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Palmer: A closer look at four years of ***** draft busts with the Chiefs
A closer look at four years of ***** draft busts with the Chiefs
By TOD PALMER
The Kansas City Star
As we look ahead at the 2013 NFL Draft, it’s instructive to also look back — that is, back at the Chiefs’ most recent drafts under former general manager Scott *****.
*****’s checkered success in the draft wasn’t the only reason his tenure ultimately was marked by on-field failure and off-field fan frustration, but it’s a good starting point. He had a lot more misses than hits in his four draft classes.
Nobody knows better than new Chiefs head coach Andy Reid that the trend of lackluster drafting can’t continue if his time in Kansas City, not to mention that of new general manager John Dorsey, will end better than *****’s did.
“You’ve got to draft well,” Reid said. “I don’t think you build your team in free agency. That’s not how you go about it, and I’ve experienced that. I’ve seen that firsthand. You can afford to bring a guy in here or there (through free agency), but you better have that nucleus of guys you raised up.”
Every draft pick is a opportunity to make a franchise better. But too often during the last four seasons, the Chiefs failed to capitalize on those chances.
Knowing full well that hindsight is 20/20, we’re taking a look back at each draft choice during *****’s tenure, and guys the Chiefs could’ve landed instead. The 2009 and 2010 reviews are below; check back for the rest later this week:
First round, No. 5 overall
• Chiefs picked: S Eric Berry, Tennessee
• Could have had: Berry
He’s been picked for a pair of Pro Bowls and still shows plenty of promise, especially given the fact that he missed the 2011 season because a torn ACL. It was a solid year for first-round picks, and the Chiefs got a good one.
Second round, No. 36 overall
• Chiefs picked: RB Dexter McCluster, Mississippi
• Could have had: TE Rob Gronkowski, Arizona (New England)
Who would have helped Cassel more? A massive tackle- and record-breaking tight end, or a luxury piece on offense? Gronkowski’s size alone makes him a better fit for a Chiefs squad saddled with inaccurate quarterbacks. He went 42nd overall.
Second round, No. 50 overall
• Chiefs picked: CB Javier Arenas, Alabama
• Could have had: WR Golden Tate, Notre Dame (Seattle)
It isn’t that Arenas doesn’t fit in well with the Chiefs as a reserve cornerback, but rather that ***** picked him 50th overall primarily as a return specialist. He went too early, while Tate, who went 60th overall, could have done at least as well returning kicks and would’ve helped a depleted wide receiver group.
Third round, No. 68 overall
• Chiefs picked: G Jon Asamoah, Illinois
• Could have had: WR Eric Decker, Minnesota
Asamoah has been a solid choice, with 31 starts in the last two seasons, but Decker — selected 87th — has scored 21 touchdowns the last two seasons. Quarterback Colt McCoy also was available as a potential challenger for Cassel, and Bears safety Major Wright was there for the taking.
Third round, No. 93 overall
• Chiefs picked: TE Tony Moeaki, Iowa
• Could have had: TE Jimmy Graham, University of Miami (New Orleans)
So, you want a tight end? Fine, but ***** whiffed in going with the oft-injured Moeaki, who played for his pal Kirk Ferentz in college. New Orleans snagged Graham, who had 99 catches for 1,310 yards with 11 touchdowns in 2011 alone, two picks later.
Fifth round, No. 136 overall
• Chiefs picked: S Kendrick Lewis, Mississippi
• Could have had: Lewis
Lewis has been a solid performer for the Chiefs — perhaps better even than fans seem to believe. Last season was marred by injury, but Lewis should bounce back. He had three interceptions his first two seasons and makes the calls on defense, which isn’t bad for a fifth-round pick.
Fifth round, No. 142 overall
• Chiefs picked: DE Cameron Sheffield, Troy
• Could have had: OT J’Marcus Webb, West Texas A&M (Chicago)
Sheffield started one game in a 17-game NFL career, while Webb (218th overall) has started 44 games — mostly at left tackle — for the Bears in three NFL seasons.
First round, No. 3 overall
• Chiefs picked: DE Tyson Jackson, LSU
• Could have had: DT B.J. Raji, Boston College (Green Bay)
By all accounts, Jackson was a reach at No. 3 overall, and he’s yet to produce at anything approaching the level expected of a top draft choice, with just five sacks in 59 games. Meanwhile, Raji, who went six picks later, has been a Pro Bowl anchor for Green Bay’s defensive line. Tackles Andre Smith and Eugene Monroe also would’ve made sense.
Second round, No. 34 overall
• Chiefs picked: Traded the pick to New England for QB Matt Cassel
• Could have had: S Jairus Byrd, Oregon (Buffalo)
While it didn’t work out (and handing Cassel an immediate long-term extension was premature), the trade was a good risk. The Chiefs needed a quarterback, and he’d won 10 games as a starter in 2008 with the Patriots. But a ball-hawking Pro Bowl safety would have been nice too. Byrd went 42nd overall.
Third round, No. 67 overall
• Chiefs picked: DT Alex Magee, Purdue
• Could have had: WR Mike Wallace, Mississippi (Pittsburgh)
Magee made 18 tackles in 25 games and was out of the league after two seasons, while Wallace, who went 17 picks later, is the deep threat the Chiefs have sorely lacked in a beleaguered offense.
Fourth round, No. 102 overall
• Chiefs picked: CB Donald Washington, Ohio State
• Could have had: DT Henry Melton, Texas (Chicago)
Melton, who went three players after Washington and has 15 1/2 sacks in three seasons, might not have been a perfect fit in Romeo Crennel’s 3-4 defense, but he’d have been a better choice than Washington, who never had an interception in 32 career games.
Fifth round, No. 139 overall
• Chiefs picked: T Colin Brown, Missouri
• Could have had: LB Jasper Brinkley, South Carolina (Minnesota)
Even Mizzou fans scratched their heads about this pick. Brown has played 12 games for the Bills in the last three seasons. Meanwhile, Brinkley, who was chosen 11 picks later, and Dolphins safety Chris Clemons have been far more productive NFL players.
Sixth round, No. 175 overall
• Chiefs picked: WR Quinten Lawrence, McNeese State
• Could have had: CB Jason McCourty, Rutgers (Tennessee)
Lawrence never made much impact, participating primarily on special teams, while McCourty (203rd overall) has emerged a solid-tackling, top-tier cornerback.
Seventh round, No. 212 overall
• Chiefs picked: RB Javarris Williams, Tennessee State
• Could have had: WR Julian Edelman, Kent State (New England)
Williams never stuck in the NFL, racking up six career carries for six yards, while Edelman (232nd overall) might’ve solved the Chiefs’ return issues while providing depth at wide receiver.
Seventh round, No. 237 overall
• Chiefs picked: TE Jake O’Connell, Miami (Ohio)
• Could have had: G Lance Louis, San Diego State (Chicago)
O’Connell has played in 35 games, but has just 15 catches for 108 yards and no touchdowns in four seasons with the Chiefs, while Louis (No. 246 overall) has started 24 games in the last two seasons mostly at right guard.
Seventh round, No. 256
• Chiefs picked: K Ryan Succop, South Carolina
• Could have had: Succop
Mr. Irrelevant filled a need and — by and large — has filled it well for four seasons. But he’ll be challenged to keep his job after a missing four field-goal attempts inside 39 yards this past season.