FanPost

Being Scott Pioli: How the Chiefs Evaluate Draft Prospects

From the FanPosts. This is an awesome post. Great work. -Joel

For many football fans, free agency and the NFL draft are just as much fun as the games themselves.

With all the talk about free agents and news on prospects from the NFL Combine, I thought I'd re-post some quotes from Michael Holley's book "War Room" that give some insight into the way Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick evaluated players in New England and covers Pioli's first few drafts here in Kansas City.

Special thanks to brahmabull43, who made the original post back in November.

Preface: Starting with a bare cupboard on offense

In January 2009 when Pioli was hired in Kansas City. This was the Kansas City Chiefs offense:

Quarterbacks
  • 12 Brodie Croyle
  • 8 Quinn Gray
  • 4 Tyler Thigpen

Running Backs

  • 26 Jackie Battle
  • 25 Jamaal Charles
  • 42 Mike Cox FB
  • 27 Larry Johnson

Wide Receivers

  • 82 Dwayne Bowe
  • 83 Mark Bradley
  • 89 Devard Darling
  • 85 Will Franklin
  • 14 Kevin Robinson KR/PR
  • 80 Jeff Webb

Tight Ends

  • 87 Brad Cottam
  • 88 Tony Gonzalez
  • 45 Michael Merritt
Offensive Linemen
  • 76 Branden Albert LT
  • 71 Andrew Carnahan T
  • 73 Adrian Jones G
  • 77 Damion McIntosh T
  • 64 Rudy Niswanger C
  • 67 Barry Richardson T
  • 74 Wade Smith G/C
  • 75 Herb Taylor T
  • 65 Tavares Washington G/T
  • 54 Brian Waters G

Bold indicates players who remain on the Chiefs roster (expected franchise tag for Bowe)

Italics indicates players who were 2008 rookies

Strikethroughs indicate players no longer in the NFL

Plain text indicates players who finished the 2011-2012 season on any NFL roster

Part 1: Do As I Say, Not As I Do: "War Room" Quotes vs. Reality

Let's take look at some quotes from the book "War Room" and compare them to Pioli's actual track record. (Note: These first set of quotes are from Belichick but they help put the overall philosophy into place.)

1st Round Strategy: No Busts Allowed

"In the first round you want guys with the fewest questions."

Five Year Sample:

  1. 2011: Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
  2. 2010: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee (Pro Bowler)
  3. 2009: Tyson Jackson, DE (3-4), LSU
  4. 2008: Jerod Mayo, ILB, Tennessee (Pro Bowler)
  5. 2007: Brandon Meriweather, S, Miami (Pro Bowler)

Notes:

Three Pro Bowlers out of five, not too shabby. That said, looking at this list there are certainly plenty of questions. Baldwin and Meriweather both had character concerns coming out of college, alhough both the "position of need" factor and the trade back with the extra 3rd round pick helped mitigate some of Baldwin's riskiness. Jerod Mayo and Eric Berry were both originally considered luxury picks because of their positional value and the Jackson pick was widely panned as a massive reach. Meriweather was benched and later cut for not being a team player, but can't be considered a bust.

2nd Round Strategy: Get High: High Talent/ High Risk/ High Reward

"In the second round you find a lot of players with first round talent but not first round performance or production. The highest bust factor is in the second."

Five Year Sample:

  1. 2011: Rodney Hudson, C/G, Florida State
  2. 2010: A) Dexter McCluster, WR/RB/KR, Ole Miss
  3. 2010: B) Javier Arenas, CB/KR, Alabama
  4. 2009: No selections (pick traded for Cassel & Vrabel)
  5. 2008: Terrence Wheatley, CB/KR, Colorado
  6. 2007: No selections

Notes:

Rodney Hudson was widely considered a safe choice given his solid reputation as a college player, versatility as a guard and center and fitting a position of need for the Chiefs. Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas are both versatile players who were expected to contribute immediately on special teams. Injuries sidetracked versatile CB/KR Terrence Wheatley's career, although he is still technically in the league.

3rd Round Strategy: Forget Measureables, Look for Football Players

"In the third round, you see guys who are maybe better football players than a lot of guys in the second, but don't have the measurements."

  1. 2011: A) Justin Houston, OLB (3-4), Georgia
  2. 2011: B) Allen Bailey, DE/DT, Miami
  3. 2010: A) Jon Asamoah, OG, Illinois
  4. 2010: B) Tony Moeaki, TE, Iowa
  5. 2009: Alex Magee, DE (3-4), Purdue (out of football)
  6. 2008: A) Shawn Crable, OLB (3-4), Michigan (out of football)
  7. 2008: B) Kevin O'Connell, QB, San Diego State
  8. 2007: No selections

Notes:

Looking at that quote I expected to see more Kendrick Lewis type players. Instead there are bunch of guys with late first/early second round talent that slipped on draft day. Houston looked like a lock in the late first round, until the failed drug test. Allen Bailey was projected by some to go in between 34-44 overall. Jon Asamoah was the #2 rated guard in 2010, but slid because he played on bad offensive line. Moeaki was a late first round talent that dropped far because of major injury concerns. Alex Magee was classic case of drafting for position of need rather than best player available. He wasn't a risky selection, on paper at least, considering many scouts had him tagged as the #2 rated 3-4 DE behind Tyson Jackson. It just goes to show how weak the entire 2009 draft class was. Crable was 4-3 DE in college who never made the transition to OLB.

Part 2: Questions Pioli Asks About Every Player

Far more telling are the questions Pioli asks about every player before he drafts them (also from "War Room").

