Merlin's Magic: Draft Philosophy Edition

On the last week before the draft, it’s time to talk draft philosophy. This has been an odd draft season on Arrowhead Addict. There has been relatively little discussion on the best athlete versus best player available philosophies. So, some review is in order. The correct approach is a blend of both ideas. Generally, players are lumped together with similar grades. You want to get one of those players that fit your team best at an area of need.

Looking at the Scouts Inc. rankings as posted on ESPN, let’s look at the set of possible players we can take at #3. The ranking system is out of 100 points. Curry (OLB) and Crabtree (WR) carry the highest grades of 97. J. Smith (OT), Orakpo (DE) and Monroe (OT) have grades of 96. Maybin (DE), Raji (DT) and Stafford (QB) are graded at 95. Since eight players have grades of 95 or better, 95 is probably your minimum score for the #3 pick in the draft. Keep in mind that each team may have these players with different grades, but let’s work with the set we have here as an illustration.

Going through the Chiefs positional needs, Stafford is the first player to be removed from the list. We have no need to draft a QB in round one. We are looking pretty decent with Tank Tyler as the NT type in the 4-3 under defense we are running this year. So, Raji falls out. With Bowe and Tony G as pass catchers, we really don’t have a huge need to draft a WR. So, Crabtree is stricken from the list. We need a pass rushing threat and we only have one good young o-lineman, so the other players (Curry, J. Smith, Orakpo, Monroe and Maybin) stay on the list for now.

Pioli is a GM that has a pretty strong template for type of players he wants on his team. At a high level, I reviewed this in the past. In a nutshell, he wants smart, high character, high motor players that are very, very dedicated to football. When you look at a scouting report on a player and you see that a player takes plays off, fails a drug test or gets suspended you can remove him from your list. Looking through scouting reports on the players left, Curry and Orakpo jump off the page at me as being the smart, dedicated players we may be looking for. Smith and Monroe are great talents, just a notch below those two and Maybin seems more like a project than a complete player at this point in time. Other services have Maybin listed in the teens on their big board. I am going to drop him from our example. The ESPN rankings may be an outlier.

The final piece of the puzzle is positional value. Not all positions are worthy of a top five pick. Long time readers may remember my mantra for the most important positions on the football field. They are, once again, be the QB, protect the QB (left tackle) and kill the QB (pass rusher). These are not the only positions worthy of a top five pick, but they are the most important (the other positions would be RB, WR, DT, CB). We have a QB, so the QB need doesn’t apply to us. We have a good left tackle, but Albert could play either guard position and perhaps right tackle. Since we are weak at center and RT, the tackle need is viable, but it is not a huge need. The pass rusher need is huge and is the obvious choice for our first pick. Let’s take a look at our remaining four players in terms of positional value.

Aaron Curry is a fine overall LB prospect. The best available in the draft for the past several years. He played in a 4-3 system in college, so it is a projection to evaluate his value in a 3-4 defense. Specifically, can he function well as a pass rusher? He has the skills, but he wasn’t asked to do that in college. This is the key question of the draft. If Pioli and Haley believe that Curry will be an elite pass rusher in the NFL, this is the obvious pick.

Brian Orakpo suffers from a similar problem. He projects well as a 4-3 DE. He should be able to play the ‘predator’ designated pass rusher in the 4-3 under. However, if the 4-3 under is a temporary alignment as we transition to a pure 3-4, is he lost as a glorified DT as a 3-4 end or can he make the transition to an OLB? Again, projection becomes an issue.

Jason Smith is a smart OT that could be a very good Chief. He played in a spread offense, so with him you have to project his effectiveness as a run blocker.

Eugene Monroe is another fine tackle. He has some minor injury concerns and the knock on him is the lack of a killer instinct. He does have good tape as a run blocker and a pass blocker.

Going through the players in our example, Monroe is the player who requires the least projection. All the other players have questions that need to be answered. How the Chiefs project those players into their system will determine how the Chiefs rank those players.

In a few days, I will drop my article on how I would stack and run the board for our first round pick. That is always good for some fun discussion. Before anyone asks, no the Crabtree Chubby Club can’t get a seat at the table.

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