Quick trivia questions, Addicts: First, what do Justin Houston, Tony Moeaki and Ryan Succup have in common?
And second, which of the following Chiefs belong with the group above: Jeff Allen, Donald Stephenson, Devon Wylie, De’Quan Menzie, Cyrus Gray or Junior Hemingway?
On the first question, you have likely surmised that each player is a starter, and you may have also have remembered that none of them were first round picks. But all of them were, in my opinion, the best diamonds-in-the-rough for each of Pioli’s draft seasons (acknowledging that, in 2009, Pioli was essentially a recipient of the previous regime’s scouting reports).
I love the draft for so many reasons, but first among them is watching non-first rounders really shine in their rookie season: my definition of a diamond in the rough. To succeed, to be an impact player in your first year-– and not a first rounder-– is testament to each player’s personal drive, preparation and athleticism, and to the smarts of the entire Kansas City Chiefs’ scouting department.
Briefly, the diamonds in the rough for the first three years of the Pioli were, in my opinion:
- 2009: The Chiefs selected Tyson Jackson first. But the diamond in the rough was clearly Mr. Irrelevant, Ryan Succup, who was great in 2009 and has locked down our placekicking duties for years to come.
- 2010: Moeaki was a third rounder for the Chiefs in 2010, the year we got Eric Berry with the number one pick. He immediately impacted our offense, which was still suffering from the post-Tony Gonzales tight end malaise. Who can forget his one-handed touchdown grab against the Forty-Niners, too!
- 2011: Houston was the third round pick of last year’s draft (Jonathan Baldwin went first). He didn’t see the field much in the first half of the season, but we all know how he came on late in the season and is now most fans’ pick for the breakout player of the year for the Chiefs in 2012. Houston provided one of the most gratifying performances of the year, with 1.5 sacks of Tim Tebow. In fact, watching Houston run down Tebow play after play was a precious moment.
Now we come to the harder of the two questions: which 2012, non-first round rookie will be an immediate impact player in 2012 and earn diamond-in-the-rough honors this year?
As a reminder, after Dontari Poe was selected, the Chiefs selected:
2. Jeff Allen, OG
3. Donald Stephenson, OT
4. Devon Wylie, WR
5. De’Quan Menzie, Safety
6. Cyrus Gray, RB
7. Junior Hemingway, WR
Diamonds in the rough have to perform in year one. So Jeff Allen, who I think will be a stud guard in 2013 and for years to come, probably won’t make the cut for an immediate impact player. Stephenson, who doesn’t have as much upside as Allen, is in the same boat, backing up Brandon Albert and Eric Winston this year. Hemingway may find his way onto special teams perhaps, but I don’t expect him to be a top performer this year.
That leaves three darn good players: Devon Wylie, De’Quan Menzie and Cyrus Gray.
All three will see some playing time this year. But I think Wylie gets the edge. I think Brian Daboll will employ Wylie creatively this year, and often, to take advantage of his amazing quicks. Menzie will be good but just may not make it on the field as much. Gray may fall into the same camp. If Bowe is a no-show, then Wylie will be an even more enticing target for Cassel’s short passing game and Daboll’s gameplans. I would love to see Wylie catch fire this year. He could lead the team in yards after the catch, turning five-yard passes into 15 and 20 yard gains, making nickel backs crazy trying to cover him.
Who do you think will be the 2012 diamond in the rough rookie, Addicts?