Kansas City Chiefs GM Scott Pioli has received quite a bit of praise for the success his 2010 draft class, however he has also received some criticism of his 2009 class and in particular his first pick that year in DE Tyson Jackson.
Pioli took Jackson as the 3rd overall pick in 2009 and the lineman out of LSU has been underwhelming to say the least in his first two seasons. He recorded only 38 tackles and no sacks in his rookie year as a starter. In 2010, Jackson suffered from an early injury and lost his starting spot to Shaun Smith. The two worked in a sort of platoon when Jackson came back from his injury, though Smith continued to start and get the bulk of the playing time. Jackson showed only slight improvement down the stretch and is viewed by many to be nothing more than a very expensive reserve.
Scott Pioli is down at the Senior Bowl to scout this year’s prospects and he, along with Atlanta Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff, sat down with the folks at NFL Network to talk about what they are looking for this weekend. Dimitroff and Pioli both come from the New England Patriots and is well known that they are close friends and that their organizations follow the same philosophy in selecting players.
The two were asked about their very first picks as GM’s. For Dimitroff it was QB Matt Ryan and for Pioli, it was Jackson.
“He was a player that we felt could fit the scheme that we wanted to run,” said Pioli when asked about picking Jackson, a 5 technique lineman, so high. “ We knew he could be the left defensive end of the future and one of the things that we looked at with this player in particular was that we knew that he was not a big flash guy, that he was not going to have a lot of sacks…we didn’t think…we just knew that we needed a cornerstone defensive lineman that could play the position, play the technique the way that we wanted to.”
While the pick may have been a bit of a reach, it is understandable that Pioli wanted a cornerstone lineman. The Chiefs were switching from a 4-3 to a 3-4 and they desperately needed personnel to fit the new scheme.
However, after two years, Jackson is not looking like the cornerstone player Pioli hope he would become. In fact, he looks like he is on the first train to Bustsville.
The rumors coming out of Kansas City, and we can only call them rumors at this point as there has been no proof offered up other than anonymous sources, is that the Chiefs think Jackson is lazy and unmotivated. That certainly doesn’t sound like the kind of player the Chiefs usually gun for. Pioli, however, gave no indication that the organization has any problem with Jackson’s development. Quite the contrary actuall. Pioli seemed to indicate that Jackson is coming along just as he hoped.
“It was a couple of conversations that I had with some former coaches and some other people in terms of whop would be the right kind of player and who could do the right kind of things…so far he’s fit in really well and done the things we want to do,” said Pioli.
“Now that we’re running this particular defense that we were gonna evolve to with Romeo Crennel running the system, he’s starting to make his mark.”
Umm what mark? The only mark I’ve seen Tyson Jackson make is a skid mark when he is getting pushed around by offensive linemen.
Look, I don’t expect Pioli to come out on national TV* and declare that Tyson Jackson was a huge, both figuratively and literally, waste of a draft pick. That being said, I also don’t expect Chiefs Nation to buy the crap that it is Pioli’s job to sell to it. The fact of the matter is, right now, Jackson pretty much stinks. That isn’t to say that he is going to continue to stink. He may decide to take a bath this offseason, get in shape and start putting his natural talents to work. Glenn Dorsey managed to shed the bust label and turn himself into a decent defensive lineman in a scheme that is totally wrong for him so who am to say Jackson won’t suddenly start to excel in a system that he actually DOES fit?
*Can NFL Network actually be considered national TV? I live in New York City and I can’t get it and you can get everything in NYC. Just last night, Big Matt was telling me he got crabs just from sitting on the subway. Gotta love this city. You can get anything, anywhere at any time.
I am one of those that believe that you have to give players about 3 years to develop before you cut them lose. There are simply too many examples throughout the NFL of guys who started out as rubbish and grew into Pro Bowl players. Coaching, player maturity and scheme all come into play as a player grows in the NFL.
What situations like Tyson Jackson’s does prove his the obvious need for a rookie wage scale. If Jackson wasn’t getting paid so much already, he might actually be motivated to improve so that when his contract is up he can get paid. Right now, however, he has less motivation to get better because if he managed his money well he is already set for life.
Picks like Jackson also eat up money that could be going to better players at certain position groups. NFL teams often decide to allocate certain amounts of money to certain positions groups. Obviously most teams set aside a lot more money for the QB position than the K position. With two high priced lineman like Dorsey and Jackson eating up all the defensive line money, it may very well explain why the Chiefs were reluctant to draft a nose tackle high in last year’s draft. That thinking could carry over into this year’s draft as well. Don’t be surprised if Pioli is looking for a value NT in the late rounds or through free agency…if there is free agency.