While following the Chiefs may drive some to distraction it for sure drives others to drink. Let us reflect on the Pioli era to date and dare forecast what this off season may bring. Will we see agressive, "Boom or Bust" aquisitions or will Pioli and braintrust again stay within their "Comfort Zone".
What do we know from Scott Pioli moves so far? When push comes to shove we have seen Pioli stay within his comfort zone. Yeah, he will make a move. Yeah, he will pull a trigger. Yeah, he will act decisively to improve the Chiefs when the low risk opportunity is there. But overall the guy prefers to stay with the known quantities. Pioli will prefer a proven, seasoned pro over a shot-in-the dark rookie. Pioli will choose a player from a winning program over a stud player who has grown up while bullying 7th graders for their lunch money.
We all know the Chiefs have an Offensive line that has regressed. The lack of consistent punch and lack of sustained scoring drives this year was noticeable. Whatever QB was in there was unable to direct the team while laying on his back or running for his life. Our RB’s either could not run around or run through the brick walls they found in their path. Pioli and Romeo may be patient men but the clock is ticking. Romeo has been in a developmental program long enough. Pioli knows the time is near that he is expected to start producing. He has pretty much said, Hey Boss! I got this Under Control. It’s all Good Boss! My Plan is Working!
While the perception is that Defense wins Championships, the reality is that you need a premier QB and a dynamic Offense as well. Romeo and Pioli are learning (I hope). The Brain Trust will see that a big improvment at QB is not likely available at an accepable cost this year and will do the next best thing in FA andn that will be to shore up the O-Line. It's easy and comfortable. Been there. Done that. Next will be to seek out some proven winners in the draft. But how?
We can expect to see some moves in FA to respond to our O-Line woes. This is no time for the "Brain Trust" to be laid back and passive.
Some of Pioli’s first moves were to bring in Wiegmann and Lilja. We can expect a repeat of similar moves. I expect Pioli will be very comfortable in pulling the trigger to upgrade our O-Line at Offensive Right Tackle with a purpose toward improving Pass Protection and at Offensive Guard to add a little beef in the middle to line up next to Hudson as he takes over that Center spot. We won’t see a drastic shift in the current ZBS mentality but just a little more heft to guard against a push up the middle and to protect the edge (and QBs well being).
The Comfort Zone in the Draft for Pioli will be to move back. Yes, we need a bright shiny QB but it ain’t gonna happen this year. Luck and RGlll will be gone, our needs on the O-Line will have been addressed by FA. So….. the "comfortable" thing to do will be a "trade back". Another "comfort level" aspect will be to draft winners from proven, "Big-Time" programs. Here is what might happen. (Que the Dream Sequence Music)
2012 DRAFT FOR THE K. C. CHIEFS
1st round – Trade Back and pick one of following: Desired QBs are gone. O-Line needs are addressed. We trade our #1, #4, #5 and one of our #7s for a #1, #2 and another #3. Our Pick is either:
RB Trent Richardson (Alabama, 5"11", 224 lbs, 4.52 dash) Needed to compliment Charles and absorb at least half our carries while providing big play potential and ability to gain tough yards.
DE/LB Courtney Upshaw (Alabama, 6’2", 265 lbs, 4.76 dash) He offers another edge rusher for either SOLB or DE in certain packages or ILB to provide a bigger, badder option than Belcher and can give Hali a deserved rest from time to time.
CB Dre Kirkpatrick (Alabama, 6’2". 192 lbs, 4.49 dash) He offers more potential than current CBs, needed depth and protection in case we lose either Brandon. Skilled in all phases plus tall enough to handle the bigger WRs we are seeing now.
2nd round – 2a and 2b:
ILB Don’t’a Hightower (Alabama, 6’4", 260 lbs, 4.78 dash) He offers more help for the middle of our base 3-4 defense.
SS Mark Barron (Alabama, 6’2", 218 lbs, 4.56 dash) He may not have the ideal skills to man up on a TE but he is a ball hawk and could easily play a solid SS or FS as the deep cover protection and ruthless run support.
3rd round – 3a and 3b:
NT Josh Chapman (Alabama, 6’1", 310 lbs, 5.02 dash) Run defense: Clearly his best trait. Has a short, stumpy build so he typically wins the leverage battle. When he does so, Chapman can be tough to move, even showing the ability to handle double-teams. Excellent weight room strength translates well onto the field. Good stack and shed defender.
FS Robert Lester (Alabama, 6’2", 210 lbs, 4.56 dash) May be better than Barron at manning up on a TE or covering a slot as a 3rd safety. Adds needed quality depth to secondary. With Lester, Berry could play CB if we lost either Brandon at CB.
4th round – Traded.
5th round – Traded.
WR Marquis Maze (Alabama, 5’8", 184 lbs, 4.49 dash) More speed and more big play ability on offense and special teams.
7th round – Traded 7a kept 7b. C William Vlachos (Alabama, 6’1", 295 lbs, 5.25 dash) Run blocking: Quick enough to turn and seal off defenders, creating a hole at the point of attack. Average strength for drive blocking, too often getting stood up. At his best blocking laterally, sliding left or right in tandem with his guards. Has only phone booth quickness. May prove to be a reliable back up center.
This group of players would reflect Pioli's comfort level with proven winners. It would give him quality players at many positions of need as well as depth and insurance in case of lose to free agency or injury. The new rookies should also be comfortable and maybe even already know the likes of Gillberry, Arenas and McClain. We may be in a position some day when half our starting team would be from a championship team of high caliber or at least know the Crimson Tide Fight Song.