In reacting to Pioli’s draft this year for the Chiefs, now that I have had some time to reflect, I am reminded of the extensive debate we have had over the draft this season on this blog. Some of us, mainly me, argued specifically for Clausen as the Chiefs best option. Others, mainly everyone else, argued in favor of NT Dan Williams or any assortment of offensive line help. While these were debates over specific players, at their core was a basic fundamental difference in how to build a football team. My philosophy is that you start with the quarterback and you build around him. Others have the classic Chiefs philosophy of building from the trenches out. Much as I favor my point of view, I think both sides have merits and reason to them.
Well, I think the joke is on all of us, because in this draft, Pioli did neither. More after the jump.
Matter of fact, if there is any central philosophy guiding his selections, you would not be able to tell from this draft.
It is not my job to carry water for this administration. I know the natural inclination of loyal Chiefs fan is to support whatever decisions the team makes, however mind boggling. Grazing the polls from AA and other Chiefs blogs, they have a way of supporting even the most questionable selections. Even the lead writers for these blogs do the same. But we are not mandated to do so and I don’t. I can’t. It would probably lower my blood pressure if I did, but then these weird, inexplicable darts-at-a-dartboard maneuvers will simply continue without recourse. At a certain point, you have to take your gaze off the silver lining and notice the enormous black cloud that it surrounds.
That said, I am loving some of these players. We all love Berry. Sheffeld is a good depth move for pass rushing. Asamoah is a fire truck. McCluster is going to be fun to watch to say the least. And Arenas’ first return will be the most exciting moment of the preseason. There is a lot to like.
But, in one of the deepest drafts in history, with all of the opportunities to move to trade down and all the young talent we have that is tradable and the colossal laundry list of needs that this team has, this was a massive, wasted opportunity. We ended up with 7 selections when most teams were able to accumulate much more. Either of our seconds and our third could have multiplied the picks we could have used to restock this team. But nothing. No moves. Well, there was one, but it involved losing two selections to pick up a player with an ugly injury history.
And that’s the thing. Staying put and taking where you are slotted is perfectly fine if you make the most of those picks. Our “2a” pick was essentially a first rounder, especially as all of that wonderful talent dropped out of the first. That pick needs to be a key foundation of our team for 10 years. It needs to be a player that demands attention from opposing teams. It needs to be a player that other teams must invest their concentration and resources upon to try to control. It needs to be a game changer. McCluster possesses skills that we have seen before in players like Dante Hall and Devin Hester. These players could change games, and did a few times. But I am talking about a foundational player that fundamentally changes how teams play you. Teams made tweaks for Dante Hall, but they changed their game for serious pass rushers and true downfield threats.
McCluster is a gadget, a luxury pick that a team with few needs can burn, but a team with nothing but needs should pass over for a foundational player. Arenas is a kick returner and a nickel back, whose specialty is the corner blitz. Another luxury pick. I have nothing against Asamoah, I think he is a good get, but not when the position is already filled. Another luxury pick. Tight ends are by their nature luxury picks except in the rare circumstances of Gonzales and Gates.
You can build a foundation to a team in a couple of legitimate ways, sort of like tributaries can often lead to the same lake. But you don’t build a team with luxury picks. You don’t build an offense on end-a-round and wildcat formations. Special teams can win you a game or two but touchdown returns are an extremely unreliable phenomenon and are not worth a second round pick; 2a, 2b, or 2z!
Foundations are very difficult to build. You need quarterbacks, receivers, defensive linemen, and pass rushers. The common strain here is that (a.) they are the most important positions, and (b.) they take the longest to develop. You add the doodads later. This is a posting of quiet rage. I like these players, but I hate these picks.
I will be watching in my Bowe jersey and will savor every victory. But the What If machine in my head has officially been activated.