. Well, 6 of the 7 draftees this year were captains on their team. That's leadership. Maybe it's not a theory to the Chief's Brass. This may be the draft class to test this theory for the rest of us though. By January 2011, we may all be converted believers.
Did I miss anything? Please add them in comments.
It won't take much change for the Chiefs to be better this year over last. They were pretty bad in a number of ways and on so many levels. Considering the versatility and quality of the Chiefs' 2010 draft class, I look for them to be much better. Take a look at this list if you don't believe me. Fifteen ways the Chiefs have improved with 7 new players.