Feb 21, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey speaks to the media in a press conference during the 2014 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Being John Dorsey Of The Kansas City Chiefs


As a draft analyst for Arrowhead Addict and DraftTek, I often get asked how I come up with my draft assessments. Are they based on my own personal philosophies or do I try to mirror the Kansas City Chiefs current General Manager? Since DraftTek has already released their first 2015 mock draft, it’s a good time to talk about that process and put down on paper how I view John Dorsey. I don’t work in a vacuum, so I always read the comments and adjust my views accordingly. Feel free to comment freely. Disagreeing is fine, but if you can back up your disagreement with a cogent argument, it will be more helpful.

Those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it. Those wise words need to be kept in mind. Someone’s track record gives us a clue as to what they will do in the future. However, there are several points to keep in mind here. Life is not static, the NFL is not static. So, you have to be open to adjusting to new situations. Also, we get scant information on a General Manager. How many drafts do you have to look at? Two? Three? Four? Statistically, by the time you have enough information to go on, that person is unemployed. What a GM does with one team may not be what that person does with another team. Each team brings a unique set of players, strengths and weaknesses to the table. Finally, a GM works with the Head Coach. So, what you get is a collaboration, not a pure view of that GM.

After going through some of the major obstacles, what is someone to do? Well, I can’t find my tarot cards, so I have to rely on a personal viewpoint as a starting point. That is, I believe that if you can identify someone’s core philosophy, that will help you predict what they will do in the future. That provides your starting point, and you build your case from there.

My career with Arrowhead Addict illustrates some of the challenges with trying to mirror the GM. When I first started here, King Carl was sitting on his throne. You would think that would be a major plus. However, he had a new HC, Herm Edwards. Outside of the obvious (bringing the Tampa Two defense to KC) how else would Herm affect the draft? We never got too much of a chance to figure that out. King Carl was quickly dethroned as Clark Hunt put his stamp on the Chiefs. Goodbye King Carl, hello Patriot Way Scott Pioli. What would Pioli do now that he is not working with Bill Belichick? For all his flaws as a leader, Pioli is a good football mind and I developed a pretty decent feel for what he wanted. His ideal draft choice was someone with a 2-3 year track record of starting for a major conference school. He was well trained, smart with good character. Pioli valued consistency highly. This was all well and good, until Pioli’s micromanaging and fear driven culture were finally shown the door. Enter one of Ted Thompson’s protegees, John Dorsey. What would Dorsey do now that he is in charge? How would he acquire talent for new Head Coach Andy Reid?

Now that we are two (really three counting the second waiver wire draft of 2013) drafts in, we can sit back and evaluate Dorsey’s approach. Some analytical data are obvious. Dorsey’s preferences for taller, long armed outside corners has been discussed on this site a lot. Ben Nielsen wrote a nice article awhile back illustrating the Chiefs emphasis on pure speed. Those are clear data points. At the East/West Shrine Game, the Chiefs scouts were all over every fast big-bodied Wide Receiver. That data point has a question mark since we haven’t seen the Chiefs select a WR under Dorsey. However, it does fit the overall picture well. These data points are nice, but there is something meta that ties them all together. What is it? Well, the very first pick Dorsey made illustrates it quite well.

The 2013 draft was a fairly weak one as far as blue chip talents are concerned. If Andrew Luck was in that draft, there would have been no discussion and no Alex Smith in KC. Fortunately, the Chiefs were in need of a good OT prospect and this draft and two at it’s top, Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher. Both were very good prospects. Neither one would have been a bad choice. Joeckel was your classic Scott Pioli player. He was well trained, well established SEC talent, smart, good character. Pioli went on TV and admitted that he would take Joeckel if he was drafting for the Chiefs. Fisher was from a small school, not as well trained but a better raw athlete. What would Dorsey do? We know he took Fisher and the key word was there: athlete. Dorsey drafts athletes first and foremost. That’s your meta tag. The most important thing to John Dorsey is a prospects athletic ability. Convinced yet? No? OK, go through the Chiefs recent daft picks. See how often their profile fits into this construct: great athlete but…

Eric Fisher? Great athlete but from a small school. Knile Davis? Great athlete but he has an injury history and can’t hold on to the football. Travis Kelce? Great athlete but had some trouble in school. Dee Ford? Great athlete but is undersized and changing positions. Phillip Gaines? Great athlete but failed some drug tests at Rice. De’Anthony Thomas? Great athlete but is very undersized.

John Dorsey’s approach is basically this. I bring you, Andy Reid, the best raw talent I could find. You and your staff turn them into NFL football players. For all this work, keep in mind the exceptions. Dorsey drafted Aaron Murray, a classic Scott Pioli player. Pioli drafted Dontari Poe, a classic Dorsey player. It’s a guideline, not a rule.

