CSI-Pioli, A Forensic Look … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

The scouting ship the S.S. Pioli is locked up tight these days. Right now, most of the first mates have disembarked and headed off to Pro-Day workouts on college campuses around the country.

But once they return, the gang plank will be raised and the Pioli Curtain will come back down, leaving no light to shine on the machinations going on inside the Chiefs personnel department as it prepares for the 2011 NFL Draft that is seven weeks away from the April 28th first round.

This will be the third draft with Pioli in charge and holding the final say on the players the Chiefs select. His first draft in 2009 was poor. Relying on information he brought from New England, Pioli drafted third, fifth and sixth-round busts with questions still lingering about first-round selection DE Tyson Jackson. But he fought back in the 2010 NFL Draft, working with seven selections in the first 150 draft slots, Pioli and company found three starters – SS Eric Berry, TE Tony Moeaki and FS Kendrick Lewis, as well as contributors WR Dexter McCluster, CB Javier Arenas and C/G Jon Asamoah.

While that group made big contributions in their rookie seasons, Pioli isn’t ready to take a Grade of A for that draft class.

“I’m not sure we had a great draft or not; I’ll let you know in two years,” Pioli said at the NFL Combine some 10 days ago. “The true measure of that draft and any other draft is going to be after several seasons. The jury is still out and will be for a couple of years because it’s not about one-and-done.”

So far, that’s one bad draft, one good draft and it leaves observers wondering what’s ahead for Pioli’s third draft? Was the ’09 class a fluke? Or was it the ’10 draft class that will prove to be the exception? What we know is this: the organization’s approach continues their rebuilding process through the annual draft. That process includes thorough evaluations of character and dedication that must be at a level where it’s as important as skill. Pioli and crew scored on that level with the ’10 draft class, but badly missed in the ’09 group. They are still looking for the “right 53.”

Everything in the evaluation process remains top-secret stuff, under lock and key on the second floor of the Chiefs facility where Pioli and his personnel department office along with Todd Haley and his coaching staff.

Thus, to learn the ways of the man in charge we must go forensic. All we can do is dissect and examine the previous work of Pioli and try to make some educated guesses as to the methods of his madness. Call it CSI-Pioli.

Here’s the report.


In the 11 drafts that Pioli has been part of with the Patriots and Chiefs there has been only one player taken who did not play at a NCAA Division 1 or 1-AA school. That choice was the final pick of the 2005 NFL Draft when the Patriots grabbed TE Andy Stokes out of William Penn College, a NAIA school located in Oskaloosa, Iowa. That’s a total of 92 players drafted and one was from a small school. That’s one percent chance for players out of NCAA Division II or III and the NAIA to be selected by Pioli.

Pioli’s desire for players from major college football programs goes even deeper. Of those 91 Division 1 players selected, 87 came out of the Football Bowl Series (FBS) schools. Only four played at the Football Championship Series (FCS) level, the old Division 1-AA. Those were players from Central Connecticut, South Carolina State, McNeese State (WR Quinten Lawrence) and Tennessee State (Javarris Williams). So that means 95 percent of the picks have come out of programs that play in a conference that can win major college football’s national championship.

Let’s break that down even more: of those 87 players from FBS programs, 62 came out of five conferences: SEC (18), Big 10 (14), Big 12 (14), ACC (9) and Pac-10 (7). So there’s a 67 percent chance the Chiefs next draft choice will come out of one of the major conferences.

And let’s take it one level further – of those 62 choices out of the five major conferences, 25 came from seven schools – Notre Dame (5), LSU and Miami (4 each), Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Purdue (3 each). That’s 25 of 92 picks, or a 27 percent chance the selection will be from one of those seven schools.

How unusual is the no small school approach to drafting players? It’s not. Let’s take the Chiefs picks in the nine drafts where Pioli was in New England (2000-08). There were 72 selections and 62 came from FBS schools, or 86 percent. They drafted eight players from FCS schools, one from Division II and one from Division III.

Let’s go another step and look at the drafts of the Super Bowl teams from back in February – Green Bay and Pittsburgh. These are two franchises that have built consistently winning teams over the last two decades largely through the draft:

  • Green Bay – had 98 selections in the last 11 drafts and 88 of those came out of FBS programs, or 89.8 percent. They had seven picks from the FCS schools and three from Division II.
  • Pittsburgh – selected 89 players in drafts from 2000-2010, and 87 of those were from FBS teams, or 97.8 percent. They drafted just one player from an FCS school and one from Division II.

So why do Pioli and others stay away from the small school players? The major reason is the level of competition they faced generally did not match those players at the FCS-level. Because of that, it’s harder to project the player’s developmental arch and how long it would take him to step up and become a contributor.



