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Tribal Warfare
04-22-2010, 02:05 AM
Pioli must have a strong draft (http://www.kansascity.com/2010/04/21/1894421/pioli-must-have-a-strong-draft.html)
By SAM MELLINGER
The Kansas City Star

Scott Pioli is in his 16th month leading the Chiefs. He has fired and hired coaches, traded a future Hall of Famer, and given a quarterback a $63 million contract.

What he hasn’t done — yet — is run a draft that provides the Chiefs any obvious improvement.

Starting today, for a handful of reasons, this NFL draft gives the Chiefs as good a chance to improve as they may ever have with Pioli as general manager. The consequences for not taking advantage are real and deep.

“If it’s not better, then forget about it just being a long season,” says Chris Landry, a longtime scout and now a consultant for about a third of the league. “It’s going to be long, about a three-year run. They need to hit it and they need to hit it strong.”

This all comes in the context of last year’s draft. Pioli’s first with the Chiefs and first as a general manager is widely viewed around the league as disappointing.

It takes time to fully evaluate a draft class, of course, and that view could change. But Tyson Jackson went third overall when a player capable of many of the same things could’ve been had much later, and the most memorable pick in the class was the very last selection — kicker Ryan Succop. The rest of the class is reserves, or worse.

For their part, the Chiefs won’t let on about any disappointment. Pioli says that defensive linemen, in particular, are more fairly evaluated after two years than one, but he does acknowledge a few key points that make this week’s draft a must-hit for the Chiefs.

By virtue of their 4-12 record and trade of Tony Gonzalez, the Chiefs have three of the first 50 picks in what is widely considered a loaded draft. NFL folks look at the Chiefs’ situation and say they should be able to get at least two, and possibly three first-round talents.

There are an especially high number of underclassmen making this one of the deepest drafts in years. Pioli says he can’t think of any position that’s lacking for prospects.

Pioli also figures to be better prepared this time around. He’d been on the job three months for last year’s draft, the scouting and personnel departments rushing to make up for lost time.

Now, Pioli has more of his own guys to help and more of his own time to do it right. Coordinators Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis should provide needed perspective on key prospects.

“This year,” Pioli says, “there’s just a little bit different feel. I think it has something to do with familiarity.”

What it all means is that there are no more excuses. Pioli and his team have every possible opportunity to get this right, and if they don’t, it goes a long way toward determining their success in Kansas City and Pioli’s reputation as a personnel man outside the New England bubble.

It’s not hard to find NFL folks who don’t believe the Chiefs got any better with last year’s draft. Other teams did, and each opportunity the Chiefs miss puts them further away from being competitive. Whiffing on draft after draft is how the Lions became the Lions.

The Chiefs surprised most everyone by taking Jackson third overall last year, so there’s no reason to be confident on who they’ll take today.

Pioli seemed to dismiss Russell Okung when he said Branden Albert is the team’s left tackle and hasn’t practiced other positions, but he wouldn’t be the first NFL GM to send a head-fake through the media. Eric Berry remains the fan favorite, with late momentum toward Rolando McClain.

Right now, most Chiefs fans are willing to believe the best, to give the benefit of the doubt to a general manager and personnel team with an impressive collective track record.

But that’s all gone if the roster still isn’t improved after another draft class. One missed draft means the team didn’t improve enough. Two misses means the team will have regressed.

Blick
04-22-2010, 02:25 AM
Right now, true fans are willing to believe the best, to give the benefit of the doubt to a general manager and personnel team with an impressive collective track record.

FYP.

milkman
04-22-2010, 06:11 AM
Never seen Sam Mellinger before, but he seems to get it.

SenselessChiefsFan
04-22-2010, 06:19 AM
In other news....water is wet.