I sat on the floor at Radio City Music Hall repeatedly refreshing my internet connection.
It wouldn’t connect.
I looked around at my fellow media members and noticed that most of them had given up. They were writing in Word, sorting pictures or texting away on their phones. They were making the best of a crappy situation.
The internet connection at the NFL Draft is notoriously spotty. I had troubles last year as well but they were eventually sorted out by a tech person that came by and did something to my computer. Last night, however, there were no tech people to be found. We were screwed.
Unable to connect with our readers in the chat, upload videos or photos or otherwise make any good use of the fact that I was actually at the draft, I sat and brooded. AA Senior Staff Writer Big Matt sat next to me with a similar amount of frustration but with a sunnier outlook on the situation.
We were at the draft, after all. It wasn’t like there was a lack of things to look at.
As the picks ticked by we began to notice teams were desperately reaching for QB’s. Nearly after every pick, Big Matt would turn to me and ask what I thought the Chiefs were going to do. He was plainly nervous. I was having trouble focusing. I was brooding about the internet situation.
“I don’t know,” I said grumpily, “Maybe we’ll take Ingram if he falls. Or maybe Randell Cobb. I mean, I like Ayers alright and the tackles are all fine I suppose. I guess I just don’t have a favorite so I hope we do something exciting. I don’t know if Ingram would be the right pick but it sure would be an exciting pick.”
Then I went back to brooding.
When the Chiefs traded back I clapped, turned to Big Matt and gave him a high-five. Sure, Phil Taylor was there but in my opinion, there was nobody on the board that was a no-brainer pick for the Chiefs. Taylor filled a great need but I had major questions about him. The only other player on the board I was sure would be a great pick was Mark Ingram but I was also keenly aware that taking Ingram would be the luxury of all luxury picks.
At least now the Chiefs had an extra pick, #70 overall. #70 is the 6th pick in the 3rd round, making it pretty dang valuable. There could still be some serious value at #70 and if someone slides, the Chiefs could end up with basically a 2nd round level talent. They could also use the extra third round pick to move back up into the 2nd round should they see a player they really like as being available.
When pick #26 came along and the Ravens were on the clock, the mysterious sand never actually seen tech crew at Radio City finally got the internet working. It was a crummy connection but it was something. I had been up since 6 AM, and I had been starting to run out of gas.
Then the Ravens failed to pick. What the hell was going on. The Chiefs were on the clock again with the 26th pick. Adam Schefter was tweeting that the Chiefs were still trying to trade back. It looked like they weren’t thrilled with anybody and that they wanted to stock pile picks, Patriots style.
I looked over at the Chiefs’ table and saw one of their representatives hand a card to the NFL official standing next to him. The pick was in.
I immediately got less excited. I expected Akeem Ayers. Or maybe a tackle. Despite the fact that the Chiefs led the league in rushing and matt Cassel made the Pro Bowl, the opinion that the Chiefs must upgrade at tackle is prevalent. I agree with that to a point.
But is tackle the team’s biggest need? I seem to remember Matt Cassel having a pretty decent amount of time when playing defenses like the Raiders and the Ravens. As I recall, the problem was that he had no open receivers to throw the ball to. I remember when the Chiefs did have guys getting open, Cassel tore it up in 2010. Sure, you can never have too many offensive lineman for cripes sake, the Chiefs don’t have any receivers.
“With the 26th pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pitt.”
I threw my hands over my mouth. I glanced at Big Matt. He looked constipated.
We didn’t’ talk a whole lot about Baldwin around AA. I remember doing some research early on and getting really excited about him. I love big, fast receivers. The guy reminded me of Vincent Jackson.
Then I noticed he had some character concerns. I almost immediately and foolishly struck him from my list of possibilities with the “Right 53” mantra ringing in my head.
Let’s put one thing to rest right now. Scott Pioli surely wants good citizens. He wants players that are leaders and who will work hard.
But he isn’t trying to assemble a team of boy scouts. He is trying to assemble a champion. A team of football players.
Baldwin may have had some character issues in college. I had some character issues in college. I was a kid. The important thing is that the kid shows he is ready to become a man and a professional.
Scott Pioli gets paid a lot of money to evaluate players. He knows a lot is riding on this pick. If Baldwin is a bust or a troublemaker, it will be on Pioli. He must feel pretty confident that Baldwin is the right guy.
I’m not giving you that “In Pioli We Trust” brainwashed, Chiefs fan crap you hear all over the place. I don’t trust in Pioli. The hope for Pioli. I hope Pioli is right about picks more often than he is not. But I won’t blindly assume everything the man does is genius merely because I am a Chiefs fan. Pioli is a man and he is going to make mistakes.
In Pioli I hope. I hope he is right about Baldwin.
The more I think about the pick, the more I like it. Come to that, I love what Pioli did in the first round. This is all just speculation but if Pioli really loved Baldwin and really wanted him, he handled things perfectly. The Chiefs have great need at WR and they had no chance to get Julio Jones or AJ Green. They likely spent a lot of time identifying the best WR’s in the draft. They apparently had Baldwin high on their draft board.
Most mocks and projections leading up to last night had Baldwin going in the 2nd round. I get the feeling Baldwin would have been long gone by the time KC picked in round two. There was a big run on receivers early in the 2nd round last year. NFL Draft Scout had Baldwin as the #4 WR in the draft. I am sure other GM’s had him ranked as high. He has incredible tools.
Pioli wisely traded back and got his team an extra 3rd round pick. By snagging Baldwin at the end of the first round, Pioli ensured that the Chiefs got an immensely talented player at their area of biggest need. There is no question that WR was KC’s biggest need. T, OLB, C, all of those positions need some help but for goodness sake, Matt Cassel needs someone to throw the ball to other than Dwayne Bowe and Tony Moeaki.
I think if Pioli could have traded back again he would have. He likely thought he could go back even further and still get Baldwin. If Baldwin was the target all along and Pioli didn’t expect him to go until late, late in the 1st or early in the second, why not stock pile as many picks as possible.
There are other options at tackle, NT and OLB in this draft but the top tier WR’s are dwindling fast. Baldwin is huge at 6-4. He has blazingly fast speed. Unless he is a total bust, teams are going to have to pay serious attention to him. Things will loosen up for Dwayne Bowe and they should really loosen up for Tony Moeaki.
Baldwin has the tools to be a #1 WR. You will hear some boneheads claiming that this pick means the Chiefs could be planning to get rid of Dwayne Bowe. I think that is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard.
What the Chiefs have is a #1 WR and another big, fast WR that has a potential to be a #1 WR. Bowe and Baldwin could be the most dangerous Chiefs receiving duo since Eddie Kennison and Mark Boerigter. (Just kidding).
I told you the other day to expect the unexpected from Pioli. Baldwin was certainly unexpected.
But he has all the potential to be the steam of the first round.