Scott Pioli’s Shoddy Player Development Lineage


The Kansas City Chiefs have a dilemma on their hands.

If you hired someone to run your organization and asked them to improve the personnel but four years later it was the personnel left over from your previous hire who were clearly your best employees, what would you do? Rumors aside, we’re likely to find that out very soon.

In the real world of business, you would immediately cut your losses and get yourself a real personnel man.

In the football world, you wait and then wait some more, never really knowing if the waiting is doing any good.

Kansas City Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli has done an ambiguous job of drafting, signing, keeping or developing personnel.

Answer this question: the best player on the Chiefs roster is ________________.

I guess you’d get several different answers to that question but whoever you choose, that player most certainly will have been drafted by none other than the Chiefs’ previous general manager Carl Peterson (Chiefs GM from 1989-2008).

Even after four years you’d have to say that eight out of the top 11 players on the Chiefs roster were Carl Peterson hires, Peterson guys.

What’s disturbing is that GM Scott Pioli was brought in to help develop players who could step in when the starters faltered. Not only make the Chiefs good but deep with the “right-kind-of-guys.” However, on the Chiefs’ current roster there is not one player who is even close to be the best at his position in the league, except for Jamaal Charles and Pioli almost cut him in his first year here.

You could argue that Tamba Hali has been close to the best player in the league at his position but there are currently 17 players in the NFL with more sacks than Tamba.

Let’s not over-glorify someone who’s been a pretty good player for the Chiefs but also may just be someone who is filling a void where there has been much little else to cheer about.

Could you argue that Dwayne Bowe is a top 10 wide receiver? He’s currently not a top 10 player at his position. At this moment, there are 15 other receivers with more receiving yards than our “Mr. Show.” With a different QB, who knows?

The point is not to diminish either Hali or Bowe but to point out that under Scott Pioli’s direction neither of these players who could have become the best at their positions have done so. And that’s because the appropriate supports have not been forthcoming.

Now Jamaal Charles is a different case. He is the one and only player who Chiefs fans might call the best at his position. However, if the Chiefs keep ramming his 5’11’’, 199-pound body down the throats of opposing defenses, he won’t be an NFL star for very long.

Besides that, Jamaal Charles was drafted by the much maligned Carl Peterson. Don’t forget, in Scott Pioli and Todd Haley’s first season, Jamaal Charles was almost cut — because if you’ll recall it was LJ’s backfield back then and the Chiefs had no place for Mr. Speedy.

So, what about Scott Pioli’s ability to diagnose ability? Does it really exist? Only an injury to Larry Johnson gave Charles his shot, not some ability to magically divine who the gifted are, or are not.

Jamaal Charles’ health could be a flash point for what transpires between Pioli and the Chiefs. When Pioli arrives he devalues the previous regime’s talent pool for whatever reasons: ego, the desire to distinguish himself by drafting his own players, or a real inability to recognize ability. Whatever that might be, Charles’ success is a prime example of what Scott Pioli hasn’t been able to accomplish—building a roster full of excellent players. An excellent player and the Chiefs’ best player, which is what JC has become and if Charles is run into the ground, who’ll be held accountable for that? The man that didn’t value him in the first place?

When your job is all about player development, you make decisions that are in the best interest of your players, not run them into oblivion.

Below you’ll find a list and a mock ranking, not meant to be definitive, of all of the Chiefs’ current first-string players. The players in burgundy were brought in by Carl Peterson. The players in green were brought in by Scott Pioli. The players in gray were not initially brought into the league by the Chiefs. The rankings, loosely defined, are meant to show how good each Chiefs player is, on a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the highest, and 10 being best in the league. The rankings are based upon a player’s current level of performance.

This is not a debate about who’s the best player nor who is ranked where on the list of the Chiefs’ best players. However, it’s clear that even if you alter the rankings to suit your own liking, the players brought in by previous GM Carl Peterson far and away are better players than the other starters.

What’s missing from these charts are the list of players who Pioli drafted who have already failed. Alex Magee was a third round bust in 2009 who currently plays in the Arena Football league. Donald Washington, a fourth round selection that same year was notoriously athletic and remarkably bad. While Matt Cassel was brought into the league by another, yet unnamed organization, I’m counting him here as the Chiefs second round pick of 2009. I’ll allow my previous posts and comments to stand as a testament to Cassel’s lack of worth. Colin Brown had a lot of support in these here parts but, never became a player. Quinten Lawrence hung around for quite awhile but was ultimately a tweener who couldn’t do any one thing well enough to stay on the roster or make any kind of important game-day contributions. While Javarris Williams seemed to have some potential, you can’t really judge a GM based on seventh-round selections.

Oddly enough, Scott Pioli’s best pick in his first draft was the very last player taken in that seventh round: Kicker Ryan Succop. However, I don’t count Succop as a player who’s much more than just above average for an NFL kicker.

Dustin Colquitt, on the other hand, is one of the best punters in the league. He was also a Carl Peterson selection in 2005. Including Dustin Colquitt, eight of the top 11 players on the Chiefs roster came through King Carl, a moniker Jason Whitlock used, to annoy.

It’s difficult to fathom after four drafts and four offseasons of free agent signings, Carl is looking more a king and Pioli more a peon.

In the 2010 draft Pioli selected Eric Berry, Dexter McCluster, Javier Arenas, Jon Asamoah, Tony Moeaki, Kendrick Lewis, and Cameron Sheffield. While this draft was widely heralded as one of the best in the league at the time, unless something changes dramatically over the next few seasons it will likely only be Eric Berry from this group that makes a Pro Bowl or who has a chance to become one of the best at his position.

In 2011, Pioli drafted Jon Baldwin, Rodney Hudson, Justin Houston, Allen Bailey, Jalil Brown, Ricky Stanzi, Gabe Miller, Jerrell Powe and Shane Bannon. Justin Houston could be a Pro Bowler as early as this season. Hudson is on IR and Jon Baldwin is waiting to break out. Bannon is gone and Gabe Miller is now a TE for the Chicago Bears.

I don’t believe it would be apropos to comment on this year’s draft at this time. We’ll have to give it a year to see if there are those who can ever perform at a high level. However, no one is jumping out so far.

Players who “could be” on the Chiefs roster, who are still performing as starters for other team in the league include: Jared Allen, Tony Gonzales and Bernard Pollard. Allen was traded away before Pioli arrived but, the point is — each of those players came into the league through Carl Peterson.

The Scott Pioli lineage and legacy has not been what most Chiefs fans would have expected.

Not nearly.

A 1-5 record this season and a 22-32 overall record would indicate that general manager Scott Pioli is not manning the ship with the right 53 either.