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Time To Give Pioli His Due


Going in to the 2010 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs were a team so full of holes that GM Scott Pioli was going to have to hit a home run for the rookies to have any major impact in turning around a 4-12 team.

He hit a grand slam.

After three games there is no doubt that the Chiefs 2010 rookies are on their way to being special. Every single Chiefs rookie, with the exception of linebacker Cameron Sheffield who landed on IR, has made a significant impact on the Chiefs 3-0 start.

It all started with safety Eric Berry. While Berry has made some early mistakes that have cost the defense some touchdowns, he has made a tremendous impact in the run game. Berry will learn but it is already evident he has the skills to be a special player.

Nest came Dexter McCluster who is contributing as a kick and punt returner, receiver and as a running back. McCkuster has been electric so far, returning a punt 94 for yards for a touchdown to help the Chiefs beat the Chargers and catching a Matt Cassel pass for a touchdown in last week’s victory over the 49ers. Three touchdowns in two games? Not bad rookie, not bad at all.

Pioli stuck gold twice in the second round by drafting return man and nickel CB Javier Arenas. Arenas has also been contributing in the return game but he has obvious skills at CB. With the average NFL team running 3 WR sets over 60% of the time, Arenas is seeing significant playing time. He has shown steady improvement in each game, adding to the Chiefs already formidable secondary.

With his first pick in the third round, Pioli made a move to add depth to the offensive line by drafting G Jon Asamoah out of Illinois. Asamoah is currently the backup at both guard positions and also has the ability to play tackle or center in emergency situations. Even though he is a reserve, Asamoah has seen some snaps as a backup. You haven’t heard his name and for an offensive lineman, that is a good thing.

Pioli snagged perhaps the steal of the draft by using one of the team’s three fifth round picks to move back into the third round. Tony Moeaki, a TE with first round talent, had dropped to the third round because of injury concerns. Three games into the season Moeaki is the team’s leading receiver and has 2 touchdowns including a highlight worthy one-handed touchdown catch against the 49ers. Moeaki has quickly become one of Matt Cassel’s favorite targets and his ability to both block and catch the ball is proving to be a huge asset to the offense.

The Chiefs sat out the fourth round of the draft only to back and draft Kendrick Lewis. Pioli knew something we didn’t at the time and that was that Jarrod Page was as good as gone. Lewis, while listed as the backup to Jon McGraw, has shown remarkable skill for a fifth round draft pick. He has done a nice job in coverage breaking up more than a few passes. He brings speed and athleticism that McGraw lacks and together the two have proved an effective combo at free safety.

With the team’s last pick, Pioli selected LB Cameron Sheffield. Perhaps the most raw of the Chiefs rookies, even Sheffield was showing progress before landing on IR after a scary preseason neck injury.

Make no mistake, the Chiefs have gotten better in 2010 because guys like Derrick Johnson, Glenn Dorsey, Jovan Belcher and Barry Richardson are taking the next step as players.

However, without Pioli’s masterful draft, the Chiefs would likely be 1-2 at best.

Pioli may have whiffed on his first draft class but his average is so high with his second that he is doing just fine. These rookies are for real. There could perhaps be 3 or 4 future all-pros in this draft class.

Chiefs Nation, Arrowhead Addict and the national media are taking note.

Well done Scott!