So Addicts, that’s my take on John Dorsey. How do you evaluate him? Agree or disagree but sound off in the comments!

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Tags: John Dorsey NFL Draft The Kansas City Chiefs

  • mnelson52

    I don’t think you can really evaluate Dorsey till after his third or fourth year is over. I think by then we can see how some of his athletes develop into football players. We know he is human and won’t hit on all his draftee’s but we will see what this team is evolving to. I have no complaints about what he is doing, but I did think he could have kept Flowers for one more year.

    • Michael Shaw

      Especially since Brandon went to the Dolts…………

  • freshmeat62

    Being a little more objective now that we’re a couple years removed from the Pioli era, I can see some positives in Pioli. First of all he had a horrible 1st draft. That could have been because Hunt took so long to pick him as GM, and he and staff didn’t have time to get together on what they wanted. Honestly though, his next 3 drafts weren’t all that bad. Looking back I think Pioli’s biggest problem was he wasn’t good at picking head coaches. In Haley he got the hot shot at the that moment, but they were oil and water, and then Crennel was proof positive of the Peter Principle. Pioli was sold on the Belichick system. If he had been able to get a coach from that Belichick tree maybe thing would have worked out better for him.

    Dorsey and Reid seem to have that cohesion of like minds. Kind of like Peterson and Schottenheimer when they got started in ’89. When Vermeil became coach, once again Peterson was on the same page and
    they built an offensive power house. Yeah I know the d sucked, but
    Vermeil wanted offense, so that’s what Peterson got him.

    Peterson and Dorsey both, seem to be good talent evaluators, and find the type of player that fits the coaches philosophy. Pioli on the other hand was picking players trying to create NE West, for Haley’s, well whatever Haley’s philosophy was. Round pegs in square holes.

    • Chuck Burrell

      I agree. Your comment sums up my thoughts on Pioli pretty well. Though Pioli did snag a couple coaches from the Belichick tree in Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis. I think Charlie was this missing piece. Cassel was able to have a good year with him as the OC, but it all fell apart soon after he left. The bottom line, for me, is Pioli inherited a 2-14 team and four years later he left us with the same. The roster became more talented in those 4 years, but keep in mind that Jamaal, DJ, Bowe, Tamba, and Colquitt all came from Petersen. Also note that while we were having under performing seasons with Haley and Crennel as the HCs, we were consistently in great draft position in every round. So, yes, Scotty boy drafted some good players but, in my opinion, he needed to acquire more of better players to earn his keep.
      I also agree that Dorsey and Reid seem to be adequate talent evaluators and like-minded. Hopefully we’re able to keep the entire organization on staff a while longer before other teams start plucking our guys away.

  • berttheclock

    I will begin with King Carl in his last few years. You mention his HC, but, you didn’t mention the fellow responsible for finding the talent for the Chiefs. He was Bill Kuharich, the architect of the excellent 2008 draft. Notice, he left when Pioli took command. Who really knows the reasons why the sudden departure, but, for whatever reason Pioli did not bring any scouting info with him from the Pats. I differ with my friend freshmeat about his later drafts. Yes, he struck it rich with Poe (Romeo’s influence?) and Houston, of whom, I still believe Pioli would have not taken with a first round pick, but, with a 3rd round selection, he could snub his nose at the rest of the GMs. But, did you notice Ray Farmer worked under Pioli, but, one of the first moves he made after being named GM of the Browns was hiring Bill Kuharich? Farmer knew who really had the expertise in finding talent. I still maintain Pioli’s biggest problem with the Chiefs was in not adding depth and this came with a laziness on his part to really delve into the talent pool in the later round.

    Dorsey, having learned under both Wolf and Thompson, as did John Schneider of the Seahawks, knew the vast importance of constantly scouting and evaluating talent. His later round drafting and his waiver wire pickups show how talented a scout he has become. One other thing which strikes me was the comment by Walker about the makeup of the current locker room. This is not by chance. Cancers in the locker room are not going to be part of the Dorsey model. Pete Prisco may be offended by the picks by Dorsey, but, I hail them.

    • Merlin_Arrowhead_Addict

      Kuharich was already on board when I came to AA, but I am a fan of his. He really helped King Carl improve the Chiefs drafts. I do think your Pioli history is a bit off. The word I got is that Pioli brought tons of information with him from the Pats. He basically locked the Chiefs scouts out and did the draft prep himself, building on what he brought from New England. I give Pioli lots of credit for establishing a good locker room. Character was a big component in his draft evaluation. Dorsey had built on that, but I think Dorsey and Reid will take more chances with a prospect’s character.

