Scott Pioli called it a mosaic, this process of pulling together personnel for the 2009 Chiefs and beyond.
A mosaic, a puzzle, a landscape, a blueprint … call it what you want, but the reason Pioli sits in the No. 1 seat in the Chiefs Draft Room Saturday is because of what happened during his nine years with the New England Patriots.
And what happened in nine years and nine drafts in Foxboro is 116 victories in this decade and three Super Bowl championships. That’s with one year to go in the first decade of the 21st Century.
Those drafts were the cornerstone of the Patriots success. The 77 draft picks used and the numerous trades the team pulled off with other draft choices provided the greatest part of the team’s talent. There were other trades, signings of UFAs and street free agents that brought in contributors.
But the Patriots won, and Pioli got his new job in the middle of America, because of that draft success.
Now, he’s in the driver’s seat. Before, he was in the No. 2 chair. Now, he’s No. 1 and Todd Haley is in the co-pilot’s seat. There is no Bill Belichick in the equation.
To understand how Pioli will drive the Chiefs vehicle, we can study the draft-day track record of the Patriots. We did that earlier this week on the site. You can find the information and details on every one of those 77 draft choices by clicking right here.
This history gives us a profile of what we can expect to come through the door with the seven draft choices that the team currently holds in this year’s seven-round selection meeting.
What can we expect? Here goes:
- Pioli will enter the draft with a list of names that he wants to draft, first round through seventh round. The draft board is the draft board, but that board will provide Pioli a place to fall when one of his players is taken off the list by another team. The Patriots didn’t just allow the draft board to lead them to picks. They identified the players they wanted and then did what they could to make sure they got them. If that meant trading up, they traded up. If their chosen player in that round was unavailable, they traded down and picked up selections to re-fill their basket for moving up.
- There will be at least one trade during the two-day draft. See above.
- The Patriots drafted players from big-time programs in BCS conferences. Of those 77 players, 58 came from the six biggest conferences and Notre Dame. The Big 12 led the way with 13 picks, SEC had 12, Big 10 with 10, ACC with nine, Pac-10 at seven, Big East with two and five members of the Fighting Irish. Only three of those players came from below the 1-A level: two from 1-AA and one NAIA choice.
- In the prime rounds (1&2), he’s not likely to take an offensive lineman. In nine drafts with 16 picks in those rounds, the Patriots took only three blockers: T Adrian Klemm (2000/2nd), T Matt Light (2001/2nd) and G Logan Mankins (2005/1st). New England took its blockers between rounds three through six, with a total of seven. They got as many starters there (Nick Kaczur and Dan Koppen) as they did in the earlier picks.
- The Chiefs will draft a tight end. Not just because Tony Gonzalez is no longer on the roster, but because the Patriots always seemed to draft a tight end; they took one in seven of the last nine drafts, including two in the first round.
- Linebackers have never been popular early picks for the Patriots. They drafted 10 players identified as linebackers, but only two were taken among the top 180 players. Both of those choices came last year with Jerod Mayo (No. 10) and Shawn Crable (No. 78.) The other eight LBs averaged No. 204. Overall, Belichick preferred to get his linebackers from free agency with guys like Rosevelt Colvin, Adalius Thomas, Junior Seau, Mike Vrabel, Chad Brown, Roman Phifer, Bryan Cox, etc. Pioli has acquired Vrabel and Zach Thomas. Look familiar?
- If there’s a running back drafted, it likely won’t be early. Seven RBs were taken, but only two were above No. 100 and those have to be considered disappointments: J.R. Redmond (2000/3rd) and Laurence Maroney (2006/1st).
- Generally, Pioli will draft a quarterback every other year. The Patriots selected quarterbacks in ’00, ’02, ’03, ’05 and ’08. The highest pick used on a passer was last year when San Diego State QB Kevin O’Connell was taken with the 94th pick (third round). The average draft position of those five quarterbacks was No. 168.
- If Pioli works like Belichick, he’ll be partial to players from programs where he has inside information. That would be schools that have coaches from the Parcells/Belichick tree. Places like Alabama (Nick Saban), Virginia (Al Groh), Fresno State (Pat Hill), Notre Dame (Charlie Weis) and a few others.
- The Patriots have always been partial to players who have shown versatililty. Defensive lineman that can play inside and outside. Linebackers who can play inside and outside. Blockers who can play all five offensive line positions. Tight ends who can be an H-Back or even a fullback.
I won’t bother to guess at names, because that’s exactly what it would be, and there are enough other places that will guess on who the Chiefs might select. But I will guess on this: by the time Pioli/Haley are done selecting in the ’09 NFL Draft they will have selected a wide receiver, tight end, guard, tackle, defensive end, defensive tackle and outside linebacker.
And I will really go out on a limb and provide the rounds those positions will be drafted:
- First: Tackle
- Third: Defensive End
- Fourth: Wide Receiver
- Fifth: Guard
- Sixth: Tight End
- Seventh: Outside Linebacker and defensive tackle.
The fun and the future of the Chiefs begins at 3 o’clock Saturday afternoon.
CASSEL ON THE STUMP FOR MADDEN ’09
It comes with becoming a starting quarterback in the NFL. Matt Cassel was in New York late this week, helping publicize the Madden ’09 game.
Of course, the New York media wasn’t interested in the Chiefs. They wanted to know how Cassel felt about getting thrown in the middle of the Denver-Cutler-Chicago-Orton controversy-soap opera-trade. Remember, it was the Broncos late pursuit of Cassel from the Patriots that got the whole thing rolling in Denver.
“It’s weird because I didn’t have anything to do with it,” Cassel told the Associated Press. “I was just a name in the mix, I guess. … Unfortunately, that’s how the NFL works sometimes.
“Jay now is on a different team. (Kyle) Orton’s on a different team. Everything works out in weird ways in the NFL.”
And every time the saga is mentioned, so is Cassel’s name.
“I still don’t know how it all went down,” he said, “but that’s football for you.”
SIGNINGS & MOVEMENT AROUND THE NFL
BENGALS – re-signed FB Jeremi Johnson.
REDSKINS – signed OT Mike Williams (former Bills No. 1 choice); released P Dirk Johnson.
STEELERS – signed DB Keiwan Ratliff (Colts).
SAY HAPPY BIRTHDAY …
Born on April 25, 1954 in Lawrence, Mass. Was LB Dave Rozumek. He joined the Chiefs as a 15th-round choice, pick No. 420, out of the University of New Hampshire in the 1976 NFL Draft. Rozumek played four seasons for the Chiefs (1976-79), appearing in 45 games, with 16 starts.