View Full Version : Chiefs 2008 article about Pioli, Cassel, and the draft process

02-28-2009, 03:23 PM
I found this old article, figured it would be a more interesting read after today's moves... get an idea inside everyone's head and how these things happen.


Already feeling a draft
But Patriots' Pioli warming to task

By Christopher L. Gasper
Globe Staff / October 12, 2008

SAN JOSE, Calif. - The NFL draft is more than six months away, but for Patriots vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli, it is at the forefront of his thought process. That's part of being a player personnel decision maker. The future is never far off.

Pioli, clad in a black shirt, jeans, and sandals, sat down with a group of reporters Friday morning at the San Jose Marriott and shed some light on how the Patriots go about the scouting and evaluation process for college prospects.

He deflected questions about being rumored for other jobs (the latest being the Detroit Lions') and whether the Patriots will do anything before Tuesday's NFL trade deadline ("I have no idea"), keeping the focus of the 57-minute sit-down on his passion for the process of player discovery and evaluation.

As he works with coach Bill Belichick to retool and adjust the roster of the 2008 Patriots, Pioli is also evaluating college players who could come into play for the 2009 Patriots.

Pioli attends games and meets with Belichick following them to discuss roster issues. He spends Mondays and Tuesday pinpointing players the Patriots might want to bring in or work out, and after that he's free to scout colleges until the Patriots' next game.

"It's shifting gears going back and forth," said Pioli. "I also know the future of this football team is what's going to happen next April, so the work we're doing now is critical."

Big man on campus

Pioli, who typically visits 20-25 college campuses a year, annually makes a West Coast sojourn for scouting purposes. This year he dovetailed the trip with the Patriots' first set of back-to-back West Coast games against the 49ers and Chargers.

Pioli went to Southern Cal (where the coach is former Patriots coach Pete Carroll), Cal-Berkeley, Stanford, Oregon, and then down to Fresno State to visit Pat Hill's program, which is a hot spot for the Patriots because Hill worked as a tight ends/offensive line coach when Belichick was the head man in Cleveland and Pioli was part of the personnel department. Hill has provided the Patriots with starters in left guard Logan Mankins and safety James Sanders.

Pioli said such trips give him a chance to meet, observe, and interact with players before they've been filtered and trained by the agents who prep them for their interviews at the NFL Combine in February. The Patriots, who actually started reviewing this year's seniors last spring, before the 2008 draft, leave no stone unturned in getting information on a prospect, talking to everyone from the head coach to the equipment manager to even the janitor.

It was during one of these trips four years ago that Pioli first saw the player who will start at quarterback for the Patriots today, Matt Cassel.

Pioli cited Cassel as an example of how diligent scouting can pay dividends. Cassel threw just 33 passes in college at USC as he was stuck behind a pair of Heisman Trophy winners in Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart. However, then-Patriots area scout Matt Russell, following organization protocol, wrote up a report on all the Trojans' senior prospects, including Cassel.

"I was getting ready to go out there and do my West Coast trip and one of the things I do is I always call the regional scout and the area scout to get an idea of what do I need to take a look at," said Pioli. "[Russell] went through the roster and he said, 'Oh, there is this backup quarterback. He was a hotshot coming out of high school. He's been behind Carson. He's been behind [Leinart]. But he's a really interesting guy here. He has great tools, strong arm, a really good athlete. Can you just take a look at him? Maybe he'd be a good camp arm.' "

Pioli went to USC and liked what he saw - "a strong arm, accurate, really good athlete, moves well."

Casing Cassel

When USC held its Pro Day in the spring of 2005, Cassel did a solo workout afterward. Many teams left; Russell asked Pioli if he wanted him to stay and watch Cassel.

"He calls me after the Pro Day and he's like, 'This guy threw the ball really well. He lit it up. He was on,' " recalled Pioli. "We ended up getting more tape on him. We got practice tape. We got the [33] passes that he threw in his four years. We watched it.

"We're thinking and talking and we see him as a draftable guy. We think, 'OK, the guy has never played, so maybe you can wait until after the draft to get him as a rookie free agent.' "

But knowing of Cassel's close relationship with USC offensive coordinator Norm Chow, who had left to become the offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans that February, and his friendship with Palmer, the starter for the Cincinnati Bengals, the Patriots decided not to take any chances, drafting him in the seventh round.

"That's part of the process," said Pioli. "I had seen the player at this time of year because the area scout had done his job really well and done it the way he was supposed to do it. Even though the guy wasn't playing, he wrote him up and gave me a heads-up to take a look at him. To me, that's a really good example of how the process works."

Pioli said no one yet knows how Cassel is going to turn out, but the fact he has been able to step in for Tom Brady, who is out for the season after tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee in the opener, bodes well for Cassel's development as a prospect.

"It's been encouraging that for where we picked him that he's been in that role," said Pioli. "He's been encouraging. He's been good. He's been the backup quarterback, the No. 3, the No. 2.

"We'll see how this goes. He's played four NFL games and he's won three so far [knocking on wood]. That's a decent start."

02-28-2009, 03:32 PM
This trade.

Pioli 1, BB .5

02-28-2009, 03:36 PM
Nice read. Hopefully Pioli can turn to those scouts now that he's running the Chiefs.


02-28-2009, 03:40 PM
great article