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:
Bold indicates players who remain on the Chiefs roster (expected franchise tag for Bowe)
Italics indicates players who were 2008 rookies
Strikethroughsindicate 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:
- 2011: Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
- 2010: Eric Berry, S, Tennessee (Pro Bowler)
- 2009: Tyson Jackson, DE (3-4), LSU
- 2008: Jerod Mayo, ILB, Tennessee (Pro Bowler)
- 2007: Brandon Meriweather, S, Miami (Pro Bowler)
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:
- 2011: Rodney Hudson, C/G, Florida State
- 2010: A) Dexter McCluster, WR/RB/KR, Ole Miss
- 2010: B) Javier Arenas, CB/KR, Alabama
- 2009: No selections (pick traded for Cassel & Vrabel)
- 2008: Terrence Wheatley, CB/KR, Colorado
- 2007: No selections
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."
- 2011: A) Justin Houston, OLB (3-4), Georgia
- 2011: B) Allen Bailey, DE/DT, Miami
- 2010: A) Jon Asamoah, OG, Illinois
- 2010: B) Tony Moeaki, TE, Iowa
Alex Magee, DE (3-4), Purdue (out of football)
- 2008: A)
Shawn Crable, OLB (3-4), Michigan (out of football)
- 2008: B) Kevin O'Connell, QB, San Diego State
- 2007: No selections
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?
Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh
Eric Berry, S, Tennessee
Tyson Jackson, DE (3-4), LSU
Rodney Hudson, C/G, Florida State
Dexter McCluster, WR/RB/KR, Ole Miss
Javier Arenas, CB/KR, Alabama
Justin Houston, OLB (3-4), Georgia
Allen Bailey, DE/DT, Miami
Jon Asamoah, OG, Illinois
Tony Moeaki, TE, Iowa
Alex Magee, DE, Purdue
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.