When one looks at the Chiefs 3 or 4 biggest needs, specifically NT, WR, C, and SOLB (strongside OLB), it seems fairly clear that filling one of these positions needs to be an outcome of the first round. In fulfilling such an objective, one needs to balance first round bust probability against the likelihood that the player selected will make a near immediate, positive impact towards team success.
I’ll explain how that functions in this particular case right after the jump.
First off, taking a WR in the 1st round is a huge risk which is why you’ll find very few teams still willing to do it (except for, of course, teams like the Raiders and Lions – I digress). First round C’s and 34 SOLB’s, while certainly not as big a risk as 1st round WRs nevertheless do tend to have a lower likelihood of fulfilling the elusive immediate impact goal than do say quality WRs and quality NT’s. For one thing, there is a lot to playing the 34 SOLB position in the NFL and most 34 SOLB’s encounter a steep learning curve before they excel in their role – in other words, the likelihood of an SOLB making an immediate impact is fairly low.
With a quality zero-technique NT however, you can pretty much plug him right in from the get go. What that means is that your bust risk factor drops dramatically compared to the other two/three positions while your impact factor has the potential to really soar. It’s also well worth noting that Romeo Crennel’s influence and involvement makes our particular situation a lot more hopeful with a guy like Phil Taylor should there be any lingering doubts about him. The risk factor on NT just dropped a little more with that particular aspect in case you’re keeping track.
The only other reasonably justifiable selection here is OT but I just have a hard time seeing that being very high on Scott Pioli’s wish list. The Chiefs enjoyed a top tier running offense last season and they got it because the line, as a unit, did what needed to be done to achieve that result. There comes a point when messing around too much with one’s success can flip it into a weakness. More than anything, we need depth and versatility on our OL, and that, I assure you, can be accomplished in the later rounds with this draft.
There are those who want to insist that taking Phil Taylor with the 21st overall pick is too big of a reach and that the Chiefs will have opportunities to fill this position in the 2nd or possibly 3rd rounds. There is also the cynical notion that the real reason that Phil Taylor lost weight in his senior year, played very well, and then again before the Senior Bowl and Combine, where again he performed well, was merely because he wanted to impress scouts in order to collect a big paycheck on draft day. In other words, after putting in four full years of NCAA I football, when he hits the pros he’ll somehow lose his love for and commitment to the game.
The truth of the matter is that Phil Taylor comes into the NFL with nearly ideal physical dimensions for the position and is recognized by the majority of draft experts as the best pure NT in this year’s draft and as a result merits late 1st, early 2nd round value. Why is that? It’s because Taylor performed well his junior year and after getting down to his ideal weight, performed even better in his senior season, in the Senior Bowl, at the Combine, and at his Pro Day. In other words, he is doing everything right because, well, he is the caliber of player that recognizes his weaknesses, makes the necessary adjustments and then performs at the highest possible level when presented with the opportunity. There’s a name for that – it’s called first round talent. Rich Gosselin, the most accurate draft prognisticator alive, recently ranked Phil Taylor as the 4th best DT in this draft. I rest my case as to Phil Taylor’s 1st round worthiness.
Nevertheless, let’s look at the “first round reach / second round other options” argument from another angle. When the Chiefs pick at #21, there are likely to be only two other NTs, other than Taylor, in this year’s draft class with the potential to play at an NFL level in the foreseeable future – those being Powe and Ellis, neither of whom merit 1st round consideration by any expert that I’ve seen or read. However, don’t be led astray by that assumption. There are a lot more than just 3 teams needing a DT with Phil Taylor’s type physique and playing ability. At least 33 Pro Scouts attended Taylor’s workouts, he’s had at least 8 official team visits, and at least 3 teams, including the Chiefs, have conducted private workouts with him. Among other things, what that means is that there are a lot of teams looking for and needing a player like Phil Taylor.
