We always reference the draft as being the key to long-term success in the NFL. You live and die by the draft, they say. While that's true, it's only part of the story.
Not only do you have to draft the right players, you need to develop them into legitimate NFL players as well. This is the part of things that are forgotten sometimes.
Chiefs coach Todd Haley hasn't forgotten about that key aspect of the draft. When asked about the lack of action the defensive front seven has seen in free agency and the draft, Haley talked about the importance of developing the young players already in-house.
"I hope it starts with the guys we have in the building right now that I have hope for and that we have hope for. In this league, to be a consistently good team, you have to develop players.
"You have to.
"If you don't develop players, you're going to have a hard time being any good to start with and then sustaining for sure. You have to develop young players. We have a lot of young guys in this building that have a year under their belt, have a year of dealing with me and most of our coaches [and knowing] what's expected. They're starting to make progress.They need to make progress and I think they understand that. They're trying to put themselves in a position to take another step. If we have that happen, first and foremost, we're going to be better."
Derrick Johnson could be an example of this. He's a young player (drafted in 2005) and plays at a perceived position of need. (inside linebacker). The other position of need, as perceived by those outside the Truman Sports Complex, is nose tackle. The Chiefs signed Shaun Smith in free agency but after that haven't addressed the position.
Haley said there has to be more of the "maybe" guys stepping up and turning into, at the minimum, a solid backup, or more. He also pointed out a reality that complicates things when it comes to evaluating these Chiefs -- "It doesn't mean anything to say you're starting games if your record was four wins."