Apr 26, 2012; New York, NY, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell introduces defensive tackle Dontari Poe (Memphis) as the 11th overall pick by the Kansas City Chiefs in the 2012 NFL Draft at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports

Dissecting Dorsey And His Draft Philosophy

Much has been made of new GM John Dorsey and his comments in last week’s press junket. In his introductory press conference, he said he would take the “best player available.” That sent a chill down the spine of Chiefs fans who are clamoring for West Virginia’s Geno Smith as their #1 draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Dorsey went on to clarify:

“I know of no other philosophy but that,” Dorsey said. “We have been doing the same model and concept for the last 20 years. We have kind of refined that and tightened it up to where it is today. We started in 1992 … now we’re in 2013, and it’s a little bit tighter. Hopefully, I’d like to implement that type of similar system here within the Kansas City Chiefs.”

There’s no real way to know how this will play out on draft day, but the talking heads are now convinced that he’ll shy away from selecting a quarterback with the top pick. Geno Smith doesn’t appear to be the consensus #1 among draft circles (it’s still just January though). Reaching for a player to fill a need appears to be at odds with Dorsey’s draft ideology. I’m still not sure how revelatory Dorsey’s commentary really is though. How are we to know that Geno Smith isn’t already at the top of his early draft board? There’s also no reason for him to tip his hand and let the NFL world know which prospect(s) he’s high on.

John Dorsey’s draft strategy of choice is pretty straightforward. It’s a self-explanatory philosophy that seeks to draft the most talented player available (according to your draft board). The player’s position and the team’s needs are not accounted for under the “best player available” model. It can be a smart way to go about the draft for a team with few player personnel holes. This process, if done right, yields long-term success for a football team.

In Kansas City’s immediate future, it could prove to be problematic. I find it hard to believe that Dorsey (or any other general manager) would adhere to this philosophy in the strictest terms. That would create a surplus of talent at certain positions and leave the cupboard bare elsewhere. Kansas City’s most glaring need is unquestionably at the quarterback position. This team needs Geno Smith more than it needs Jarvis Jones.  The Chiefs have a rock solid core of talent, but that window is closing. Players like Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali, and Brandon Flowers are all in their primes. Can the Chiefs really afford to squander their best years while the quarterback question remains unanswered?

So what can we expect when the lights go up on April 25th at Radio City Music Hall? John Dorsey’s never been the man in charge so one can only speculate. He says he’s a BPA purist and won’t stray from that philosophy in late-April. I’ll have to take him at his word until he proves otherwise. I can say that Ted Thompson and the Packers organization have clearly utilized a varied approach in drafts past. Green Bay traded up twice in the 2012 NFL Draft. That clearly isn’t a play out of the BPA playbook. Mind you, those trades secured defensive help (Jerel Worthy and Casey Hayward) for the league’s worst total defense the year prior. It’s tough to deny that there was at least some consideration of need on Thompson’s part.

The best draft philosophies observe need, player ranking, and value. Dorsey comes from an organization that seems to mind all three categories. If Dorsey’s past experiences inform his handling of Kansas City’s future drafts, this team should soon be a contender in the AFC. There will be a better overall talent pool at Arrowhead and a focus on addressing the team’s biggest problem areas. That pragmatic approach to the draft is what Chiefs Kingdom is looking for. Games in the 2012 post-season tournament have been won (and lost) on quarterback play. That fact is not lost on the Chiefs’ new brass. Owner Clark Hunt told the Kansas City media that the quarterback position needed attention. Keep that in mind over the next 12 weeks.

For those of you still riding the Geno Smith bandwagon, there is still time for him to make Dorsey’s job easier. With an impressive showing at either the Combine or WVU’s Pro Day, he should make his case as the consensus #1 pick. We’ll get a clearer picture once the free agency period starts. There’s some thought that the Chiefs could address the position that way.

What will happen in primetime on that Thursday night is anyone’s guess right now, but I have no reason to believe John Dorsey won’t give Smith a strong look over the next three months. It’s not time to panic, my friends. We’re still in the best position to change the fortunes of this football team for the next decade. Enjoy the Pro Bowl this weekend and we’ll square up again next Tuesday morning.

Until then, Addicts!

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