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What A Great Draft Does

(Pic: kcchiefs.com)

Coming into a draft, you as an NFL GM must ask yourself: where on this team are we not Super Bowl ready?  And: where are the prospects that fit this team which can get it there?

Of the 22 starting positions on this team, offense and defense, the Chiefs were Super Bowl ready at about half of them.  (I know the list is debatable, but mine includes Cassel, Charles, Bowe, Richardson, Lilja, Dorsey, Hali, DJ, Flowers, Carr, Berry.)  Of the 15 players we can expect to get decent spot time on the field, the Chiefs had Super Bowl worthy backups at about six positions.  (McCluster, Asamoah, Gilberry, Arenas, DeMorrio Williams, Studebaker.)  But that was before this year’s draft class.

If you want to get to the Super Bowl, you need at least 20 starters that are Super Bowl ready.  And you need at least 12 backups that are Super Bowl worthy.  (By my math, that puts us halfway there before the draft began.)

The draft is the most dependable track to getting the numbers you wish.  And when a team has a great draft, and this year I’d argue the Kansas City Chiefs had the best, the remaining puzzle pieces that the team will have to solve via the UDFA scrap heap and free agency become much less important. 

A great draft doesn’t just make your team better, it makes your team better for longer, for cheaper, and far more stable.

More after the jump.

Many fans who don’t value the draft as much as they should often argue that trading a draft pick for a veteran NFL player is preferable because “you don’t know if the draft pick will be any good, but you know exactly how good the NFL player is.”

This is ridiculously simplistic.  In the current market, free agents cost a ton more money than draft picks (with the exception of the Top 15 in the NFL Draft every year, who make way too much money before they ever play a down).  Free agents at wide receiver, passrusher, offensive tackle, defensive line, and elite corners cost tens of millions for shorter contracts than you give rookies.  Don’t even get me started on quarterbacks.

That money is a dramatic step back, because for the tens of millions some team will have to spend to bring in Nnamdi Asomugha, it will be that much less able to bring in other quality players.  Think of the Miami Heat, who spent a small nation’s economy on LeBron, and who now have to pray there are enough mildly terrible scraps willing to play for nickles off the bench.

And, as you could ask the Washington Redskins, free agents bust regularly as well.  Free agents at defensive line rarely pan out well at all, and all but the most elite of corners struggle because each team coaches its secondary and defensive lines completely different.  (Your best shot is typically offensive line.)

Rookies are also far easier to mold into your system than asking a veteran with multiple years of bad habits in the league to change dramatically.  Young players are also more likely to play their asses off, and take orders from coaches.

I’ll have plenty of time to break down the Chiefs’ Draft.  I’ll argue that it will be roughly as good as our 2008 haul that brought in Dorsey, Albert, Flowers and Charles.  But for now, let’s just skim the surface here:

Of the nine (!!!) players we brought in, three of them have legitimate Pro Bowl potential (Baldwin, Houston, and Bailey).  But all of them (with the exception of the bizarre Gabe Miller selection in the 5th) have legitimate potential to start or heavily contribute on a Super Bowl team.

If most of them, let’s say six, land and play to expectations, that not only means we’re closer to being Super Bowl ready.  It means that we get to depend much, much less on unreliable free agency pickups, and that once this becomes a legitimately great team, it won’t be budged from that perch for years.

Go Chiefs.

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