The Blueprint 3: The Hard Call


After two previous editions of “The Blueprint,” here is the scenario I laid out for “The Blueprint 3.” Keep in mind that trades are very hard to pull off in the top five, so a no-trade stipulation is also part of the scenario:

Team 1st Round

Miami Logo

1. Miami Dolphins – OT Jake Long, Michigan
St. Louis Rams Draft Logo 2. St. Louis Rams – DT Glenn Dorsey, LSU
Atlanta Falcons Draft Logo 3. Atlanta Falcons – QB Matt Ryan, Boston College

Oakland Raiders Draft Logo

4. Oakland Raiders – DT Sedrick Ellis, USC

Kansas City Chiefs Draft Logo

5. Kansas City Chiefs – RB Darren McFadden, Arkansas

Now, some of you have suggested that this scenario is simply an exercise and is all but impossible. Not true. Judging from both the draft’s recent past and the needs of the top four teams, this could be one of the wildest drafts yet…

Not too long ago, Glenn Dorsey was the trendy pick for the Dolphins, not Chris Long. And after Jake Long‘s monster NFL Combine performance, who’s to say he’s not the top guy on The Tuna’s Big Board at this point? After all, the Dolphins offensive line was an absolute albatross of a unit last year. What about Dorsey once again now that he’s basically put those injury issues to bed? He could go first as well. Most scouts believe those two players to be the best bets in the draft, so let’s assume they go one-two, regardless of order, in the draft. The pundits in the STL are clamoring for Dorsey, too, so this isn’t at all farfetched. Again, the Rams have met with both players.

That leaves the Falcons sitting there at three with Matt Ryan likely atop their board. I think the Falcons would probably take Dorsey or Long ahead of Ryan if they fell, at least that’s what I’ve read and heard, but Ryan is the guy if they are both gone. The Falcons would have the chance to completely change the face of their franchise with Michael Turner and Ryan, and in the post-Vick era where attendance is lacking that is definitely something owner Arthur Blank will want to do. Because of how many early picks the Falcons have, I do not see them trading the third pick. Their franchise desperately needs to walk away from the draft with a new star.

Next, here comes the Raiders. I laugh a little when either fans or pundits claim they know what the Raiders will do for sure. I doubt Al Davis himself can even predict what he’s going to do only hours prior to the draft. Two years ago they absolutely reached on Michael Huff, passing on Jay Cutler and Matt Leinart. Last year they screwed up royally again. They should have drafted Megatron, kept Randy Moss, left Dominic Rhodes and Mike Williams in the scrap heap and signed Daunte Culpepper. This is the franchise that spent a zillion bucks on DeAngelo Hall after franchise tagging Nnamdi Asomugha. Don’t tell me they won’t take a long hard look at Sedrick Ellis with Lane Kiffin’s USC ties and Warren Sapp’s retirement, just because of Tommy Kelly.

The Raiders obviously aren’t logical. Could they pick Darren McFadden even with Justin Fargas, Michael Bush and 70 other running backs? Sure. What about Chris Long, Howie’s son, even though they are stocked at defensive end? You bet. But don’t tell me there’s no way they’ll take Ellis. Hell, the Raiders could take just about anybody. The Silver and Black are unconventional. If I know anything, I at least definitely know that.

We’re finally to the Chiefs‘ pick, which is a good thing considering that this is a Chiefs site. Since there are seven elite players in this draft, four already taken under this scenario, that means we have our choice of three players: Chris Long, Darren McFadden or Vernon Gholsten. When you finish 4-12 you need to walk away from that season with a star. That’s the only possible silver lining from the agony both the Chiefs’ franchise and its fans went through during the 2007 season. Reaching would be a ginormous mistake.

So, which player should it be: Gholsten, Long or McFadden?

Without any hesitation, I say Run DMC. He’s sitting atop Mel Kiper’s Big Board for a reason–a playmaker like him comes along once a year, if that. He might not be quite as good as Adrian Peterson, but he’s more versatile. He might not have the hype that Reggie Bush had coming out of Southern Cal, but I believe he’s the better all-around player. And look at what both Purple Jesus and Reg did for their respective teams as rookies. The Saints went from the worst team in the NFL to the NFC Championship game. The Vikings went .500 and damn near made the playoffs despite having the worst quarterback situation in the league.

The keys to those resurgences? A dynamically versatile rushing attack.