So let’s assume Powe and Ellis are indeed 2nd or 3rd round material as many seem to believe. Are the Chiefs the only team looking for a NT in this draft? To my knowledge there are at least 6 other teams, possibly 7, possibly more, that are also looking to draft a NT – the Bills, the Texans, the Redskins, the 49ers, the Jets, the Steelers and quite possibly the Patriots. Additionally, while I don’t know of any (other) teams planning to convert to the 34 defense in 2011, it’s nevertheless a possibility that should not be overlooked. On top of that, there are also teams, like the Bears for example, who play a 43 D using players that match the prototypical NT’s physique. What I’m telling you is that there is supply and demand imbalance for NTs that will push up their value in this draft.
Let me explain further.
The first thing that needs to be recognized is that in all likelihood either the Bills or the Broncos will take Dareus with their first pick – that is unless the Panthers grab him first. If the Panthers take Dareus (who can play in either a 43 or 34 scheme) then we still have at least 5 teams looking for a NT-type player at that point. While it’s possible the 49ers would use their #7 overall pick on Dareus, I highly doubt he’ll fall to them.
The Bills next pick is #34, the Redskins round 2 pick is #41, the Texans have pick #42, and the 49ers pick 45th. Following the Chiefs in the 1st round are the Jets at #30, the Steelers at #31, and the Patriots with picks #28 and #33 (who also have pick #17 incidentally). The Jets next pick comes at the end of the 3rd round. The Jets, who released both Kris Jenkins and Vernon Ghoulston earlier this year, will not the leave the 1st round without taking the best available NT on the board.
So let’s just suppose Phil Taylor is available when the Chiefs pick at #21 but they pass on him. The Chiefs next pick is #55. If given the opportunity, I am convinced that the Jets will jump all over the chance to take Taylor with their respective 1st round pick. Even if I’m wrong about that, there’s no way that Phil Taylor gets past the 5th pick of the 2nd round. That now leaves two NTs for 5 teams that need one and oh, by the way, 4 of those 5 pick happen to fall before the Chiefs get a chance to use their 2nd round pick.
With 4 other teams still needing a NT, and knowing the Chiefs are sitting out there at pick 55 also still needing a NT, what do you think the likelihood is that either Powe or Ellis (both considered 2nd round talents by many experts) will still be on the board when the Chiefs 2nd round pick comes around? It’s a rhetorical question in case you’re wondering.
Oh, but wait, it just gets better. The Patriots, who have been increasingly experimenting with Vince Wilfork (drafted with a #21 pick incidentally) at DE, have picks #17, #28, and #33. Remember what I said about the Jets not leaving the 1st round without taking the best available NT? Suppose the Patriots take Taylor with their #28 pick? That means the Jets panic and take either Powe or Ellis leaving just one NT on the board going into the 2nd round with no less than 5 other teams in dire need of a NT. Still convinced we can get a decent NT in the 2nd round that would not be as a big of a “reach” as Phil Taylor supposedly would be in the 1st round?
Supply and demand dictates that there will be a run on available NTs in the 2nd round. Supply and demand dictates that when the Chiefs turn arrives in the 2nd round their best choices for getting a NT will be 1) continue gambling (for what I don’t know), 2) reach big time (again, for what I don’t know) or 3) give up trying. Which option sounds most appealing to you Addicts? Personally, I would go with #3 and pray that Randall Cobb is still on the board when we pick at #55.
Among our choices at WR, OLB, and C, NT, Phil Taylor is the one player least likely to bust and most likely to elevate the play of every player around him – in a word, he would be an “impact” player for the Chiefs. That’s exactly what you want out of your first pick and the Chiefs simply cannot afford to mess around with this position any longer on some thin ice assumption that they can land some possibly adequate, albeit lesser quality NT in some mythical later round. Seriously, why gamble when your best available option is to do the smartest, safest thing?
Love to hear your opinions on this Addicts. After reviewing my arguments and concerns, what odds do you now give the Chiefs of landing either Phil Taylor, Jerrell Powe, or Kendrick Ellis in the 2nd or 3rd rounds? If Ellis is still on the board, is he a good fit for the Chiefs? Supposing we do manage to land one of those players in the 2nd round, who do you have us taking in the 1st round and where do you see us filling other high needs, such as WR, C, and SOLB perhaps, in later rounds – or should we address at least one of those needs in the 1st round? In short, how do you think all this will all play out for the Chiefs?