From the FanPosts. -Chris
The story goes that in Las Vegas back in the day (the day being the late 60's and 70's) that Las Vegas had a plethera of restaurants that served your basic three piece chicken dinner with veggie and potato for the handsome sum of $1.79. The most common betting amount in the game of blackjack then was $2. If you won your hand it was quite common for the dealer to say, "winner winner, chicken dinner" because you just won enough to eat.
What does this have to do with the NFL, football or our favorite team the Kansas City Chiefs? In a direct sense nothing but we DO own the 21st pick in the 2011 Draft so I thought it would be interesting to do a bit of research on Mr. Pioli's history with the 21st pick to see how he has fared over the years when he inherited the 'lucky' number 21 choice.
When I went back and looked, I realized that Pioli had been part of the personel departments of five different teams over the last 19 years. During that time the team he worked for actually had the 21st pick on three occaisions, all of which happen to have been while he was a Patriot. Then I thought that maybe it would be interesting to include picks that moved a maximum of five spots above or below that 21st spot. So eventually, I decided to include all picks from 16 to 26. That included an additional three players. Now the disclaimer is that all of these picks were for teams where Pioli was working at the time, BUT NOT NECESSARILY as the head Indian. In other words, he had input on these decisions but not the totality of authority to make it by himself. Most people believe that even in New England he did not have this power so to date, all of these choices were made with PIoli having influence but not being the single decision maker. It is really only to give an idea of who was chosen in these spots under Pioli's watchful eyes.
Pioli worked for the Browns as a Pro Personel Assistant from 1992 until 1995. This was during the tenure of his hero Bill Belechick. Unfortunately during that time, no picks made by the Browns were close enough to 21 to be included in our sample. It would have been very interesting if there had been something to include here. It's hard to compare the success of picks made in the very end of the second round and somewhere in the third round to those made in the first round. During the Browns years for PIoli, they never had a pick within 5 spots of that 21st slot.
Then when Art Model moved the Browns from Cleveland to Baltimore in 1996, Pioli went along, and got promoted to Pro Personel Coordinator. The Browns/Ravens years are also when Pioli met and became friends with Kirk Ferentz. Will Ricky Stanzi find his way onto our roster like Tony Moeaki did? We report you decide--but I digress. In the '96 draft the Ravens had the 26th overall spot and chose a player that I think most of you will recognize. That was the year that Ray-Ray was drafted. Ray Lewis, LB out of Miami. Not a bad choice. I know, Pioli was just there, he didn't actually do anything but still a nice choice none the less.
In 1997, Pioli once again followed his mentor Belechick to the New York Jets. Hoodie had gone to New England in '96 and got caught up in a Parcells storm and wound up in Jets green in 1997. This is where Pioli gets to work with Parcells. This boys and girls is where the spam hit the fan. Associations that were made during this tenure are still shaping the NFL landscape today. During Pioli's time in New York (1997-2000) he was the man. His title was Director of Pro Personel. Only once during this time was there a draft choice that fit my parameters. In the 2000 draft the Jets chose (Hanging) Chad Pennington at number 18 over all. Now, you can poo-poo this draft choice if you wish, but Pennington is at least an average NFL QB. Interesting side note here is that in 2004 (long after Pioli had departed for NE), the Jets signed Pennington to a 7 year, 64.2 million dollar contract. This is interesting because so many condemn the Chiefs for signing Cassel to a 6 year, 60 million dollar contract in 2009--FIVE years later! Cassel was cheap!! Digressions are getting the better of me today. Anyway, Draft pick #2 for Pioli was Pennington.
All right! Now we move on to the Patriots. The last four players in our group were all drafted as Patriots. Three out of four of them were actually drafted in the 21st spot. Since that is the case, I will skip ahead a few years and get the one that was not a 21st spot choice out of the way first. Here is his picture.
Brandon Meriweather. Brandon was chosen as the number 26 choice of the Patriots in the '07 draft. Brandon has played Strong Safety and most recently Free Safety for the Pats and became a full time starter in his second season. Once again, not a bad choice for Mr. Pioli who at this time held the title of Vice President of Player Personel.
Ok, those were the ones that were close to the 21st spot, how about the actual 21st choices? Here we go.
The first happened in 2002. This also happens to be Pioli's third year in New England and that may or may not have anything at all to do with Pioli's third year in Kansas City. If Scott builds teams in the same order it could give us some indication of where he could be going with this years draft but there are so many variable it is hard to feel certain about anything this year, especially with the lockout and all the player/owner problems going on. The 2002 21st pick was
Daniel Graham. Daniel, as I am sure many of you know now plays for the Broncos but he had a very special tenure in New England. In 2003, he started nine games and recorded 38 catches for 409 yards and four touchdowns. By 2004, Graham was fully integrated into the Patriots' system. He had 30 receptions for 364 yards and seven touchdowns. In both seasons he was an integral part of a Super Bowl champion offense. Good Pick? I would take it, but you make your own call.
Then in 2004, Pioli struck defensive paydirt. Here was a Superbowl winning team that still managed to get a pick at #21 and they didn't waste it. The 2004 number 21 pick was none other than
Vince Wilfork. Once again, Pioli seems to have the goods on the right guys. I have seen many here that would give a testicle for a Wilfork type player. Pioli seems to continue to be involved in some pretty decent player personel choices. You'd think that is what he does for a living or something!? Don't hurt yourself laughing at that lousy attempt at humor. Save your laughs for Ups posts (sorry, I once again digress).
Finally, we come to the last time that Pioli has had the 21st pick and it was a mere five years ago. Pioli was looking for a spark to reignite a failing running game and he found what he was looking for in
Laurence Maroney. Maroney has had his ups and downs but I can tell you that when he first got on the field he looked like the real deal up and down, side to side and all the way down to the ground. He has struggled with injury since that time and his value in the NFL is yet to be determined. There have been others that have shown this kind of promise and never delivered and then there have been those who have gotten a second chance and done the most with it. It wouldn't surprise me if Laurence was the latter and not the former.
So there it is. The history of Pioli and the 21st (or there abouts :>)) draft picks. If history is any guide, Pioli will not waste his picks. Interestingly, out of six picks at or close to 21st spot, Pioli didn't double up on one position once. What does that tell us about his drafting prowess? I would say that Pioli's first round choices have been made for what he considered to be the most needy position. What does he think that is for this years Chiefs? I wish I knew. The good thing is that we don't have much longer to wait to find out. The bad thing is that none of these picks were for offensive line or wide receivers. Those would be MY choices this year. Does Pioli agree? I will have to wait and see just like everybody else.
Hope you all had a great Easter. Say a prayer that the work stoppage does not damage the NFL for years to come. Now, I have to go see if I can make a ham sandwich out of some leftovers...