"Hey Tyson, Matt Finucane, Arrowhead Addict. So how fat do you plan on getting next year?"

Big Matt's Chiefs Chat: In Pioli We Trust?

My initial intention was to give Pioli a grade like everyone else. However, I quickly realized any letter I assigned him would be completely arbitrary. As I’ve said, I’m inclined to give him more credit than Todd Haley for our turnaround. But that’s more a reflection of my feelings on Haley than Pioli. Haley may turn out to be a good coach, but a master architect he is most definitely not. If he were in charge his first order of business would probably be to extend Thom Jones’ contract.

People have been heaping praise on Scott Pioli from the second he got here.  He was immediately declared a personnel genius.  His drafting, which none of us knew anything about beforehand, was proclaimed a specialty.  His approval rating on Arrowheadpride has always been ridiculously high.  Hell, on this very site last week one of our commenters said Pioli “won 3 Super Bowls.” 

It’s hard for me to know which way to lean on this.  On a personal level, I don’t like Pioli.  The secrecy, the arrogance, The Patriot Way, it all rubs me wrong.  And yet here we are, back to respectability just 2 years after Herm and Carl (The Lie Guys) did their best to flush our reputation down the turlet.  Surely someone deserves credit for that.  If not Pioli, I’m having a hard time thinking of who that someone should be. 

more after the jump:

It’s hard to accurately evaluate a guy who keeps to the shadows.  Last year I assumed Pioli wasn’t giving interviews because he was embarrassed at how bad we were.  But he behaved exactly the same way this year, so it appears I was wrong about that.  In any case, its impossible for a fan to judge a GM who shrouds himself in secrecy.  Not after two years, anyway.  I can’t give Pioli a grade.  It would be meaningless.

What I can do is talk about his drafting.  This was the part of his game that was supposed to be the strongest, and also the part that leaves the least to the imagination.  We know who we picked, we know how they did.  It may be early, but that doesn’t mean we have to cross our arms and shut our eyes.  Contrary to what years of bad pick spin would have us believe, you don’t actually have to wait a decade to evaluate a draft class. 

We’ll start with 2009.  Simply put, that was a terrible, terrible draft by Pioli.  Yes, it looks to be a fairly weak class, but I can’t imagine any team came away from that draft with less talent than we did.  And I am most definitely NOT buying into the “he didn’t have time!” nonsense you occasionally hear these days.  Nobody (including him) was saying that until after it was apparent he’d screwed the pooch.  Now its that he couldn’t get his people in, didn’t have time to scout, everything was such a whirlwind!  Hogwash.  The guy was working for another NFL team preparing for the exact same draft before we hired him.  And really, how long does it take to figure out Tyson Jackson isn’t the answer?  Everyone besides Pioli knew that was a bad pick the second it was made.

And make no mistake, Tin Man was an awful pick.  Pioli’s attempt to act like everything is going according to plan with him is laughable.  Tin Man was picked because he looks like a 3-4 end, plain and simple.  That pick was every bit as embarrassing as Derrius Heyward-Bey.  And they actually came from a pretty similar place.  Pioli wanted a tall block-eater, Al Davis wanted a guy who runs fast.  Both got caught up in superficial attributes and paid dearly for it.

As for the rest of the picks, what is there to say?  Donnie Wash stinks, Quinten “core” Lawrence couldn’t beat out Terry Copper and Alex Magee was traded for a fart in the face.  Succop is the valedictorian, and that’s just sad.  I still think the Cassel trade was a very good one, but in terms of picks made, I don’t see how you can give Pioli anything other than an F for 2009.  And lets not forget his “don’t go anywhere” statement after he picked Jackson or his “nobody was calling” line after the draft.  Those might be the two lamest soundbites in Chiefs history…..if you discount everything Herm Edwards ever said.

Of course, 2010 was a different story.  Eric Berry was a homerun and Tony Moeaki and Kendrick Lewis were steals.  Jon Asamoah should be a future building block.  Say what you will about the second round (and I’ll definitely say some things), this was a very good draft class.

As good as the hype made it out to be?  That’s another story.  After the draft a few experts praised our class.  Beast Nation* ran with it, acting like every pick was a pre-ordained slam-dunk (the McCluster hype in particular was out of control).  I’d read a headline like “praise for 2010 draft class keeps pouring in!” and it would be one quote from Mike Mayock.  The local draft coverage, particularly in the blogosphere, was hopelessly biased.  It still is.  Hardly surprising.

*Beast nation is my name for the legions of blind homers running rampant in Kansas City.  The people who refuse to listen to anything that doesn’t equate to “The Chiefs are awesome, everything they do is perfect.”  You know, the “Tank Tyler is a beast” crowd.  They really like the word beast.  Hence the name.

An honest look at the 2010 class does indeed reveal a ton of upside.  And not just upside, some of these guys are damn good right now.  Those who disliked the Berry pick have to either admit they were wrong or sacrifice future credibility.  Those who disliked the second round?  Take a bow, gang, because it looks like maybe you were right.

I was furious after the second round came to a close.  Those seemed like stupid, naive picks to me.  A nickel-back and a gimmick player?  With the holes we had?  And we’re supposed to give them both extra credit for being kick returners?  The whole thing reeked. 

I was worried McCluster’s impact would be limited, Arenas would amount to nothing more than a backup and our newly acquired wealth of kick returners would be a hollow reward.  Were any of those worries unfounded?  It’s obviously too early to give up on these guys, and in fact they both looked good at times.  But in terms of value, those picks clearly weren’t maximized. 

Conclusion?  I guess there isn’t one.  One bad class and one good one, both with possible caveats (or excuses).  We’ve been saying 2010 is make-or-break for Todd Haley, but in my eyes Pioli is definitely on trial too.  This draft will tip the scales one way or another.  I’m starting to come around on Pioli, and my guess is he’ll make some good picks.  But I just don’t know with this guy.  If he picks another kick returner or block eater I’m going to be very upset.

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Tags: Dexter McCluster Eric Berry Scott Pioli Tyson Jackson

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