As the losses (and blowouts) mount in Kansas City, the pressure continues to build on many within the organization. Matt Cassel has born the brunt of these attacks. Clark Hunt and Romeo Crennel have also taken their share of abuse in the past few weeks. But possibly the biggest scapegoat in all of this has been Scott Pioli. Certainly I would agree that Pioli deserves his fair share of the blame. He's already swung and missed once in an attempt to hire a coach when he brought in and then subsequently fired Todd Haley. And from my vantage point, he appears to have whiffed a second time by hiring Romeo Crennel. So I'll just go ahead and say it: if you want to fire Scott Pioli because he has hired two unsuccessful coaches, that's fine. It's my personal opinion that he should be allowed one more shot (so this organization can at least maintain some sort of consistency), but I understand that most GM's don't get to hire three head coaches (and for good reason). So if you want to fire him based on that, I won't groan too loudly.
But I've also seen Pioli's talent acquisition history and draft record come under serious scrutiny during this tumultuous young season. And that my friends is something that I do not think I can get behind. So I'm here to do the dirty work and break down all four of Scott Pioli's drafts since he came to Kansas City. The nuts and bolts after the jump.
NOTE: This got exceedingly long, so I'm going to break these into separate posts for each draft.2009
1st round, 3rd pick - Tyson Jackson, DE, LSU
2009 Analysis: Off the cuff, I thought this was a reach. Jackson honestly hadn't even been in my head as an option at #3. At the time I wanted either Aaron Curry or BJ Raji. However, the more I thought about it, I understood the strategy. They were moving to the 3-4 scheme with zero players who fit the bill as a prototypical 3-4 end. Jackson looked to be the best of the bunch and he was by no means a bad prospect. More of a run stopper than a pass rusher, he looked like a good fit as a 5-technique in the new scheme. I wasn't a huge fan of the pick, but I understood the logic.
The here and now: Obviously most of us are aware of what Jackson has become. He's a stalwart in the run game, absorbing a ton of double teams and being disruptive when he's not doubled. Unfortunately he never developed really any pass rush ability, so he's mostly a two-down player. He's not the stud most would hope for with a top-5 pick, but as you can see by looking at the first round results from 2009, there weren't many of those out there.
Grade: C. A solid contributor who didn't quite reach his potential. Obviously they were hoping for more from a #3 overall selection, but he also didn't bottom out like he could have after his horrible rookie year.
3rd round, 3rd pick - Alex Magee, DT/DE, Purdue
2009 Analysis: I was not a fan of this pick. While Magee looked to be a decent value at this point in the draft, he was a poor fit schematically. More of a penetrator who looked to fit better in a 4-3 scheme, I was worried how he would fit in the new 3-4 defense the Chiefs were installing. Not only that, the Chiefs had just used a top-5 pick the previous year on Glenn Dorsey. In my opinion, it would have been best to see what, if anything, Dorsey could offer the team in the new scheme before doubling down on DE's with your first two picks, especially when there were so many other holes on this team.
The here and now: After basically playing the Allen Bailey role his rookie year (nickel pass rusher), Magee was traded a few games into his sophomore season. Glenn Dorsey had done an admirable job at the right end spot and it was apparent that Magee did not fit in the 2-gap scheme the team was running. He's currently in the Arena League.
Grade: D-. He was a poor fit for the scheme and he ended up without a spot anyways as Dorsey took to the 3-4 scheme better than most thought he would. The only thing that saves this from being an F is that he was a solid value at this point in the draft, so I can't completely Al Davis Pioli on this pick.
4th round, 2nd pick - Donald Washington, CB, Ohio State
2009 Analysis: A pick that I didn't really like, but couldn't completely bash because of the athletic potential. I didn't like the lack of production in college and he seemed like he might be a bit of a CB/S tweener, but he was an outstanding athlete who I thought might find a home somewhere in the secondary. Seemed like a very un-Pioli pick as he'd had some off-the-field troubles and wasn't exactly a leader on those Buckeye teams.
The here and now: Moved from CB to S after they realized he couldn't cover, he was then cut when they realized he couldn't tackle either. A good athlete with no football smarts and not enough god-given ability to get by.
Grade: D-. Another decent value at this point in the draft that just didn't work out. I wasn't a fan of the pick at the time and thought they would have been better off going with solid football player who didn't test well rather than big-time athletes with questions around their on-the-field play. Again, Pioli escapes the dreaded F because Washington was absolutely solid value in the 4th round of this draft.
5th round, 3rd pick - Colin Brown, OT, Missouri
2009 Analysis: I was shocked. I couldn't find him on any of the draft sites and there was still a fair amount of interesting names left on the board. Clearly there was help needed on the offensive line, but Brown didn't appear to be the guy to supply it. At 6'7'' and 325 lbs, he was an exceedingly large man. However he played in an odd offense at Missouri and looked to be quite the project.
The here and now: Never played a game for Kansas City, though he did catch on as a backup with the Bills. A real reach who would have probably been an UDFA if the Chiefs hadn't picked him.
