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Scott Pioli On The Kansas City Chiefs Draft Day Strategy

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A few weeks ago I sat down with Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli to pick his brain as the 2011 NFL draft nears. Now that the draft is a mere hours away I wanted to take a look at what's kind of strategy he has on draft day.

What does he do in the 10 minutes between picks in the first round? How often is he talking with teams about a trade? Does he spend a lot of time simply waiting around? 

One thing I noticed during our chat is that when you bring up the strategy of the NFL draft, you may as well sit back and listen for a while because he can get going. You can tell that the strategy of the draft -- when to trade down, when to trade up, grouping players -- is what gets him excited about the draft.
For us, as mock drafters, we can get a pick wrong and it's no big deal. For Pioli, it's a bit of a bigger deal. He talked about what the Chiefs draft room is like -- the specifics of that will be coming up in a separate posting -- and he also discussed the strategy behind the draft.

The crux of what he said is that there's a lot more that goes into the draft than sitting around and waiting for your pick. 

"I have to focus on what other teams are doing," he said. "There's a strategy involved and there are all kinds of things happening that people don't know. The whole trades component -- there's a strategy involved."

Most of these never get out because they're exploratory calls but there are a lot of these discussions. Pioli said to me that he may look to assistant GM Joel Collier and ask him to determine how much it would cost to move up 10 picks if there's a player they like. And he has to be ready with that information because the process is so fluid and fast-moving.

As for trades...

"Every pick that's happening," he said, "we're talking about the potential of trading up or back. When we get to our spot, we're thinking about not only the player but about trading back and what's the value in that.

"Is there a group of four players there, that if we move back three spots, we know we're going to get a good player we like that will help this football team and get an extra pick? Or does it make sense if we're three picks away and we know that there's a chance that, [for example] Matt Light, that he's going to disappear off the board? And what would it cost us to assure that we get the guy that we want? We did that with Matt Light and Ty Warren with the Patriots."

If that seems like a lot of action in a short amount of time, that's because it is. Pioli says at the end of the day you should be "emotionally exhausted" rather than sitting around waiting for your turn to pick.

"You have to think -- be proactive. Even if you don't do it, think about different ways that you can strategize at having a better chance of doing what you believe is right.

"Sometimes it doesn't work out. Sometimes you make moves and you completely blow it and make the wrong choice or wrong decision. or you go up and get a guy that doesn't work out. As long as you put the time and energy into it, you increase the chances of making good decisions."

This process will be playing out in just a few hours. Can you wait that long?