KC Chiefs 2011: The Draft of 1,000 Storylines

This must be how some of you felt in 2008 and 2010.  This draft class has me totally enthralled.  My mind is spinning with possibilities.  Nearly every pick makes perfect sense to me, and a lot of them are right up my alley.  Our GM took bold risks, pulled off a successful trade back, filled all of our major needs, and in the process provided us with the most interesting draft class of all time.

Bravo, Pioli.  This should be a proud moment for you.  You’ve earned some unabashed dap from one of your harshest critics.  Take your family out for a nice seafood dinner at the Captain D’s on 63rd and Troost, and tell ‘em Big Matt sent ya.  My name used to mean something over there*.  Should still be good for a free pint of slaw.

*My lust for cod and hush puppies got them through some lean years.  And I eventually founded a scholarship program based out of their drive-through.  It was called Big Matt’s Friendly Fishermen.  We taught inner city kids to catch fish in the Missouri River and bring them to Captain D’s in exchange for school supplies and expired foodstuffs.  The program was eventually shut down by the government and the board of directors indicted for violating child labor laws.  I managed to avoid prison time by ratting on all of my colleagues.  Most of them are dead now.  So many memories.

I couldn’t blame someone for not liking this class.  Pioli and the Chiefs made a lot of noise last year about character.  If you really bought into what they were selling, I can understand being upset now.  Scott Pioli has done an abrupt about-face.  He chased measurables at the expense of Vrabels.  This is one thing we thought he’d never do.

more post-draft chat with your boy Big Matt after the jump:

I’m fine with it.  Because I trust his judgement implicitly?   Uh, no.  Because I like these picks.  And I like what they represent.  Five years from now I think it will be this draft, not last year’s, that we look back on as Pioli’s masterpiece.

An outrageous claim?  I don’t think so.  He went into last year’s draft with so much more to work with.  Significantly higher picks in every round, the #5 overall pick, an extra 2nd rounder, three fifth rounders.  His cupboard was full.  This year, on several occasions, he was lookin’ like Rumplestiltskin out there, spinning gold from straw.  Turned a late first round pick into Jonathan Baldwin and Justin Houston, two players with upside as high as almost anyone in the draft.  Made legitimately interesting picks in the fifth, sixth and seventh rounds, which is no easy task. 

A replacement for Croyle?  A fullback from Yale?  An understudy for my boy Sweet Ron*?  This draft felt like a trip to Worlds of Fun.  Awesome rides all over the place.  If Shane Bannon makes the team I’ll be sporting a Yale hat this fall.

*Word is Sweet Ron snuck into the warroom in a fake mustache and phoned in the Powe pick himself.

Day two in particular will be looked back on as a great day in Chiefs history.  All three of those picks were tremendous.  Rodney Hudson combines great value with a position of dire need.    Rarely do those things match up so perfectly.  This is the type of player I was looking for in the second round last year.  He doesn’t have quite the ceiling of some of our other picks, but he’s the most decorated lineman in ACC history  (yes I just touted that) and he’ll keep us from having to watch Rudy Niswanger ever again.  Fantastic pick.

Justin Houston is a first round talent who fell because of outdated perspectives.  I can see being nervous about him failing a drug test, but if you don’t like him simply because he smokes marijuana you need to get with the times.  Marijauna is already legal in some states, and will be legal in all of them before Houston’s career in the NFL is over.  It isn’t physically addictive, it isn’t man-made, and the activities it lends itself to (playing video games, watching movies, giggling, listening to music) are among the safest ways young athletes can spend their time.  You should hope Chiefs players smoke weed.  Because every night they spend stoney at home is a night they aren’t out at the club.  If you could pick one of those activities for our young players to engage in, which would it be?  These guys are young and rich.   They aren’t angels.  I’ll take potheads over party animals any day.

It just so happens one of those ways of life, the one that actually hurts and even kills people, is greeted with a “boys will be boys” attitude in this country while the other is demonized and slandered.  We watch commercials for alcohol on television every day but a guy who so much as smokes a doobie has character concerns.  The double-standard is ridiculous.  Fall back on “marijuana is illegal!” if you want to.  But beware: that defense will soon be taken away from you.  Millions of people, Justin Houston included, will be vindicated on that day of reckoning.

Off the soapbox.

I know some of you aren’t thrilled with the Allen Bailey pick, and admittedly it isn’t quite as exciting as the preceding three.  As has been said elsewhere, Bailey was a value pick.  There are vague concerns about his consistency, and his tape isn’t overly impressive.  But this guy recorded seven sacks each of the last two seasons and five the season before that.  Whoever else you may have been coveting with that pick, Bailey is another player with an excellent pedigree for our front seven.  The only question is where he fits in.

The Chiefs now find themselves in a position where the 3-4 OLB/situational pass rusher positions are very crowded.  Tamba Hali has one of those spots on lockdown.  The Student Baker, Wallace Gilberry, Houston, and even developmental prospects like Cameron Sheffield and Gabe Miller all figure to be vying for playing time as pass rushers opposite Hali.  Hell, even Mike Vrabel could be brought back (sigh).  There doesn’t seem to be a lot of need for Bailey there.  If the intent was to make him into a linebacker or situational pass rusher, this may indeed have been a redundant pick, value or not.

I think the intent is for him to be a straight-up 3-4 end.  His past experience lends itself to that in my mind.  He actually played some defensive tackle in college, and was better there than at end from what I’ve read.  What seems more likely, that they’d try to shoehorn him into our most crowded position, or that he’ll play the position where we currently have Tyson Jackson pencilled in as a starter?  The answer seems obvious.  

I’m not saying Pioli is abandoning his boy the Man of Tin.  Jackson will most definitely open the season as the starter.  But I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Bailey stealing his playing time by season’s end.  A 3-4 end who could rush the passer in base sets?  Dare I dream this dream?

This draft definitely gets the Big Matt seal of approval.  Fascinating picks all around.  I feel rejuvenated.  I feel alive!  I feel like hugging a stranger.  Unfortunately all the strangers in my neighborhood are Polish, and I’m pretty sure most of them hate me.

Regardless, I am ready to beat the drum for this draft class, and I feel better about our general manager than I ever have.  If the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals does the right thing this could very well go down as the greatest week in offseason history.

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