You Are What You Draft
In a strange way, this past draft – one of the most boring in recent memory – was the most interesting.
Four days ago, the new tandem of Head Coach Andy Reid and General Manager John Dorsey practically had a tabula rasa in the eyes of Chiefs fans. We could speculate on how they would change the franchise based on past decisions on different clubs. But, even there, they were not the sole decision-makers. This offseason is the first real peephole into how they will run this team for however long they are allowed to do so.
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The main theme? When Dorsey says “best player available” he means best player available, regardless of position or the grades of other teams. The first pick that illustrated this was the first pick of the 2013 Draft.
We may never know how the trade negotiations between Dorsey and Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland went (although I’d like to think it was similar in tenor to the way that the Amateur Hour Podcast role-played it out), but we know those talks did not end in a trade of LT Brandon Albert to Miami. For the past three months, the greatest certainty in our predictions of what the Chiefs would do at 1st overall hinged on Albert’s fate.
Our good-but-not-great tackle was not traded by the time the Chiefs were required to turn in their card and select their first player. Nonetheless, the team picked another left tackle in Eric Fisher. Value is value in Dorsey’s eyes, and even without having moved the team’s current LT, he wanted to make the most of that pick and grabbed the guy who he felt was the best prospect in this Draft.
Then, after a very long wait for those who were watching the whole proceedings unfold, the Chiefs selected a tight end. This, also, was clearly not a need-driven pick. While he may not have sparkled quite as much since his magical 2010 season, TE Tony Moeaki, who was on IR throughout 2011, still has the potential to be a productive two-way TE in this league. Similarly, the new regime quickly signed TE Anthony Fasano in free agency who is similarly one of the best block-and-catch tight ends.
So, why pick TE Travis Kelce, who fits the same mold, at the top of the 3rd round? Well, obviously, Dorsey would not have used his second pick in the Draft on him unless he thought Kelce could be as good or better than what we already have on the team. The fact is that – paired with decent quarterbacks or no – Moeaki has produced very little outside of that 2010 season. More to the point, Dorsey is looking for value wherever he finds it. Kelce was high on his board and still available, so he took him, no questions asked.
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What followed was probably the biggest head-scratcher of the Chiefs 2013 draft: RB Knile Davis. In a draft that was thick with running backs in the mid rounds, Davis was expected by many to be an undrafted free agent. But, on the other hand, he fits Reid’s system perfectly. Line up the tape of Eagles RB LeSean McCoy and the former Razorback Davis and you see plenty of similarities. Just like with McCoy, the commentating class are questioning Davis’ top end speed, and his ability to get it done with his small frame.
But, whether you like it or not, these are the kinds of guys that Coach Reid covets. He is looking for slightly undersized quick guys with vision to for the hole. McCoy has become a stud in this league and he was picked in the middle of the second round. Davis, who clocked in with a 4.37 40 time at the combine, got grabbed at the bottom of the 3rd. I’m not saying that he will be as good as McCoy, but I don’t think this pick was as surprising as many made it out to be. He is consistent with the model of an Andy Reid running back, and he may have been the only pure Reid guy in this draft.
After picking three players that landed in currently crowded position groups, the new regime then ticked a need by selecting Alabama LB Nico Johnson at the top of the 4th round. Initially, I wasn’t crazy about this pick. Basically all evaluations described him as a purely run-stuffing two-down linebacker who might be stout in the early downs but would be a liability in coverage. Immediately , this reminded me of the late Jovan Belcher, whose murderous departure from both life and team punctuated the Chiefs’ worst season in recent memory.
That tragic mess aside, we were already talking this time last year about the need to replace him or at least give him significant competition as we needed a guy able to chase down tight ends and wide receivers on 1st and 2nd down and he was particularly exposed in those situations. Nico Johnson doesn’t give us much more in that department.
However, we also have a new defensive coordinator and scheme. We are yet to see how DC Bob Sutton plans to use Nico and the rest of the defense, so it is possible that by getting the best “thumper” LB in the draft, the Chiefs put the last piece in place.
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In a similar vein, the choice of CB Sanders Commings in the 5th round seemed strange, but after looking at his highlight tape, it became quickly clear that the Chiefs likely viewed him as more of a safety prospect than a CB that would add to our full stable of cornerbacks. Commings is a big, fast and physical guy who didn’t show the skills to be one of the top-rated cornerbacks, but he definitely has the talent to step in the place of the Chiefs’ oft-injured FS Kendrick Lewis.
Either way, I think there will now be some genuine competition in the defensive backfield and the same way that Reid says he likes to put his best five offensive linemen on the field, I think we will see the best five DB’s on the field in nickel situations, which could lead to some really interesting combinations.
Also, having five very good D-backs allows you to take your run-stuffing ILB off the field … a plan seems to be emerging here.
The last three picks in rounds 6 and 7 I believe have to be viewed as special teamers and practice squad guys until proven otherwise. Generally, the selection of a fullback screams “special teams stud” – KSU fans please let me know if I am wrong in this particular instance.
So, what do we take from this? Well, we had already gotten a hint of this from free agency. Dorsey does not want this team to be a leaky ship on paper. There will be no holes and any young prospect coming in will have to compete and will be chosen purely on their talent. They will not be drafted and expected to fill some void that the team left open like with WR Jon Baldwin. I don’t know if this strategy will work, but the man has credibility coming from the Green Bay Packers.
For four years we had all been adjusting to the Patriots Way, whatever the hell that meant, but now we are starting to get a glimpse of this new identity that Dorsey and Reid will be imprinting upon our Kansas City squad.
What do you think, Addicts? Tired of imported philosophies, or do you think this one will work?