Over 11 drafts with the Patriots/Chiefs, Pioli has been part of selecting a dozen cornerbacks, more than any other position on the field. Only in two of those 11 years did his team not take a corner. In two drafts with the Chiefs, Pioli grabbed CB Donald Washington in the fourth round of the 2009 Draft and then Javier Arenas in the second round last year. Washington has since moved to safety. None of those 12 cornerbacks were taken in the first round; seven came in rounds two through four and then five went in the sixth and seventh rounds.

Pioli’s other favorite position to draft has been tight end, drafting 10 of the blockers/catchers, including one in each of his Chiefs drafts: Jake O’Connell in ’09 and Tony Moeaki in ’10. There was a tight end taken in every round but the second among those 10 choices.

Linebackers are always a Pioli favorite, especially in the later rounds. Overall, he’s been part of drafting 11 outside and inside linebackers, with eight of those players selected using a sixth or seventh round choice. Last year, the Chiefs did not have picks in Rounds 6 or 7, so Pioli used the team’s last choice to take a linebacker in Cameron Sheffield out of Troy in the fifth round.

Given the Patriots and Chiefs use the 3-4 defense, the emphasis on adding linebackers is not surprising. Both Green Bay and Pittsburgh play 3-4 as well and in those 11 drafts, both teams selected a lot of linebackers. The Packers drafted 13 LBs in seven of 11 years. The Steelers grabbed 12 LBs in nine of 11 years.

On the flipside, Pioli’s drafts did not feature centers, guards and wide receivers. Only one center was taken, four guards and seven wide receivers. In two drafts with the Chiefs, Pioli took interior blocker Jon Asamoah last year, and then hybrid RB/WR Dexter McCluster in ’10 and WR Quinten Lawrence the season before that.


After 11 drafts where 92 players were selected, we can do that funky triangulation stuff they do on those CSI shows. So given the big program-type players he seeks and at the positions where they’ve been taken, here’s how history says a Pioli-run draft will likely fall:


Total Picks





Defensive ends/tackles




Cornerbacks or wide receivers

4 each



Tight end




Cornerback or safety

5 total



Offensive tackle












OK, after all that CSI work, here’s where I think Pioli could go based on his history and what’s available in this year’s draft. The players were selected based on where they are projected to be taken:

  1. DT Corey Liuget, Illinois.
  2. WR Randall Cobb, Kentucky.
  3. TE D.J. Williams, Arkansas.
  4. CB Rashad Carmichael, Virginia Tech.
  5. OT Josh Davis, Georgia and RB Bilal Powell, Louisville.
  6. OLB Mario Addison, Troy.
  7. ILB Orie Lemon, Oklahoma State.


In College Station at Texas A&M, LB Von Miller ran the 40-yard dash in 4.49 seconds. Miller ran 4.53 at the Combine. He weighed in at 243 pounds or three pounds less than his weight at the NFL Combine.

In Tuscaloosa, Alabama, former Heisman Trophy RB Mark Ingram posted times of 4.5 and 4.56 in the 40-yard dash. During the NFL Combine, he was clocked at 4.62 in the 40. QB Greg McElroy continues to recover from a hand injury suffered in the Senior Bowl. His workout will go on April 5.

In Stillwater, Oklahoma, RB Kendall Hunter did 40 yards in 4.43 seconds, a slight improvement of the 4.46 seconds that he ran at the Combine.


FALCONS – agreed to a three-year contract extension with GM Thomas Dimitroff.

16 Responses to “CSI-Pioli, A Forensic Look … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • March 10, 2011  - Chuck P says:

    Bob; Great read!!!! All I can say is Tyson Jackson=Pioli First Round Pick= over 10 Million a year deal!!!!= Biggest Bust ever by the Pioli Regime. ENOUGH SAID. Pioli needs to study harder.

  • March 10, 2011  - RW says:

    One thing is clear in terms of drafting well. The top teams in any sport rarely make poor personnel decisions. That mailed-in 2009 draft from Pioli will need a few years of excellent decisions to make good on that one, obviously.

  • March 10, 2011  - el cid says:

    A good article, might consider comparing this to the after draft results, especially if CBA is not done and no free agents to help team.

    As for your draft…..well, it would be more than a little disappointing. First two have to be starters, are they? TE in third, should also be a potentail start?, behind Moeaki and OConnel. He would be the starting bench warmer? I would not hold you to it because you may be right but I would not be dancing in the streets with this group.

  • March 10, 2011  - Jason says:

    I tend to chalk the failed first draft to his late arrival and not having his people as scouts.

  • March 10, 2011  - tybme says:

    chuck I’m guessing you are also one of those guys who spent 2.5 years telling us how Dorsey was nothing but a bust.
    I’m glad Pioli is running he show and not 3/4 of all Chiefs fans/posters.

