The following is a transcript of an interview with Scott Pioli regarding this year's draft
Chiefs! : Mr. Pioli it seems like most of the knowledgable folks over here at Arrowhead Pride have a great interest in the OL and DL this year especially with our first pick. What do you think of that?
Pioli : I think they very well should, they seem to be knowledgable about the game. The OL is the unit that allows the offense to run, they make the QB, RB, WR, and TE better. An upgrade to this unit will improve the entire offense. Likewise an improvement to the DL will improve your LB, CB, and S. We have a lot of playmakers roaming back there, an improved DL will help them all to get more opportunities to make big plays.
Chiefs! : So why is it that you have drafted all DL with your top 15 picks and not OL?
Pioli : Excellent question there are multiple reasons and for you to get an understanding of this I would have to explain to you the nuances of each unit.
Chiefs! : Interesting... let's start with the OL, why is it that you believe they are moderately less valuable and why have you been able to find developmental projects later in the draft?
Pioli : Well I heard recently someone say that the OL is only as strong as its weakest link. This couldn't be further from the truth. The OL is as strong as the sum of its parts. There is a reason that you hear cohesion, continuity, and 'gelling' when people talk about OL. This is because you scheme to your weaknesses and strengths. Do you have a weak link? Then you double his assignment, help from the C or the LT. Think that weakens you further? Line up a TE strong on his side, or keep the RB or FB in tight to step up and stop a pocket push or other assignment. The bottom line is you scheme with pass protection blocking assignments to maximize your effectiveness and minimize your weaknesses. Also there are hot reads, screen plays, chop blocks, numerous things to stop the immediate explosion off the ball of the DL and make them think twice. What about the run game? What happens when you get 3 yards running to the left and 5 yards running to the right? Well you are the offense, you choose what you do, so you run to the right and follow your strength. This is why the OL is the sum of its parts, so any upgrade is welcome and warranted but will not have as large of an effect as the DL...
Chiefs! : Wow, that makes perfect sense. The offense chooses what it does so it has so many options to limit its weaknesses and play to its strengths... now what about the DL?
Pioli : Let me start by saying I find it funny how people devalue 3-4 DL. These linemen actually need to be better athletes than 4-3 DL. They will get less stats, but it is more likely that they have 600 lbs of man bashing into them instead of 300 lbs. Football values physical ability the most and the man who can not only stand up to two that are his size, but potentially make plays while doing it is extraordinarily rare. So even just standing up to that double team goes an incredible way towards the success of the defense. Think about how often people expect every 3-4 lineman to command a double team... if that happened every time then our 3 linemen would be handling 6 of their 5 offensive linemen (get it?)... basically a good 3-4 DL that can take a double team is invaluable. Also the DL is the place where you are only as strong as your weakest link. Think of my example before of the offense getting 3 yards running to the left and 5 to the right? Where do you think they will keep running? You can always roll a safety over, but then you open yourself up to the big play... so you choose a slow death, bleeding out, or the quick one, where you just get your head chopped off with a 50 yard touchdown bomb. Basically when you get an opportunity to take a premier 3-4 DL you TAKE HIM.
Chiefs! : Makes sense again, you do a marvelous job explaining your draft tendencies. But you never really touched specifically on why you can get developmental OL later, but not as much DL?
Pioli : As much as technique is important, that is something that can be coached, athletic ability cannot, and while strength may improve some over time from being in an NFL strength and conditioning program overall athletic ability will not. This is why I value OL projects over DL projects, especially in the 3-4. As mentioned earlier, scheming, being a technician, and working as a unit are the most important part of the OL. These can definitely be coached and improved over time. I am not saying athletic ability doesn't matter on OL, but it is not as important as the DL. And once again if you get a 3-4 DL 'prospect' even if you coach up his technique and understanding, he will probably not have the athletic ability to play 3-4 DL successfully. This is why I approach the draft this way.
Chiefs! : Simply amazing. Your genius astounds.
(For those who could not tell, this was made up... yet everything written is 100% true)