Grade: F. I can't defend this pick at all. Horrible value and the guy never even made an active roster or played in a game for the Chiefs.
6th round, 2nd pick - Quinten Lawrence, WR, McNeese State
2009 Analysis: I actually liked this pick. Lawrence had displayed good speed in college and, at 6'1'', he had pretty decent size for that type of explosive WR. He had had some injury problems in college and had the occasional bout of the dropsies, but the potential was there for him to be a playmaking slot receiver or, if everything clicked, a Torrey Smith type of big play threat on the outside. Not bad upside for a 6th rounder.
The here and now: Obviously the above scenario never played out. Lawrence had trouble getting on the field and when he did, he didn't show much. It looked as though the college injuries had worn him down. The Chiefs eventually moved him to CB before releasing him in 2011.
Grade: C. You can't really get upset about a 6th round pick not panning out. I thought Lawrence had some nice potential, which is what you are looking for in late round picks. Unfortunately it just didn't work out for him. But still, the thought process in drafting him was sound in my opinion.
7th round, 3rd pick - Javarris Williams, RB, Tennessee State
2009 Analysis: I was okay with taking a RB at this point. Good backs can be found this late in the draft, Jamaal Charles hadn't yet broken out and even if he had, it was apparent that they were going to need to replace Larry Johnson soon. However, my man-crush Rashad Jennings was still on the board and I couldn't pick out anything discerning about Williams. He had a decent build, but wasn't overly powerful. He didn't have much "wiggle" to him and his speed was average at best. I just wasn't seeing an NFL runningback when I looked at him.
The here and now: After one season and six carries, Williams was jettisoned. Again, you can't get too up in arms about a 7th round pick, but at this point in the draft you should be looking for guys who can stick on a roster in some capacity. I didn't see that with Williams.
Grade: D. As a 7th round pick, there wasn't a ton expected of Williams. That's what keeps this from an F. He was a decent value at this point (read: he was a draftable player), but there were better players still on the board.
7th round, 28th pick - Jake O'Connell, TE, Miami (OH)
2009 Analysis: Another meh late round pick. There was nothing that really stood out about O'Connell. He didn't have great statistics even though he played at a smaller school and he wasn't overly athletic. About the best thing you could say about him was that he had a classic TE build (6'4'', 250 lbs).
The here and now: O'Connell has somehow managed to hang around on the active roster since he was drafted despite not playing much and not paying very well when he has. So that's saying something.
Grade: C-. I wasn't a huge fan of the pick, but any 7th rounder that sticks on a roster for at least a handful of years has to warrant at least a half decent grade.
7th round, 47th pick - Ryan Succop, K, South Carolina
2009 Analysis: This pick never should have happened, but probably not why you think. The Chiefs shouldn't have needed a kicker because they should have drafted Mason Crosby (if they were intent on taking a kicker) in 2007 instead of wasting 5th round pick on Justin Medlock. Still, Succop came with solid leg strength and appeared to have good accuracy when he wasn't battling nagging leg injuries.
The here and now: Say what you will about the guy, but he's probably a league average kicker at this point. He does a solid job on kickoffs, makes most of the ones he's supposed to and a few of the 50+ variety. The only complaint I would have with him is that he occasionally misses one that he really should make, but the guy is a solid kicker who has probably taken more of a beating here on AP than he deserves.
Grade: B. I know he's just a kicker, but to get a contributor out of the last pick in the draft is nothing to sneeze at. The guy has stuck on the roster and I don't really think he's in any danger of losing his spot unless something changes.
Overall Grade - D+
I know everyone wants to crucify Pioli for this draft, and believe me it wasn't good. He only walked out of Radio City Music Hall that year with a few possible starters, which isn't enough when you're trying to build a team from the ground up. Now granted, he traded away his 2nd round pick for a starting QB in Matt Cassel, but too many of the guys he took in this draft had zero chance to start in the NFL.
Still, take one look down the draft results for 2009. I'll save you the time, it's not pretty. There were tons of busts in the first round. And it's not like there were a bunch of guys taken in the 2nd through 7th rounds that evened that out some. Overall it was just a poor draft and Pioli did pretty much as bad as most. He was also still using the scouts from the Carl Peterson regime, and while I don't think that was as big a deal as some made it out to be, I have to think it made some kind of impact. For these reasons I have trouble completely dumping on the guy for this draft.
Still, he came out with a solid contributor on the defensive line in Tyson Jackson (who I expect to be renegotiated this coming offseason to keep him in KC). He also picked up a kicker who has stuck with the team and looks to be fairly well entrenched moving forward. It was the 6 picks between those two that killed him. Some of those I can understand the thinking behind and not fault him too much for (because there's only so much you can expect out of picks in rounds 4-7), but others I can't.
Next up: 2010
PS: I realize this first installment probably hasn't talked anyone off the ledge in regards to Pioli, but believe me the worst is behind us. Please stay with me through the rest of the series, then feel free to go ahead and pass judgement.