Late Round Picks: Examining A Decade Of Scott Pioli Selections

From the FanPosts. -Joel

Drafting players is always a bit of crapshoot in the NFL. In the early rounds GMs look for players with uncanny measureables or tremendous statistical production from the best college conferences. In rounds 4-7, teams have to make bets on smaller; slower players, kids who didn't go to dynasty schools; or perhaps were playing out of position.

Sometimes this gambles pay off. Chiefs fans are certainly spoiled in this regard. In recent years the last four rounds of the draft have produced a crop of bona fide studs such as Jared Allen (rd. 4), Brandon Carr (rd. 5), Kendrick Lewis (rd. 5) and Ryan Succop (last pick rd. 7). Many of these players, however, never pan out. After a few years of scraping the bottom of the roster or practice squad, they wash out of the league.

Scott Pioli took over as vice president of player personnel for the New England Patriots in 2002, giving us a nice ten year sample of late round draft selections. Let's see what trends we can uncover from the last decade of Pioli picks.

Round Player Position College Status

2011 4 Jalil Brown CB/S Colorado 3rd String
5A Ricky Stanzi QB Iowa 3rd String
5B Gabe Miller OLB Oregon State 3rd String
6 Jerrell Powe NT Ole Miss Backup
7 Shane Bannon FB Yale

They know their role:

Jalil Brown, CB/S:

Many draft analysts listed Brown as the best press corner in the 2011 Draft. Despite being listed as the third RCB behind Carr and Arenas in week 17, he's the Chiefs second best option to jam receivers at the line. If Routt were to go down due to injury, I think Brown could easily get the start over Arenas if the opposing receiver was tall or physical.

Ricky Stanzi, QB:

Some fans interpreted Coach Hobo's inexplicable starting of Shane Falco Tyler Palko as an indication that Stanzi wasn't fit to see the field. Frankly, I have a hard time believing anyone could be as bad as Palko. The addition of Brady Quinn seems more like a move designed to guarantee that the Chiefs have a NFL-caliber (as opposed to cut from an arena team) QB if Cassel went down. I see Stanzi as a long-term development project—one that could potentially yield a starting quarterback.

Questions remain:

Gabe Miller, OLB:

Drafted based on his all-world quick-twitch off-the-line burst but couldn't unseat Cameron Sheffield as the pass rusher backing up Tamba Hali, before he was stashed on the Injured Reserve list for the year. A full year of film study, conditioning and an actual offseason should help him make the transition from 4-3 DE, but the OLB position is starting to look crowded.

Shane Bannon, FB:

A versatile H-back type player that never saw the active roster despite a rash of injuries at running back. Letting Le'Ron McClain walk and not signing any true replacements at fullback seems to bode well for this Ivy League product, but a free agent signing or scheme tweak by new OC Brian Daboll might make him completely expendable.

Jerrell Powe, NT:

I was holding my breath every time the Chiefs were on the clock last year wondering if the pick would be Ricky Stanzi or Jerrell Powe. Based on his two-gap play at Ole Miss, Powe was creeping into the first round of some 2010 mock drafts. A year later he fell to the sixth for a variety of factors including: his age, disappointing senior stats, his learning disability and lack of scheme versatility. Then we started hearing rumors last season from an anonymous "source at Arrowhead" that Powe might have been a wasted pick. I'd love to see him develop into a player that demands more playing time, but the acquisition of Dontari Poe and re-signing of Amon Gordon are putting him in a position where he needs to prove his value.

2010 5A Kendrick Lewis FS Ole Miss Starter
5B Cameron Sheffield OLB Troy Backup

They know their role:

Kendrick Lewis, FS:

A day one starter from the fifth round is a rare feat. Kansas City fans are getting spoiled by excellent defensive backs from the late rounds. With Romeo Crennel's love of 3 safety looks, I think we can expect Kendrick Lewis to be playing centerfield at Arrowhead for a good long while.

