Draft day isn’t so disconcerting for Chiefs fans with Scott Pioli in charge according to Scott Pummell of the St. Johseph-News Press.
The Chiefs for the last decade drafted the way Donald Rumsfeld ran the Defense Department: with a swagger backed up by astounding failure. Kansas City drafted just two Pro Bowlers in the first and second rounds in the last decade: OL John Tait and RB Larry Johnson. A 2-for-18 record won’t lift a team to the Super Bowl, playoffs or anywhere other than a franchise worst 2-14 season.
And that’s why Pioli gets to hand over the Chiefs’ selections to the commissioner at next weekend’s NFL draft. He has built a reputation as a top personnel man while helping build the New England Patriots into the New England Patriots. Pioli is leaving all options opening as he continues to build the team:
“We’re trying not to marry ourselves to one specific way…You never know what the opportunities might be, what free agency might be from year to year. You never know who’s going to be cut and put out on the street. There’s opportunity everywhere.”
I’ve been pretty open that I’m as excited as anyone going into draft day. But don’t confuse that with total confidence. The lack of any sort of success for this franchise in the draft has not been lost on me. The best way I can put it cautiously optimistic. So while I intend to trust Scott Pioli’s judgement as he goes into his first draft as the man with final say, I am still scared out of my mind.
The Chiefs may have had the worst pass rush in history last season, but as Adam Teicher points out you don’t have to use a first round pick to find the player needed to change things.
Among the league’s top 10 sack artists last season, only four were first-round draft picks. The other all came along later — in some cases much later. Pittsburgh’s James Harrison, fourth in the league with 16 sacks was undrafted. So there is hope for the Chiefs even if they don’t draft a pass rusher in the first round.
Safety Jarrad Page, who had a front row seat to last season’s non-existent pass rush agrees with that line of thinking:
“I don’t know if we even need to draft a pass rusher. The scheme may take care of it. You can never put the blame on one person’s shoulders. It was the players’ fault and the coaches’ fault. Neither side did the job when we’re 2-14. With these guys stepping into a new scheme, they may be great. The scheme might take care of it.”
It seems odd that players who can rush the quarterback are so highly coveted by teams but so many of the better ones slip through the cracks. Harrison was one and Jared Allen, taken in the fourth round is another.
I’ve been leading the charge for the Chiefs to take whoever is at the top of their draft board instead of just going for the best pass rusher. If the team was on the verge of a Super Bowl and they had everything but someone to rush the passer then I might be more willing to draft for need instead of the best player available. But with so many holes to fill they can’t afford to reach with their first pick, no matter where that choice ends up being.
This weekend’s mini-camp was also used as a chance to put a handful of players through tryouts with the Chiefs reports Bob Gretz.
The Chiefs had a pair of kickers in for the camp, Carlos Martinez — who we mentioned last week — and Mark Myers. Both kickers have had cups of coffee in the NFL, with Martinez having kicked in the Arena League and Myers in Canada.
Also in for workouts over the weekend, but not taking part in the camp, were veteran receiver Marty Booker and tight ends Sean Ryan and Tony Curtis. Todd Haley previously coached all three players. Booker was with the Bears last year, Ryan with the 49ers and Curtis was in Dallas.
We haven’t even been through the draft yet and the Chiefs seem pretty full when it comes to fringe wide receivers and that’s exactly where Marty Booker would fall under. If Tony Gonzalez is traded then you could see a guy like Ryan or Curtis catch on here but otherwise I think the team is set with Brad Cottam behind TG.
The Kansas City Star today is reporting quarterback Tyler Thigpen is “not OK” with being demoted to backup after the Chiefs acquired Matt Cassell from New England, but he said he’s willing to trust the coaches’ judgement and hopes he’ll get a chance at the starting job.
Cassel worked with the first team offense during this weekend’s mini-camp while Thigpen managed the second unit. He might not be OK, but Thigpen sounds like he’s dealing with the situation:
“Everything happens for a reason. You may not see the reason right now, but I know there’s a reason that they brought a guy in like Matt. I’m behind him, and all I’m doing is pushing him, making him better. Hopefully me doing that is going to make this team better.”
Thigpen said after the Chiefs’ final game he thought he had done enough to begin the 2009 season as the team’s starting quarterback. Haley hasn’t officially designated Cassel as the starter but all signs have indicated the job his his to lose.
As much as I hope Thigpen gets a real shot to compete for the job, it would be naive for anyone to actually think this job is open. It doesn’t matter that the media has treated Cassel as the starter, but when the team does you have to see the writing on the wall. Scott Pioli didn’t bring his guy in for a second round pick and a fat contract to put him on the bench.