Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Players Make the Game

“I’ll do what I can to help y’all. But, the game’s out there, and it’s play or get played. That simple.”

Omar Little, The Wire

Do yourself a favor. Over the holidays, when you can’t move because you’ve eaten too much food and you’re sick of watching obscure college bowl games, go watch all five seasons of The Wire. Every now and again, an Addict drops a classic reference from The Wire. Really, all of life’s lessons can be constructed from this series, perhaps the best series of all time.

Omar Little, the iconoclastic hero of The Wire, is a master of “the game.” And I think the Chiefs can learn a little something from him. Omar was the consummate player – in it to win it and with an extraordinary knowledge of the rules, so he could subvert them to his own advantage. In other words, Omar always won, because he knew the value of a player. Let’s be clear as well: by “player,” we’re not talking about average starters and backups. We’re talking about the playmakers.

Against the Raiders, we saw what happened when one of our players – Dwayne Bowe – was out of the lineup. Now granted, the Chiefs underwhelmed us in many ways. But there’s no denying the impact that a player can have on the game.

In our Chiefs’ history, we’ve seen the consistent power of one player over and over again. Derrick Thomas. Neil Smith. Priest Holmes. Derrick Johnson. Tamba Hali. Jamaal Charles.

Now more than ever, I’m all in for this year’s draft. And by that, I mean let’s get two dominant players – like two first rounders.

I covered some of this information last week, but it bears repeating. Here are our last 6 first round picks:

  • 2012: Dontari Poe
  • 2011: Jonathan Baldwin
  • 2010: Eric Berry
  • 2009: Tyson Jackson
  • 2008: Glenn Dorsey and Brandon Albert
  • 2009: Dwayne Bowe

Of these seven picks, four are whom I would consider a player, like Omar Little: Berry, Dorsey, Albert and Bowe. Poe may be there in two years, to boot. That means 57% of our first round picks are players.

Here’s who else we drafted after the first round, each year:

  • 2012: Jeff Allen, Donald Stephenson, Devon Wylie, DeQuan Menzie, Cyrus Gray, Justin Long, Junior Hemingway.
  • 2011: Rodney Hudson, Justin Houston, Allen Bailey, Jalil Brown, Ricky Stanzi, Gabe Miller, Jerrell Powe, Shane Bannon
  • 2010: Dexter McCluster, Javier Arenas, Jon Asamoah, Tony Moeki, Kendrick Lewis, Cameron Sheffeld
  • 2009: Alex Magee, Donald Washington, Colin Brown, Quinten Lawrence, Javarris Williams, Jake O’Connell, Ryan Succop
  • 2008: Brandon Flowers, Jamaal Charles, Brad Cottam, DaJuan Morgan, Will Franklin, Brandon Carr, Barry Richardson, Kevin Robinson, Brian Johnston, Mike Merritt
  • 2007: Turk McBride, DeMarcus Tyler, Kolby Smith, Justin Medlock, Herbert Taylor, Michael Allan

Of these non-first rounders, five of them fall into the player camp: Houston, Succop, Flowers, Charles and Brandon Carr. That’s just 11% of the 44 picks that fell after the first round. Perhaps more importantly, for those that argue about depth, fully 48% of these draft picks, by my count, are not even on the Chiefs’ roster anymore. In other words, post-first round is a total crapshoot.

Bottom line: players tend to come in the first round. Now, this comes as no surprise. But the value proposition for first rounders versus those that come later seems to me to now be a no-brainer, even when you factor in salary. Playmakers make the difference between wins and losses. Backups, “depth” players and practice teamers are necessary, but these picks, when they start, define 2-12 teams.

Come April, let’s draft two real players, even if it means mortgaging the rest of our draft picks. Our payoff will be higher and we can always find depth through free agency or undrafted players. Without playmakers, we are fodder for those who have playmakers. It’s that simple.

What say you, Addicts?! Are you with Omar or not?!!

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  • drtold

    Not with Omar. Seems like we “hit” every year on a third rounder. The 2010 draft was pretty good in every round, and this past draft can not be debated yet. I do not believe we can find quality depth through free agency and undrafted players, as most of the playes found via that route are not good or come with baggage. We do need to keep the “players” we have, as in re-sign them when we have the chance, and not let them go to other teams. We have to acquire talent, use it, and keep it.

