Say what you want about Pioli not addressing the Nose Tackle position over the last couple of seasons. Right or wrong Pioli has made a pretty strong statement that he is not going to take a Nose tackle he doesn't feel fits our system. Every year we get excited about various prospects and a certain guy has to be the pick and thus far Pioli has passed on every one (or in the case of Troup they've been snatched out from under us). Pioli has made it pretty clear that he is willing to wait for the guy who fits exactly what he is looking for.
In order to get an idea of what Pioli is looking for in his nose tackle lets start by looking at the different types of Nose Tackles in the game today. Of the many teams running variations of the 3-4 there are 2 general categories of Nose Tackle in use. The penetrator (ala. Ratliff in Wade Phillip's 3-4) is a smaller and quicker disruptive force on the line and gets into the backfield causing pressure. There is the true 3-4 2-gap nose tackle (ala. Vince Wilfork in New England) Wilfork may have described his responsibilities best when he said, "I don't get sacks. I don't get tackles for losses. A 2-yard gain, for me, I like that." This type of nose tackle is an immovable anchor, a big man who eats up blocks and frees up those around him to make plays.
So what are we looking for? Who fits the Chiefs system?
All indications are that the Chiefs are looking for a nose tackle of the Wilfork variety. We, for fairly obvious reasons, run a very similar system to the Patriots. We need a nose tackle of the Anchor variety and NOT a penetrator.
That brings us to the prospects available in this year’s draft. The top two Nose Tackles on most boards are Phil Taylor and Jerrell Powe. Many around Arrowhead Pride have jumped onto the Phil Taylor bandwagon as of late. Clearly we have a big need at nose tackle and therefore, considering the importance of the position, should grab the top rated prospect at the position if available right? The fact is it's not that simple, we also need someone who fits our system. Don't get me wrong Phil Taylor is great prospect and will likely have a successful NFL career... in the right system. Watching Taylor I see him as an ideal fit in a Phillip's 3-4... as a penetrating nose tackle.
Enter prospect number two. At the beginning of this season Powe was widely considered a first round pick and the best nose tackle prospect in the country. Powe was coming off an extraordinary 2009 campaign in which he was straight up beastly. For 2010 Powe's coaches asked him to slim down and try to play a different role, to be a penetrator. The experiment failed miserably and Powe's stock plummeted as a result. What's important to keep in mind though is that this poor season was very likely the result of Powe trying to be something he's not. He did what his coaches asked and never complained even when it clearly wasn't working. Powe is straight up dominant when he is asked to anchor and stop the run. Beef Powe back up and have him play to his strengths and he could well be a dominant player once again. He fits our system perfectly and (because of his coaches blunder) could be great value in the 2nd or 3rd. This would also free up our first round pick to address another area of need.
Many have also cited character and the "Right 53" as a reason to take one over the other. Taylor has some issues though I feel many critics have blown them out of proportion and he really seems to have worked to better himself. I do feel it’s worth noting, however, that Powe’s character appears to be rather exceptional. Here is a kid with a learning disability that went overlooked by a piss poor school system, but despite all the odds stacked against him never gave up. How easy would it have been for Powe to give up on football and school the first time he was rejected eligibility? The second? How many people would keep trying, keep busting their butt to get accepted and get a shot to play the game they love? That to me speaks volumes to Powe’s dedication to the game. Once you finally got in wouldn’t it be easiest to go the typical athlete route and take a general studies major, how many people would pursue a real degree program in Criminal Justice? How easy would it be to leave school early after an exceptional junior year, when you’ve struggled with academics your entire life? How many people would pass up that fat contract to stay in school and get their degree? I’ve never heard anyone question Powe’s football smarts or his dedication to the game. This is a kid who will do whatever it takes to be successful and has been a model teammate and leader. He never once complained about his coaches switching his position (and tanking his stock in the process) he just played and tried his best to do what is asked of him. That to me screams Pioli guy and is someone I would like to see in red and gold.
In the end the nose tackle choice for the Chiefs comes down to looking at who fits our system and what Romeo looks for. Taylor is much more of a penetrating nose tackle. He will most likely succeed and be a good player in this role. However that is not the role the Chiefs ask their nose tackle to fill. The Chiefs look for someone who can hold the point of attack and eat up blocks, Jerrell Powe is much better fit for our system, and will be available later at a greater value, freeing up our first round pick. This is the reason I’m not on the Taylor bandwagon. At the end of the day though, if when the draft roles around and we end up taking Taylor I won't be upset, we need an answer at the nose tackle position and I trust Pioli to find his man.