  • March 10, 2011  - el cid says:

    The revisionists strike again. I HEARD, myself, Mr Pioli say the first draft was his alone. It would take more than 3 years to determine if it was good or not and Jackson “probably” NEVER be a pro bowl type player, more of a bring you lunch bucket type who would play a long time.


    I am content with Pioli being here but he “blew” his first draft, so what, GET OVER IT. He does not need all this support that keeps oozing out. Guess what, he will blow other picks if he does it very long. And I will get angry over it, so what.

    We want a superbowl win, how we get there is not terribly important.

  • March 10, 2011  - Uncuffed says:

    Come on Bob, you know as well as anyone that it takes ~3 years to really judge a draft.

    Plus, you’re comparing a 2009 draft where we had *TWO* picks in the first 3 rounds, to a 2010 draft where we had *FIVE* picks in the first 3 rounds. Not to mention that 2009 was regarded as a weak class in general.

    Don’t forget that we got Cassel and Vrabel from the 2009 draft, and we have to subtract Tony Gonzalez to fully account for the 2010 draft.

  • March 10, 2011  - Haley's Ego says:

    I tend to agree with el cid more. Pioli didn’t do well in his first draft here. Fact. He doesn’t make excuses. So why should anyone else?

    Looks like (from early indications) that he did pretty well in his second draft here.

    This year? Who knows? We’ll find out soon enough.

  • March 10, 2011  - Uncuffed says:

    Everyone always hails any teams best drafts as being those when they had extra picks. That’s extremely short-sighted, because you gave up something to get those extra picks. The extra picks just cover up your mistakes.

    It’s no coincidence that people are currently saying the best Chiefs drafts were 2008 and 2010. It’s because of all the extra picks! You have to subtract Jared Allen, Tony Gonzalez and others to really judge it correctly. 2008 had 3rd, 4th, and 6th round “busts” just as 2009 seems to have had. The only difference is they had more picks to cover up those mistakes.

    I’m not saying 2009 looks like a great draft, but you really have to keep it in context. If TJ steps up this year, and you properly account for Cassel and Vrabel, it doesn’t look nearly as bad.

  • March 10, 2011  - el cid says:

    The fun of this year’s draft is the team is different from when Pioli took over. Haley and coaches (and players) preformed very well and some positions actually have players who belong. Can we build on it? Can we find more starting players or will we revert to developemental types? No CBA, maybe no free agency, will that change how they look at this years draft? Got to say, wow, it should be interesting. (Bob, that why I trashed your third round pick, cannot afford another TE that high).

  • March 10, 2011  - ChuckP says:

    TYBME; If you want to kiss Pioli’s Be Hinney its OK with me. But the facts are the facts. Tyson Jackson has been MIA (MISSING IN ACTION) SINCE HE GOT HERE!!!!!!!! As Jack Nicholson would say “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH”!!!!!!!!!! He has not even once shown a GLIMPSE of greatness. Not even close!!!!!!

  • March 10, 2011  - Michael says:

    It would be easier to judge if someone can handle the truth after he actually hears something truthful. Fact, it takes 2 to 3 years to fully judge a draft.

    Each draft is comepletely different. Different players to choose from, different players on your own team, maybe a different number of draft choices to use, different slot picking from. As always, context makes a difference.

  • March 10, 2011  - ChuckP says:

    Well lets just say that Wallace Gilberry outplayed Tyson Jackson easily last year and he didn’t make 10 Million dollars. My point was that Jackson was way overpaid for his contribution on the field. Or should I say his lack of contribution on the field. Iam a huge Dorsey fan (even have his #72 jersey) and I have never felt that way about hardly any player, but this guy just doesn’t make plays. He’s invisible out there and then to only be a “backup” really adds insult to injury.

  • March 10, 2011  - Nate says:

    Bob, why do you continue to obsess and whine about the closed doors and closed mouths regarding the draft by Scott Pioli? Get over it! We are going into his 3rd draft and it hasn’t changed and there is no reason it should.

  • March 11, 2011  - vincent says:

    Dear Bob,
    you mention how the pioli drafts have concentrated on fbs schools. Is their emphasis that different that the norm? I would think 85-90% of players drafted in the last 10 years have been from FBS schools.

  • March 11, 2011  - el cid says:

    Interesting how comments about Pioli’s past actions get so many defenders. The third draft will help define his views further but anyone who choses to ignor the past, may be doomed to see the Chiefs repeat it.

    Besides with no CBA and posibility of losing this free agent period, what else are we going to talk about? How much golf we will play when there is not NFL on tv? Or how about, “I am not going to watch any more”, as if anyone actually believes that? We fans are all herd animals, ring the bell and we will come running.

Get the Flash Player to see the slideshow.


Other News