  • What's his role on the Chiefs?
  • What’s his value on special teams?
  • Will the role change from year one to year two?
  • How many downs can he be expected to play?
  • Which current player on the roster will he beat out?
  • Does he have positional versatility?
  • Round 1:

    Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh

  • What's his role on the Chiefs? Day 1 starter at #2 WR, prevents a repeat of the Baltimore playoff game
  • What’s his value on special teams? Can play special teams
  • Will the role change from year one to year two? Originally considered insurance policy if Bowe left in FA
  • How many downs can he be expected to play? All offensive snaps
  • Which current player on the roster will he beat out? Replaces Chris Chambers
  • Does he have positional versatility? No
  • Eric Berry, S, Tennessee

  • What's his role on the Chiefs? Day 1 starter at Strong Safety
  • What’s his value on special teams? Athletic enough to contribute
  • Will the role change from year one to year two? No
  • How many downs can he be expected to play? All defensive snaps
  • Which current player on the roster will he beat out? Replacss Mike Brown
  • Does he have positional versatility? Can play any DB position
  • Tyson Jackson, DE (3-4), LSU

  • What's his role on the Chiefs? Day 1 starter at 3-4 DE, vital for the transition to a 3-4 base defense
  • What’s his value on special teams? No
  • Will the role change from year one to year two? No
  • How many downs can he be expected to play? Was hoped to be a 3 down player, but lacked pass rush
  • Which current player on the roster will he beat out? Replaces Alfonso Boone
  • Does he have positional versatility? No
  • Round 2:

    Rodney Hudson, C/G, Florida State

  • What's his role on the Chiefs? Possible Day 1 starter at C if Weigmann had retired, interior line depth
  • What’s his value on special teams? No
  • Will the role change from year one to year two? Expected to take over C from Weigmann
  • How many downs can he be expected to play? All offensive snaps
  • Which current player on the roster will he beat out? Replaces for Rudy Niswanger
  • Does he have positional versatility? Can fill in at both OG and C positions
  • Dexter McCluster, WR/RB/KR, Ole Miss

  • What's his role on the Chiefs? Day 1 starter at KR. Limited contribution at slot receiver and RB
  • What’s his value on special teams? Major contributor on a ST unit that lacked ANY return talent in 2009
  • Will the role change from year one to year two? No
  • How many downs can he be expected to play? Many between offense and special teams
  • Which current player on the roster will he beat out? Replaces for Quinten Lawrence, a flop at KR
  • Does he have positional versatility? Extremely versatile, provides opportunity to create mismatches
  • Javier Arenas, CB/KR, Alabama

  • What's his role on the Chiefs? Day 1 starter as nickel CB, competition for KR/PR duties with McCluster
  • What’s his value on special teams? Major contributor on a ST unit that lacked ANY return talent in 2009
  • Will the role change from year one to year two? More snaps at CB, looks at safety in some formations
  • How many downs can he be expected to play? Nickel and dime packages, special teams
  • Which current player on the roster will he beat out? Replaces Ricardo Colclough / Quinten Lawrence
  • Does he have positional versatility? Nickel CB, blitzing threat, special teams
  • Round 3:

    Justin Houston, OLB (3-4), Georgia

  • What's his role on the Chiefs? Possible Day 1 starter at SOLB. Competition/depth for Studebaker
  • What’s his value on special teams? Limited contribution
  • Will the role change from year one to year two? A real pass-rush threat to complement Tamba Hali
  • How many downs can he be expected to play? All defensive snaps
  • Which current player on the roster will he beat out? Replaces Mike Vrabel
  • Does he have positional versatility? No
  • Allen Bailey, DE/DT, Miami

  • What's his role on the Chiefs? Competition/depth for DE, possible pass-rusher in nickel, dime packages
  • What’s his value on special teams? None
  • Will the role change from year one to year two? Possible replacement for Glenn Dorsey/Tyson Jackson
  • How many downs can he be expected to play? Passing downs
  • Which current player on the roster will he beat out? Replaces Alex Magee
  • Does he have positional versatility? Can fill in at both DE positions
  • Jon Asamoah, OG, Illinois

  • What's his role on the Chiefs? Depth for all interior line positions. RG of the future
  • What’s his value on special teams? None
  • Will the role change from year one to year two? Full-time starter at RG
  • How many downs can he be expected to play? All offensive snaps
  • Which current player on the roster will he beat out? Replaces Ikechuku Ndukwe
  • Does he have positional versatility? Can fill in at both OG and C
  • Tony Moeaki, TE, Iowa

  • What's his role on the Chiefs? Day 1 starter at TE, value in blocking and catching
  • What’s his value on special teams? Limited contribution
  • Will the role change from year one to year two? No
  • How many downs can he be expected to play? Most offensive snaps
  • Which current player on the roster will he beat out? Replaces Brad Cottam
  • Does he have positional versatility? No
  • Alex Magee, DE, Purdue

  • What's his role on the Chiefs? Possible Day 1 starter at RDE, depth for Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey
  • What’s his value on special teams? None
  • Will the role change from year one to year two? Possible transition to full-time starter
  • How many downs can he be expected to play? Rotational player on the defensive line
  • Which current player on the roster will he beat out? Replaces Turk McBride
  • Does he have positional versatility? No
  • Conclusion:

    Look at the box for "role" it's a like reading a list of the Chiefs most glaring weaknesses over the years. Also check out the box for the player on the roster they replace. It's a murderers row of weakness and ineptitude. Even a total bust like Alex Magee was better than the player he replaced from the 2008 roster.

    I think if we want an idea of who the Chiefs will target in the draft and free agency, make a list of the bottom performing positions and a list of players who should not under any circumstances be on the roster next year, I think that's who you'll see Pioli trying to upgrade.

    This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Arrowhead Pride's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Arrowhead Pride writers or editors.

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