It’s been a couple of days since the draft. Now I can look back and reflect on the picks, grading them accordingly. This was a very strange draft for the Chiefs. Scott Pioli deviated from his usual philosophy with a couple of his picks. He usually takes very conservative, safe players in round one even if he has to reach for them (see Jackson, Tyson). Round two is where he rolls the dice. This year, he flipped the script on us. Let’s go through the selections.
Round One: Dontari Poe, NT Memphis
I didn’t see this one coming. Everything Pioli said about valuing game tape just goes out the window here. Poe’s tape just isn’t that good, and that’s playing at a mediocre level of competition. This seems like a major reach. Poe was listed in the twenties on most boards. Mike Mayock had him listed at #13, so that helps me feel better, as Mayock is one of the best in the business. Bottom line, this is a major roll of the dice. Poe is a boom or bust prospect. The Chiefs know that. In their press conference, they labeled Poe a ‘project’. In round one you take a project when there is a higher rated player at a need position (David DeCastro) sitting there?
What does this pick tell us? Remember when Scott Pioli was hired by the Chiefs and he talked about working with his coach on draft picks? This is proof of that. Poe was not a Pioli pick, Poe was a Romeo pick. Romeo was positively giddy talking about Poe. Poe will be his pet project. Romeo is betting a lot that he can develop Poe into a top nose tackle. Much of this draft is riding on that. My instant reaction was to grade this pick as a D. I feel a bit better about this pick then I did at first. However, the risk of this pick precludes a high grade.
Round Two: Jeff Allen G/T Illinois
This is another interesting pick. Pioli passed on the higher rated Peter Konz for Allen. Why would he do that? This is a classic Pioli philosophy pick and goes back to a problem DD and I have had with him since he got here. Pioli has certain templates and does not often deviate from them. In this case, he insists on offensive lineman that can play several positions. Albert can play tackle or guard, Asamoah can play guard or center, Hudson can play center or guard. Winston is pretty much locked in at right tackle. David DeCastro is purely a guard; he really can’t play center. Peter Konz is a center with limited guard ability. Allen can play guard or tackle. I do find it frustrating that Pioli will pass on higher rated talent to get lower rated (albeit versatile) lineman. I wonder if he is letting the excellent be the enemy of the good. Allen is a sold pick. Some boards had him rated as a high second round pick, others had him as a third round pick.
Round Three: Donald Stephenson OT Oklahoma
At this point, I was really wondering if Pioli had lost his mind. My draft board had Stephenson rated as a UDFA prospect, so did the National Football Post. Plus, a swing tackle now? The Chiefs liked David Mims so much they cut Gaither rather than lose Mims. So why draft a swing tackle rather than corners like Jamell Fleming, Jayron Hosley or Dwight Bentley? For value and position, congrats Stephenson, you are my official WTF draft pick of 2012. Now do me a favor and make me eat those words.
Round Four: Devon Wylie WR Fresno State
This could turn into a very good pick. Wylie is a very quick, shifty slot receiver with speed to burn. He is a bit small and has an injury history. In round four, this is good value. With Steve Breaston’s knee problems, we could need a slot receiver sooner rather than later.
Round Five: DeQuan Menzie S Alabama
This is a drum I have been beating for years. That is, all defensive backs these days should have corner-type cover skills. Enter DeQuan Menzie. He played the ‘star’ position at Alabama, taking that spot over from Javier Arenas. Getting Menzie in round five is great value and his versatility can help the Chiefs sooner rather than later.
Round Six: Cyrus Gray RB Texas A&M
Rounds four and later is where you want to take a running back these days. Gray is a nice fit for a zone blocking scheme. He is a nice cut back runner between the tackles. Also, he blocks well and is a good receiver. He isn’t going to replace Jamaal Charles, but could replace Peyton Hillis after this season. Getting a back with talent here is a job well done.
Round Seven: Jerome Long DE San Diego State
Who? This guy wasn’t on most draft boards. It is round seven, so fliers are expected. At 6′ 5”, 285 lbs, Long has the size you are looking for in a 3-4 DE. Baring a big training camp, Long looks like he is playing for a spot on the Practice Squad.
Round Seven: Junior Hemingway WR Michigan
The Chiefs didn’t really need to draft another WR. However, Hemingway fell on the draft boards, so the value was there. Barring a surprise, he looks like he is working for a spot on the practice squad, like Long.
This was one of the stranger Scott Pioli Chiefs drafts. Pioli rolled the dice in round one, went conservative in round two and reached again in round three. Rounds four through six were filled with good, solid choices. One or a couple of those players could turn out to be steals. The draft really hinges on Poe. If the Chiefs develop him into a top player, this draft will be graded well. If not, it will be graded poorly. Allen should be a solid player. I don’t expect much from Stephenson. Wylie, Menzie and Gray have the talent to contribute. This draft does not look as strong as 2010 or 2011. However, time will tell.
Overall Grade: C+
2013 Draft Needs
It’s never too early to think about next year. The Chiefs are looking pretty solid. However, upgrades can always be made. Here are my top remaining needs.
1] Quarterback: Matt Cassel needs to be replaced
2] CB: Routt is on a short contract and the Chiefs haven’t taken an outside CB in this draft
3] SILB: I am surprised the Chiefs didn’t bring in more competition for Jovan Belcher
Keep an eye on the Bowe situation. The Chiefs can’t afford to lose him. Plus, Tyson Jackson and Glenn Dorsey both have contracts ending after this season. Also, Brandon Albert’s contract is up after this year. He needs to be resigned. As always, Scott Pioli has work to do.