So far we've talked about Scott Pioli's decision to hire Todd Haley as head coach, and his use of free agency in building the Chiefs roster. Now we're going to talk about how he's used draft picks in trades for the Kansas City Chiefs over the last three years, and how that's affected the team moving forward.
There are three trades that we are going to talk about and how they have proved to be instrumental in the direction of the team till this point, and one of these that will determine to which direction that we are headed. The three trades involve Matt Cassel/Mike Vrabel, Tony Moeaki, and Jonathan Baldwin/Justin Houston.
Two were draft-day trades and one was a pre-draft trade. One draft-day trade involved two picks for one player, the other involved one pick for two players. One of these moves laid a foundation for where we wanted the organization to head, and the other was to help get us there.
The trade with the New England Patriots that saw the Chiefs give up the No. 34 pick in the draft for Matt Cassel and Mike Vrabel has been the most important move that Scott Pioli has made since taking over the Chiefs. It stabilized the most important position on the field, quarterback, and brought us an outside linebacker for the new 3/4 defense that we were transitioning to that next season. We got two starters for one second-round draft pick and that itself is a great deal, not even to mention that it was the most important position on offense, and arguably the most important position on defense.
Whether or not you believe that Matt Cassel can lead us to a Superbowl or not is just one part of the equation when breaking down this trade. You have to look at the whole picture, and now two years later the trade looks as good as it did the first time it was reported. The next two quarterbacks that were drafted after the No. 34 pick were Pat White at No. 44 overall in the second round to the Miami Dolphins, and then Stephen McGee in the fourth round at No. 101 overall to the Dallas Cowboys. You cannot rebuild a team without having a stable situation at quarterback and this trade stabilized that position for us. Right or wrong, it allowed Pioli to build up a team around the quarterback.
The drafting of Tony Moeaki was telling for the Chiefs because it was the first time that we had seen Pioli make a big move to get a player he wanted in the draft by trading up. What we saw from Moeaki as a rookie helped fans realize what Pioli and Co. had seen from Moeaki coming out of Iowa. The Chiefs gave up their 4th (102) and 5th (144) round picks to select Moeaki in the 3rd (93) round. We have come to realize the importance that Pioli puts on each of his draft picks and the value that each of them provides, this also then tells us how much he coveted Moeaki before drafting him.
The Chiefs traded back in the first round in the 2011 draft and got the No. 27 pick and No. 90 pick from Cleveland for the No. 21 pick. The Chiefs turned those two picks into Jonathan Baldwin and Justin Houston. The success of these two players will be directly correlated with Scott Pioli and his decision to trade-back from the No. 21 position. It's always easier when you get two picks because you would hope that at least one of them would turn out to be pretty good and make you feel better about the trade. The Chiefs are hoping that Baldwin and Houston will both make a big impact in 2011 and if their pre-draft stock means anything at all, they will have big rookie seasons for the Chiefs.
There are a few honorable mention trades that didn't make the top three. They are in 2009 when Jake O'Connell got picked in the 7th round because the Chiefs traded for him by giving up their 2010 7th round pick. Tony Gonzalez being traded to the Atlanta Falcons for a second-round pick (50), and then the Chiefs used that pick on Javier Arenas. Then a sleeper pick of Alex Magee getting traded to the Buccaneers for a 5th round pick, the Chiefs also gave up their 6th round pick in this deal. The Chiefs since used that pick in the 5th round from the Bucs on QB Ricky Stanzi.
Scott Pioli has now shown about every hand he could play as a General Manager as he's moved up, and he's moved down in drafts . He's been successful in each of these aspects of building a team so far and hopefully his decision to move down and take Baldwin and Houston will turn out to be a great decision as well.