Good news, Kansas City Chiefs fans. We're going to have plenty of NFL draft talk over the next few weeks. I went out to One Arrowhead Drive this morning and sat down with GM Scott Pioli for a good conversation on the NFL draft and digging into his approach to what will go down on April 28th.
I've got some really good stuff on how Pioli operates the football team and what goes into a GM's job during draft season. Does he make a mock draft? What's the draft room like? When is the draft board set? Those are the types of questions we're looking at. I'll be breaking our conversation into a bunch of different stories over the next week so consider this the official start of draft season around here.
Here are a few initial observations I walked away with but check back over the next few days for more on what he had to say.
What is the right 53? I bet Pioli didn't realize that, in his introductory press conference in January 2009, using the words the "right 53" would turn into arguably the most oft-repeated words by the fans in his tenure. I felt there was a misconception about exactly what that meant and he spent some time explaining it. It's mostly high-level, big picture stuff but I think you'd be interested in hearing him talk about this a little more. The short version is that those words mean a lot more than, for example, a guy not getting arrested, or not being a jerk.
His parents play an important role in how he operates. I'm not breaking any news here by saying that Pioli's approach to his job has been affected by how he was raised -- that's true with everyone -- but I bet he mentioned his Mom and Dad a half dozen times during our conversation. From how the Chiefs are run to how he scouts prospects to how players on his team behave stems from his folks. I don't know why but I found this really interesting. The short version is that they were both blue-collar type workers and there's certain level of respect and hard work that's necessary in people who work for and with him. I think understanding this will go a long way to helping us understand what kind of players he might be interested in.
There are no deal breakers. When it comes to the draft, there's no one thing that necessarily means a player can't or won't be drafted by the Chiefs. There are some character things that might come close to wiping a player from the draft board but usually things like that, or a slow 40 time, or a low Wonderlic score, just raise a flag. It means he needs to do more research. Sometimes that research confirms what he thought and sometimes it doesn't. He cautioned that just because Player X was, for example, arrested, doesn't necessarily mean he's a bad guy. It may not be an ideal situation but those flags just mean he needs to dig a little deeper.