Cam Sheffield, OLB:

Troy knows how to produce pass rushers. Both Osi Umenyiora and DeMarcus Ware suited up for Trojans before finding fame and fortune on the fields of the NFL. Despite suffering a devastating neck injury in the 2010 preseason, Sheffield managed to come back and earn a spot backing up Tamba Hali in 2011. The lack of additions to the OLB corps this offseason seems to indicate that this position is set for the time being. Sheffield looks to have the inside track again in 2012, but he'll have to to stave off Gabe Miller in training camp.

2009 4 Donald Washington S Ohio State 3rd String
5 Colin Brown OT Missouri Washed Out
6 Quinten Lawrence WR/KR McNeese State 3rd String (Dolphins)
7A Javarris Williams RB Tennessee State Washed Out
7B Jake O'Connell TE Miami (OH) 3rd String (Chiefs)
7C Ryan Succop K South Carolina Starter

They know their role:

Ryan Succop, K: This Gamecock knows how to ball.

Questions remain:

Donald Washington, Safety:

A super athlete who doesn't look so super on the field (unless he's playing with Sabby Piscatelli). This could be probably should be the year that he loses a training camp battle and gets cut. Unfortunately, this year's weak safety class could keep him around until 2013. The only UDFA who I think has shot to unseat Donald Washington is K-State's Tysyn Hartman. Fun fact: I think Washington still holds the record for highest vertical leap at any NFL Combine ever.

Jake O'Connell, TE:

I really wanted to draft Clemson's Dwayne Allen. I would have tried to trade back in the second round to get him. Jake is really neither fish nor fowl at the TE position, so I could see a pure blocker like Maneri beating him our for the third TE spot, (or Mims/Stephenson spending some time lined up at TE in jumbo and power running packages). I wouldn't HATE signing a guy like Dallas Clark just to tide the Chiefs over until next year. It worked with Kelly Gregg right?

Certified misses:

Quinten Lawrence, WR/CB/KR:

This small school player could never really catch on. Already cut once by the Dolphins this is his last training camp to prove something.

Colin Brown OT:

A miss in a weak 2009 Draft class. I have to think that he'd be an UDFA in other years.

Javarris Williams, RB:

Was a camp body for the Texans last year, but as far I know hasn't managed to sign with any team yet.

*** The Patriot Years ***

2008 4 Jonathan Wilhite CB Auburn Backup (Bears)
5 Matthew Slater Special Teams UCLA Pro Bowl Special Teams Captain
6 Bo Ruud LB Nebraska Washed Out

2008 Notes: Matthew Slater is an All-Pro Special Teamer and Jonathan Wilhite has looked decent as a backup CB. You can never have too many good DBs.

2007 4 Kareem Brown DE Miami (FL) Washed Out
5 Clint Oldenburg OT Colorado State Washed Out
6 Justin Rogers LB SMU Washed Out
6 Mike Richardson CB Notre Dame Backup (Colts)
6 Justise Hairston RB Central Connecticut Washed Out
6 Corey Hilliard OG Oklahoma State Backup (Lions)
7 Oscar Lua LB USC Washed Out
7 Mike Elgin C Iowa

Washed Out

2007 Notes: The height of Belichick/Pioli trade back mania. You have to wonder if these players got enough coaching/attention to get a shot at developing into NFL players.

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2006 4 Garrett Mills TE Tulsa Practice Squad (Patriots)
4 Stephen Gostkowski K Memphis Pro Bowl Starter
5 Ryan O'Callaghan OT California Retired Backup/Spot Starter
6 Jeremy Mincey DE Florida Starter (Jaguars)
6 Dan Stevenson OG Notre Dame Washed Out
6 Le Kevin Smith DT Nebraska Washed Out
7 Willie Andrews DB Baylor Washed Out

2006 Notes: Any 4th round kicker ought to be hit. Mincey was genuine find in the sixth. Stealing Ryan O'Callaghan off the Patriots practice squad and starting him was a pure desperation move. Thank god we finally have a bit of roster depth.

