Pre-Draft Q&A: Scott Pioli

With the draft less than a week away, Kansas City Chiefs GM met with the media for half an hour to talk about all things draft related.  Here are some of the highlights:

Do you believe that there are any positions that you can’t take with the number five pick?

“No, I don’t.  Other than kicker, I think I’d probably leave that position alone at number five.  It’s a broader question that really comes down to or has something to do with economics and I think that’s what a lot of the discussion is that’s out there when people talk about what positions are acceptable, what positions aren’t acceptable.  What we’re concerned about at five this year, which is where we’re at right now, as we were last year is finding a good player that’s the right player.  I think the question you’re asking is ‘Can you take a certain player at a certain position at that spot.’ And there’s the economic question that has to do with what the general salaries are for players at different position, but Nick, I think there is also something else that has to be taken into consideration and I will always take into consideration which is that is a position that there will be a great deal of financial resources that are given to the player at that spot.  So the type of person and the person that you’re picking at that spot is exceedingly important.  I don’t know if it’s a matter of the position as it is the person that you’re taking when you’re high up in the draft because there is a commitment the club has to make.”

When you look at the financial commitment, do you look at the financial commitments that you already have for players in that position or group of players?

“It’s absolutely something you have to take into account.  Generally speaking, depending on the phase that your organization is in, there are different times where you say the philosophy we want to have from a model standpoint is that we want to put this amount into certain skill positions and this into non-skill positions or this into the offensive line.  You set the model and you head in that direction but inevitably what happens is if you have a team that improves, sometimes players that are key players and key contributors tend to screw that model up, in a good way.  That’s a good problem to have.  What happens then is you have to go through and find a way to make it all fit.  You set out with a model, it’s just like any business, here’s the model – here’s how we want to do things, but different dynamics affect it in different ways and that’s the beauty of building a roster of 53 players is at different times and different parts of a player’s career, their earning potential is different or what they’re earning is different and that impacts what’s happening positionally.  You start out with a model and based on how your team evolves, you have to react to that because if you stay entrenched in one way of doing things, you potentially set yourself up for failure.”

On taking a boom-or-bust type player at No. 5:

“By nature I’m not much of a risk-taker, if that’s the question.  I don’t like to, and there are people who have been very successful being risk-takers.  Personally, that’s really not in my makeup.  I think that has something to do with it, as well.  I’m not crazy about the boom-or-bust concept – understanding that there has certainly been times in the past where I’ve done that and been a part of it, not generally in a place where you’re going to expose your club or the entire organization to something that has the potential for too big of a bust.”

How do you feel about last year’s draft?

“I think we still feel very good about the draft last year.  It is one year later, we are expecting improvement from all of those players.  I think we saw improvement from all of those players through the course of the season.  We are seeing things that are very encouraging in the off-season program.  Some of that has to do with those players and their expectations.  They know what to expect now and when people have an idea of what to expect, I think it gives them an opportunity to perform better.  We can already see the bodies of these guys changing.  We are all expecting improvement; they are all expecting improvement from where they were last year.”

You had said that DE Tyson Jackson had a little bit of learning to do.  Having said that, are you satisfied with his performance last season?

“I’m not so sure we talked about the individuals specifically as we were more talking about the position.  I think I said some of the same things about DE Alex Magee.  Based on experience, the defensive line position is one of those positions that you do a better job in the second season than you do in the first season.  Again, Tyson is obviously a part of that and so is Alex Magee and Glenn the year before, even though I wasn’t a part of that draft.  I think everyone was able to see a pretty significant improvement in the play of Glenn Dorsey in his second year.  I am making that statement because I have had that experience with DE Richard Seymour.  His first year was ok.  Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, all of those players were eventually very good players who had some difficulty in that first season.  Yes, it specifically has to do with the player but it is more big picture regarding position.”

There has been some discussion of DE Glenn Dorsey possibly playing nose tackle.  Is there any truth to that?

“I think Glenn is a unique player.  He has the physical skill and body type to play numerous positions.  I think what we will do, like we do with a lot of other positions is, we are going to collect as many good players as we can and then the players themselves will sort out who are going to be the best ones on the field.  Like you do with the offensive lineman, you get the five best players on the field. Glenn can do a lot of different things.”

Do you feel like drafting players is your biggest strength?

“I don’t know what my reputation is, but this is what I do.  It is my job to evaluate players, not only on the field, but who they are, which is an important part.  I believe that player personnel is not only the evaluation of the skill-set and playing ability, but is the makeup of the player and who the player is as well as trying to determine his fit.   I am sure you are all tired of me talking about the right 53 but it is a core belief of mine and it was a core belief of some of the teams I have seen win championships at every level, whether it is pro football, college football or high school football.”

Do you have a general feel going into the draft how things will go?

“I just think typically I don’t get antsy.  I can’t control certain things that happen so to waste energy or emotion on things I can’t control (is not worth it).  We have a plan, we have an idea.  If people jump ahead of us and take a player that we were considering or contemplating, the more time and energy you spend worrying about that or being upset about that is time and energy it sucks away from you to make a good decision or making a smart decision.  Again, you go through those scenarios and that is part of the reason I like to keep a very small group of people in the draft room on draft day because I have been in some draft rooms and heard stories of different things happening and I don’t want people in there that can’t control their emotions or their thoughts.  It needs to be a thoughtful time, not a reactionary time.”

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