Chiefs Draft: John Dorsey Does More Than Talk About ‘Best Player Available’

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Still, as with everything, words don’t get you very far without matching actions. Dorsey has now had a couple of drafts, and Chiefs fans can put him to the test.  And there is plenty of reason for skepticism at first glance.  Kansas City drafted Eric Fisher first overall in 2013 and subsequently allowed Branden Albert to leave via free agency the following year.  In 2014, Dee Ford was the pick at No. 23 in a year where Justin Houston’s contract was ending and Tamba Hali was becoming an aging veteran with a large cap hit.  Given these two selections, it stands to reason that Dorsey drafts players with the intention of having them replace veterans with large contracts.

With Hali being extended and Houston in talks for a long-term contract, was Dee Ford really drafted as a replacement for either player? Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

That logic is now starting to fray at the edges when it comes to Ford.  Houston is now on the franchise tag and Dorsey has been working on a long-term contract.  At the same time, Hali has been given a team-friendly contract extension that suggests he will stick around until he’s ready to retire.  While that doesn’t guarantee that Ford wasn’t drafted to replace either player, it does show that an active replacement plan was not the primary motivation for drafting him. But that still leaves the question of Fisher.  With all of his struggles so far, can we really argue that he was the best player available with the top pick in 2013?

On the face of it, no, we can’t.  And with the power of hindsight, we can chastise Dorsey for not drafting a star like Sheldon Richardson, Eric Reid, or Star Lotulelei.  But using hindsight is never a good way to determine why a decision was made.

To establish whether or not Fisher really was the best player available, we need to go back to 2013 and take a look at how Fisher was viewed as a prospect in relation to the rest of the field. To do this, I gathered the final prospect rankings of eight credible sources:  Mel Kiper, Matt Miller, Mike Mayock, Draft Tek, Todd McShay, Eric Galco, Walter Cherepinsky, and Dane Brugler.  After reviewing the final prospect rankings of each, I compiled a list of players that were considered a top-10 prospect by at least one credible source. Those players are:

Was Eric Fisher truly the best player available on John Dorsey’s draft board?. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Fisher, Luke Joeckel, Lane Fisher, Dion Jordan, Star Lotulelei, Sharriff Floyd, Dee Millner, Jonathan Cooper, Chance Warmack, Kenny Vaccaro, Ezekial Ansah, Barkevious Mingo, Bjoern Werner, Sheldon Richardson, Geno Smith, Tyler Eifert, Cornelious Carradine, Cordarelle Patterson, Jonathan Cyprien, and Jarvis Jones.

With 20 different players to choose from, I had to develop a means of determining which players were as close to a consensus best player available as possible.  To do this, a point system was developed: one point was given to a player every time he was mentioned in a top 10 in order to establish a base line.  For being ranked on a prospect list in positions 1-5, a player received two additional points, while a player ranked 6-10 a player received one additional point.  This means that if “Player A” and “Player B” were each ranked on just one of the lists, “A” would receive more total points for being #3 on that list than “B” would receive for being #8.  Finally, an additional point was attributed to a player any time they were listed #1 overall on one of the lists.

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What does this breakdown show us?  Well, there are two very important things that we can see from this: 1. Only FOUR players were rated in the Top 10 by every analyst (Joeckel, Fisher, Floyd, and Jordan).  2. Joeckel and Fisher were the ONLY TWO players to be rated No. 1 overall by these analysts.

Without playing the revisionist history game, the consensus best player available was either Joeckel or Fisher. Though the chart above may not be an exact replica of the Chiefs draft board, it does provide us with a reasonable amount of information to make an educated guess as to how Dorsey viewed the prospects. And with both Fisher and Joeckel playing the same position, we can take this a step further by saying that Dorsey considered Fisher to be the best player available at the first pick in the NFL Draft.

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Combining what we can see from this breakdown with the current roster situation at outside linebacker, we can make the logical connection that Dorsey does base his draft strategy on the best player available school of thought that is a staple of the Ron Wolf school. Dorsey’s selections in the draft are likely not as much about a perceived need as they are about getting the best football players on the roster.

Moving forward, what does this say about who the Chiefs will draft at No. 18 in the 2015 NFL Draft?  It says Dorsey will be paying more attention to the actual player than he will the position.  The best available receiver isn’t going to be taken unless Dorsey believes he is also the best player.  So whomever Dorsey selects for the Chiefs come April 30, he will be, at the very least, the 18th-ranked player on the Chiefs’ board.