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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