2005 4 James Sanders S Frenso State Backup (Cardinals)
5 Ryan Claridge LB UNLV Washed Out
7A Matt Cassel QB USC Pro Bowl Alternate Starter
7B Andy Stokes TE William Penn Washed Out

2005 Notes: Nothing to see here, move along.

2004 4A Dexter Reid S North Carolina Retired Backup
4B Cedric Cobbs RB Arkansas Washed Out
5 P. K. Sam WR Florida State Washed Out
7 Christian Morton CB Florida State Retired Special Teams

2004 Notes: Neither Reid nor Morton really lit the world on fire. I would have thought Cobbs would have translated better to the NFL in a "running back by committee" system, he ran in the 4.5-4.6 range at 225-232 lbs and put up 3,027 rushing yards at the University of Arkansas.

2003 4A Dan Klecko DT Temple Retired Backup
4B Asante Samuel CB Central Florida Pro Bowl Starter (Falcons)
5 Dan Koppen C Boston College Pro Bowl Starter (Patriots)
6 Kliff Kingsbury QB Texas Tech Washed Out
7 Spencer Nead TE BYU Washed Out
7A Tully Banta-Cain LB California Retired Starter
7B Ethan Kelley NT Baylor Injury Retired Starter

2003 Notes: What a stud class. Asante Samuel and Dan Koppen are perennial Pro-Bowlers. Dan Klecko and Tully Banta-Cain both started for multiple teams, although calling either of them true starters is a stretch. Ethan Kelley started for the Patriots before following Romeo Crennel to the Browns in 2005. He looked like a promising player seeing starts at both NT and 3-4 DE before knee injuries prematurely ended his career.

2002 4A Rohan Davey QB LSU Washed Out
4B Jarvis Green DE (3-4) LSU Retired Starter/Backup
7A Antwoine Womack RB Virginia Washed Out
7B David Givens WR Notre Dame Injury Retired Starter

2002 Notes: David Givens was a playoff stud during the dynasty era. He signed 5-year deal with the Titans when an ACL tear ended his career. Jarvis Green was another of those beloved LSU defensive linemen. He was a stuck behind future hall-of-famer Richard Seymour for most of his career, but would have been a starting lineman on many teams.

*** Trends ***

Total Picks in rounds 4-7: 50 (not counting the 5 from the 2012 Draft)


Starters: 6/50 counting kickers and sometime starters like Banta-Cain but not Pro Bowlers

Backups: 10/50 I'm listing O'Callaghan as he is out of the league but did start for a year

Too soon to tell: 4/50 Stanzi, Bannon, Miller, Brown


Running Back: 0/4 (0% success rate)


*** Conclusion ***

What does the future hold for our latest crop of late round picks?

4 Devon Wylie WR Fresno State

5 DeQuan Menzie FS/CB Alabama

6 Cyrus Gray RB Texas A&M

7 Jerome Long DE (3-4) San Diego State

7 Junior Hemingway WR Michigan

I have absolutely no idea, but I did learn a few other lessons along the way:

1. Draft developmental O-linemen early and developmental D-linemen late

I'm guessing this is because most offensive linemen play every snap, whereas a developmental defensive lineman can get his feet wet in sub packages.

2. Defensive backs are safe picks

The 91% success rate is a little high, a few of those guys listed as depth hung around the bottom of their rosters for years by playing special teams. With growing importance of nickel and dime units teams need a lot of talented defensive backs.

3. Pioli kinda sucks at drafting running backs

I hope Cyrus Gray is the one that breaks the trend, because he's never hit on a late round guy—ever.

4. Never draft a stud linebacker's little brother

Bo Ruud =\= Barrett Ruud and Casey Matthews =\= Clay Matthews

5. A 5th round pick is just as likely to succeed as a 7th round pick

So don't count Junior Hemingway out or Gabe Miller in.

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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