Behold! It’s the time of year when every draft pick is a future repeat Pro Bowler. It’s a unique point in the life of a rookie player. A Brandon Carr can be magically transformed into the next Dale Carter. Through the magic of a first name in common, Derrick Johnson can prematurely be crowned the reincarnation of Derrick Thomas. Tre Stallings is the next Will Shields, and Brian Johnston is the next Jared Allen.
Congruences are sought out by necessity. Fans don’t have the time or the resources to make qualitative analyses of every player available (the ones who claim they have are lying through their teeth). Opinions are based on stat sheets, talking heads, and fan-assembled youtube highlight reels. Thus, from April to August, followers fantasize about what may or may not come to pass in autumn, and while intellectually aware that most draft picks don’t pan out, it’s impossible not to dream a little bit.
Bearing that in mind, I now offer you my ill informed, premature opinion of the Kansas City Chiefs’ 2010 draft.
Nobody ever accused Gunther Cunningham a draft genius. Nobody should accuse Scott Pioli of being one either. Pioli presided over some of the worst drafts in Patriots history. His 2000 draft is considered by many to be a success based solely on the fact that he secured franchise quarterback and Matt Damon stunt double Tom Brady in the 6th round. What that draft’s proponents fail to ignore is that its second most successful player was 7th round fullback Patrick Pass, and that his two first day selections gave him a combined total 15 starts. To put that in perspective, Gunther’s three first day picks from the same year gave Kansas City a combined total of 148 starts, and one of those three was a coulda-been whose career was cut dramatically short by a busted knee that never healed.
I never hesitate my fondness for how and who the Steelers draft. Pittsburgh’s four first day picks in 2000 gave them 208 starts, then soldiered on to give their subsequent teams 203 more. All but one – Pro Bowl left tackle Marvel Smith – is still an active player. In 10 years they’ve produced two duds in the first three rounds – linebackers Alonzo Jackson and Bruce Davis. Even Ricardo Colclough can’t be deemed a complete failure, given that he gave them two solid years as a kick returner. Their ability to consistently produce has kept them at the top of the heap, and year after year the foundation of their team is built on guys drafted in the four or five years prior.
Meanwhile, the Patriots, who looked to be the new dynasty for several years of the past decade, are slowly unraveling. Their last five drafts have yielded four starters: Brandon Meriweather, Jerrod Mayo, Logan Mankins, and Nick Kaczur. They’re on the cusp of being non-competitive in a division that, for several years, has been non-competitive.
The guy who made that possible is now our guy.
Back when Boston could do no wrong in the eyes of the sports world, Pioli’s drafts were lovingly characterized as “drafting for depth.” That’s a clever euphemism for “took a bunch of guys who are gonna suck.” There’s something different about this draft. Maybe it’s the influence of Todd Haley. Maybe Todd acquired some of that Pittsburgh drafting prowess from his dear old dad. Or, perhaps, maybe Pioli just looked at the roster and realized that for the first time since he left Cleveland in 1996, he wasn’t working with a winning cast.
Either way, this wasn’t a draft for depth. Twice during Pioli’s tenure in New England the team traded down into eight picks in rounds 4 through 7, and twice more down to seven late rounders. Never in his career has he parlayed his way into five high round picks. Then again, by the same token, never in his career has he so badly needed to pick high early and often. I’ll be the first to say that a couple of the picks don’t make sense to me, but there weren’t any What The Hell picks Ã¡ la DaJuan Morgan or Kris Wilson. None of these players are questionable to make the roster. They’re direct replacements for the following: Mike Brown, Bobby Wade, Maurice Leggett, Wade Smith, Jake O’Connell, DaJuan Morgan, and possibly Mike Vrabel. Aside from Leggett, I can’t picture myself missing anybody off that list.
This group was selected to rack up touchdowns, make interceptions, and to return kicks to the 40 yard line.
When I think back over the last three years, what this team has been missing is touchdowns, interceptions, and kicks returned to the 40 yard line.
Call me crazy, but this business of hiring guys to rack up touchdowns, make interceptions, and return kicks to the 40 yard line… Well… I think it might work.