  • daego3

    i think your missing the boat on guys like Stephenson, Allen, Asamoah, and Hudson.
    these are guys that will be around for awhile and will be solid on our line for a long time.

  • Chief Hokie

    So you consider Succop, our kicker, a “player” but neglect to include Jeff Allen, Stephenson, Hudson, Asamoah, Arenas, Moeaki, and mccluster? Sounds like your doing a little too much of the puff puff and not enough pass.

    • Patrick Allen

      I would say the jury is still out on Allen, Stephenson, Hudson, Arenas and Moe. Asamoah is average so far. McCluster is a gadget player who may be more useful with a decent QB. None of them are slam dunks is what he is saying.

      • Chief Hokie

        I’m not saying they’re all superstars, but they’re certainly more important to the team than Succop. And I disagree about Asamoah – he’s an excellent run blocker, although he does have work to do on his pass blocking. But then again the same could be said about all of our OL except maybe Albert. We are definitely more of a run blocking team.

        • KCMikeG

          Agreed on the QB but the right OC is just as critical in the success of McCluster, Moeaki and Baldwin for that matter. I would put Moeaki there already after his record setting rookie performance with Cassel being the best QB to throw to him to date. He is very similar to Berry in that he has shown strong signs of coming back from the ACL over the last few games and with a real QB and an actual offensive game plan he will be a “player” too. Baldwin has all of the physical skills but has never been coached up. We better be shipping off to Fitz camp this off season if we want to get anything out of him. I’m not ready to write him off after seeing what he can do in camp. He has experienced some pretty chaotic, unorganized and undisciplined environments in his short time on top of the injury that cost him half of his rookie season. I think Hudson would have been on the list w/o the injury as his arrow has definitely going up before he got hurt. Asamoah continues to develop. I see promise in Stephenson but am very concerned about Allen. Arenas is a good player but since unless we start using him to return kicks he won’t be a “player”.

  • Nicholas Alan Clayton

    The flaw in this reasoning is that drafting is, as you point out, largely a crapshoot. With that in mind, you stand a much greater chance of success by maximizing your total rolls of the dice, not by rolling only twice in an area where you think you stand a greater chance of success. Look at the Patriots. They trade out of the first round almost every year and they are always able to stock their team with talent. That’s largely because they draft for volume and they cut the dead weight early rather than allow busts to hold roster spots. By your count, 57% of the guys we have drafted in the first round have turned into “players” (although I think Dorsey is merely a solid starter). By only having two picks even in the first round there is still a reasonable chance that the Chiefs will not reap anything this year at all. I for one am on the Geno bandwagon for now and want the team to use the rest of the draft to give him weapons and also get an alternative QB high (and I wouldn’t mind trading up from the lower rounds to get more picks in rounds 2 and 3 to do so).

    • Jim Harper

      Not fair to use the Patriots for your argument because they just fuck up the curve. The difference is Belichick is a rare evaluator of talent.

  • Leon Ritz

    I can’t see Dorsey over Jackson if you were picking one. When Dorsey is healthy, which hasn’t been much all year, teams run to his side more often because they have a better chance of getting yards to that side than to Jackson’s. I am a huge Jackson fan ( Yeah I know ) and I honestly wouldn’t put either in the player camp if you aren’t putting Moeaki, McCluster, Allen, Stephenson, or Hudson in there.

  • Jim Harper

    Most of you guys are missing the point. I think what Miles is referring to as players are impact players. And yes Succop is an impact player. Try winning a division w/o a strong kicker. Moeaki will get there if he stays healthy, but not there yet. And we got lucky with a 3rd rounder in Houston who definitely is an impact player, but by the standards Miles set he was not a 1st rounder.I am in agreement with Miles on this one. Odds for success are definitely better with 1st round picks. Now nobody needs to point out to me the number of later rounds becoming impact players. There are exceptions to every rule.

  • sidibeke

    I’m all about going D and trading back into the first round to get our QB if there’s someone out there worth doing that for. If not, go Geno and you’ll be hard-pressed to convince me that the #33 pick is significantly more of a crap shoot that, say, the 29th. Probably not worth it.


    The thought of Pioli running another Chiefs draft is nauseating to me. Many teams have less than stellar success after the first round, and only a few score big in the first. But if this team keeps coming up with “maybe the guy will be good in a couple years” mode, we will always be mediocre. The best that Pioli has been able to come up with is a safety that misses a year. The rest are just “wanna be’s”, who may turn out as “never will be’s”.