I hear the argument about how stout the Vikings’ line was last year, but what about the Saints’ offensive line? The Vikings don’t have Dwayne Bowe or Tony Gonzalez to open things up either. Besides, once again, we can get a good offensive tackle like Sam Baker in round two. Having two running talented running backs–think thunder and lightning–is the wave of the future. Think Jacksonville. Fred Taylor is the bruiser who softens them up, Maurice Jones-Drew is the slasher who comes in and cuts defenses up once they’re weakened. It’s a perfect one-two punch that allows David Garrard to play safe, ball-control football. It’s worked for Garrard and Jags’ offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, I’m pretty sure it would work for Brodie Croyle and Chan Gailey.

As I’ve said before, McFadden can play on third down, he can take a couple of series or half-series each game, we can line him up wide, we can play him and Larry Johnson in the same backfield, he can return kicks, etc…he would get 15 touches a game, dangerous touches at that. Meanwhile, he would protect our biggest investment by keeping the mileage on L.J.’s odometer low. Kolby Smith is a nice back-up or part-time back, but you lose a lot when L.J. steps off the field and he steps on it. Besides, I still think Kolby has a future playing some fullback, a la Kimble Anders. The addition of McFadden would essentially cause there to be no drop off between our top two backs, while keeping both fresh all the time. That paired with the versatility the duo would provide would make the rest of the offense–from Brodie to the bigs up front–better all the time.

As for drafting one of the defensive ends, it just doesn’t make sense. First off, Jared Allen isn’t going anywhere, just like L.J. before him. He’s twice as popular as L.J., and he’s the second best free agent out there. Only Randy Moss was a better option this offseason, and even that’s debatable. We’re not going to let him slip through our fingers. Second, Tamba Hali struggles to some degree with the run and doesn’t have the size to move inside. Third, Turk McBride is more suited to play DE first, pass-rushing DT second, not the other way around. Think Justin Tuck. All that being said, we are stocked at the DE position. Defensive tackles we can use. Defensive ends? Can’t get ‘em on the field enough to warrant the pick.

Then there’s the thought about playing Gholsten at outside linebacker, or even Long. Really? When we have Derrick Johnson and Donnie Edwards already performing well outside, not to mention us just adding Demorrio Williams.

Gholsten or Long in Red and Gold just doesn’t make sense.

The other thing I want to address is the king-of-wishful-thinking “blueprint” of most Chiefs fans. You know what I’m talking about, the thought prayer that Jake Long will fall to five in round one and Brian Brohm will fall to 36 in round two. Let’s end that pipe dream right now–not going to happen. I think that’s why so many Chiefs fans like Brohm, because they think they can get a similar player to Matt Ryan 30 picks later. Well, he’s not as good, and he’s not going to be there. If Long miraculously slips, Brohm still will not be there. I actually fully expect him to eventually rise back into the first round. Somebody is going to trade up and get him. With all our holes are we really going to trade up into the first to get him when Chad Henne and Joe Flacco will still be around later, or even super project Josh Johnson. I highly doubt it.

We also can’t just count on trading down. Any Chiefs fan automatically assuming that we definitely can will likely end up discouraged on draft day. Teams just don’t trade up into the top ten very often, mostly because of the cost–both salary cap-wise and draft pick-wise.

That’s why I came up with “The Blueprint” series. I devised this series to give us alternative looks, because the draft never shapes up quite the way we want it to. If we look at all the scenarios, then we won’t be disappointed, or as disappointed at least. Plus, from my perspective I want to keep floating out there that the Chiefs have to walk away with one of the non-defensive end elites from this draft. We can’t reach. We would pay handsomely for that mistake, and for a long time. Even if the Chiefs don’t read or listen to anyone, at least I’ll sleep easier at night knowing I wrote what needed to be said.

What a mouthful, or a blogful, whatever. At this point let’s recap the series:

The Blueprint:

  • First Round: DT Sedrick Ellis
  • Second Round: Best OT Available
  • Second Round Via Trade: Best QB Available

The Blueprint 2:

  • First Round: QB Matt Ryan
  • Second Round: Best OT Available

The Blueprint 3:

  • First Round: RB/RS Darren McFadden
  • Second Round: Best OT Available
  • Second-Third Round: Best QB Available

All three have a common set of rules, which I’ll outline now:

  1. If Jake Long is gone, don’t reach on the next best tackle. Wait until round two when at least a few of the eight great OT prospects will still be there.
  2. Walk away with one of the five non-defensive end elites.
  3. Pick an offensive tackle no later than round two. Pick a QB no later than round three, even if you have to trade up into round two or three to get him. The Chiefs future demands an insurence policy on Brodie Croyle.
  4. CB, G and WR will be there later in the draft.

If we follow those rules, I guaran-damn-tee that we’ll have a fantastic draft.

What are your “Blueprints,” Chiefs fans? Use the comment section to let us know by mapping out your own favorite draft-day scenarios. We’ll feature the best in our “The Blueprint: Fan Edition.”

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