    • freshmeat62

      You mention Walker’s comment on locker room unity, and I always wonder just how important that really is. I think back to some of those old Raiders teams where there seemed to be conflict, or the Billy Martin Yankee teams where it seemed there was always turmoil, but yet they won.

      And I agree that Dorsey did an excellent job last year pulling guys from the waiver wire. It’ll be interesting to see if he’s able to grab a gem or 2 being so far down the list this year.

  • berttheclock

    When one evaluates the better class of GMs from the also rans, you look at how they drafted in the lower rounds. Many can see quality at the top, but, the great GMs, such as Schneider, Thompson and Wolf, both Baalke and his excellent predecessor with the Niners, who left for the Seahawks, Scott MacCloughan (SP INC), all drafted extremely well in the lower rounds and were excellent with picking up talent in the undrafted free agent area. I see such developing with Dorsey.

    When one has the talent to properly evaluate the lower rounds and UDFAs, then one can add quality players at a far less amount of money which really helps the dreaded Cap space.

    • Merlin_Arrowhead_Addict

      Well said. What separates the good from the great is how well you pull players from the mid/late rounds and UDFA’s.

      • Andy

        There is also a balance of business/people skills, which both pioli and haley lacked. No one wanted to come here and play. Remember manning didn’t even visit.

  • tm1946

    Seems the only true way is in hindsight. After, in Chief’s case, total failure.

    Dorsey deserves the same amount of time Pioli got. King Carl was in a different boat with Lamar in charge. For me, if a GM is monetarily smart, above average in talent evaluation, and the team becomes a power in their division…. pretty good guy for the job. If he “loses” his way, changing HC, drafting more nobodies than somebodies, not winning in playoffs, adiosgoodbydonot let the door hit you in the rear on your way out.

    Suspect this year will show us nothing about the team as the path chosen seems a bit obtuse from last year.

    • Andy

      I agree, this year will show is little. We could have ‘built’ off of last year’s 11 win season, but we didn’t. We are transitioning. I don’t mind, we will still be competitive, building for future seasons, and I trust Reid and Dorsey. They seem like minded, for the good. Not like minded like pioli and haley.

  • Michael Shaw

    WHOOOO HOOOO!!!! We have a confirmed Merlin sighting!!!!!!

    Ok now that the silliness is done, good read Merlin. I personally think Dorsey will be better than King Carl USED to be early on in his career. Nice to see an article from ya too!!!

    • Merlin_Arrowhead_Addict

      Thanks for the props Michael! I have a good feeling about Dorsey, but only time will tell.

  • Andy

    Poli was the worst. Haley was the second worst. ‘i can take any 22 players off the street…’ both thought they knew it all and were threatened when others might know more. You couldn’t tell them anything. The other thing not mentioned is, no one wanted to come here and play for them.
    Berry was an easy pick. No one can disagree with the Poe pick now, but he wasn’t the best player available, even at his positron. You can’t screw up a first round.like Jackson and say he is a good judge of talent.

  • Hawthorne

    Still early to tell, seems like we get really good value of our late round guys. Catapano, Fulton, Commings, Murray and LDT could all turn out to be solid starters sooner than later. Trouble with the front end of our drafts is they are loaded with guys who should be good, but we don’t know yet. Fischer had some struggles, Ford won’t see a ton of starting time, Davis had good production, but still has injury and ball security concerns, Kelce hasn’t seen regular action yet and Gaines will likely need a year to fix his fundamentals. If both 1st rounders and 1 of the 3rd rounders live up to their potential, Dorsey will be a success.

  • jimfromkcj

    I think that the main problem I have with you all judging Carl is that he was mainly working from a position of weakness. By that, I mean he was mostly drafting from the middle or late in the pack. This comes from being good and having a consistent winning record. The longer you stay close to the top, the more you have to depend on either free agency or trading good players for picks. If Carl had a weakness, I would suggest it was sticking with players too long and not trading them for picks before they reached their down turn and no longer had trade value. Pioli and Dorsey have been blessed with dealing from a position of strength. High draft picks and players who could be traded for picks. Neither one has taken advantage of it.

    • Andy

      I agree, call got a bad wrap. His later years were not memorable, but we went to the playoffs quite often. Also HC Marty and Dick, did not play rookies.

  • Stan Colbert

    I read some place that Dorsey seems to draft stars, which is kind of what you are saying. I have noticed a number of picks are in position groups that likely will experience loss of player in upcoming year or two. Drafts looking ahead to next year’s needs.