Now that a few days have passed, it’s time for Merlin to grade the Kansas City Chiefs draft. Before we get to the picks, the trade down from #21 to #27 deserves it’s own summery. Addicts, it is a textbook case of how to work the draft. Let’s review the scenario Pioli was facing. At #21, most if not all of the set of players Pioli was considering were available, plus one faller, OT Anthony Costanzo. In his post draft conference, Pioli would, rightly, not identify the set of players he was looking at. Fair to say that list included Jon Baldwin, Gabe Carimi and Derrek Sherrod. Phil Taylor may or may not have been in that set. Pioli’s choice was to take a player (probably Costanzo) or trade down. The questions he faced was, how far could he safely trade down and still get a player in his group and is the compensation offered of high enough value to take the risk of losing his whole set of players. Scott Pioli indicated that he received several offers, and took the Browns’ offer. Why take the Browns’ offer? The value of the picks offered well exceeded the trade chart (the Chiefs traded 800 points and received 920 points back), so the trade was significantly in the Chiefs favor. Plus, Pioli made the judgement call that he could still get a player he wanted at #27. He was taking a risk. In fact, the Bears and the Ravens were working out a trade for #26 so the Bears could jump the Chiefs and take Gabe Carimi. That is the risk you run when trading back. Addicts, this was a textbook case of how to work the draft. Scott Pioli deserves an ‘A’ for making that trade, picking up a high 3rd round pick and still getting a player he coveted. Now, onto the picks and grades.
Round 1: Jon Baldwin, WR – Grade B+
I was surprised to see Pioli take Baldwin here. Baldwin carried a mid to early second round grade. He has all the physical tools, but there have been concerns about his conduct. At Pitt, Baldwin ripped his quarterback and coaches. He was not surrounded by elite talent, but ripping your team is a sign of a lack of maturity. Baldwin has all the skills to be better than Dwayne Bowe, but he has work to do. What this pick says is that the Chiefs feel that they have a good lockeroom and can take a chance on bringing in someone with some character concerns. Due to the risk associated with this pick, I am giving it a B+.
Round 2: Rodney Hudson, C – Grade A-
After a deviation in round one, Pioli makes a classic Pioli pick. Addicts, this guy has everything the Chiefs are looking for. He is a great fit for the system, he has a great work ethic, he has excellent technique and has high character. So, why an “A-’ and not an ‘A’? He is undersized. Hudson played in college at 285 lbs. That is not going to be acceptable in the NFL. We have talked before about having a center who is large enough to anchor against a NFL sized NT. I worry that Hudson may be too light to handle that assignment. Based on that concern, I am giving this pick an ‘A-’.
Round 3: Justin Houston, SOLB Grade B
Loyal readers know I don’t really like Houston as a player. Like Baldwin, he has immense physical tools. However, he is not a consistent player. Before the failed drug test, he was talked about as a possible first round selection. That would have been a major reach. Now, let’s talk about the failed drug test. I do hold it against him. It’s not that pot is a terrible drug, it’s about his judgment. Only an idiot fails a known drug test when you are looking at a possible multi-million dollar contract. That is very, very poor judgment. This is a boom or bust type of pick. Taking a flyer on Houston at the top of round three is a calculated gamble. With an appreciation of the risk and value, a B grade seems fair.
Round 3: Allen Bailey, DE Grade B
This pick was another surprise. DE was not high on the needs list. However, as you work your way down the draft, you should be open to picking more value oriented targets. Bailey was such a target. At the end of round three, he can come in and push Tyson Jackson. Either way, he should join the DE rotation.
Round 4: Jalil Brown, C Grade B-
Without filling the huge NT need, the Chiefs take a solid value player to back up Flowers and Carr. While it’s not a huge need, in this pass happy era you can never have too many good corners.
Round 5, Ricky Stanzi, QB Grade A
This is the first pick the Chiefs made that thrilled me. During the run up to the draft, I made it no secret that I loved Ricky Stanzi to the Chiefs in round five. Stanzi is a great fit for the Chiefs. He is a smart, game manager who needs refinement in his technique. Pioli prefers to try to develop later round quarterback prospects. Stanzi may or may not make it, however this is the type of draft pick we can expect to see the Chiefs making on a regular basis. They may have to choose two or three of these types of players, but one should develop into a very good quarterback.
Round 5, Gabe Miller, WOLB Grade D
With this pick, I am instituting a new award. It’s the annual Scott Pioli WTF draft pick. Going back in time, I will award this designation to Colin Brown, 2009 (round 5, rated as a UDFA prospect on most draft boards) and Javier Arenas, 2010 (round 2, a nickel corner in round 2 with so many other needs?). With Hali, Sheffield and Greenwood, I didn’t and still don’t see the need for another pass rushing OLB. Especially one carrying a UDFA rating on most boards. Congrats Gabe, you are this drafts Scott Pioli WTF draft pick. Let’s hope you can make me eat those words.
Round 6, Jerrell Powe, NT Grade A
Powe had a round three to four draft grade on most boards. Getting a legitimate starting NT prospect in round 6 is very good value. Powe is an older prospect and has had academic issues. However, that does not explain why he was available in round 6. Someday, the story may come out why he lasted so long. For now, he gets an ‘A’ and a good shot to start.
Round 7, Shane Bannon, FB Grade B
With Henry Hynoski still available, this pick comes out of left field. Coming from Yale, he certainly has the brains to succeed. He has a good work ethic and attitude. I expect him to lose some weight and compete for a FB slot.
Overall grade. B
Without the selection of Miller, this could have been a B+ draft. Addicts, you are starting to see a shift in draft strategy. It’s not a huge shift. Scott Pioli still is a conservative drafter. However, he is starting to take some chances. Players like Baldwin and Houston may not have been selections last year, despite their physical skills. What does this draft tell us? It tells us that the Chiefs are trying to take the leap to solid playoff contender status. Time will tell if this draft gets us there. However, it has the potential to do just that.