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Grading The ‘11 Draft … Monday Cup O’Chiefs

I was all set to write this epistle around 10 o’clock last night when the real world intervened and news hit that after more than a decade of trying to remove Osama bin Laden from this mortal world, the business was finally served.

So here it’s Monday morning and the focus is back on the draft, and more specifically the Chiefs class of nine players from the 2011 NFL Draft.

I will repeat, grading drafts in the moments after they are completed is the worst type of premature football ejaculation. But at times I do find it entertaining to see what folks covering the draft have to say about what went down. Unfortunately, almost all of those evaluations are based on perception, and those perceptions get repeated so many times it becomes reality.

Pundits are grading the Chiefs drafts anywhere from A- to D+; even one draft jockey gave them an F. So they’ve covered the waterfront on all of these picks.

And my own thoughts reflect that. On one hand, I liked the Chiefs willingness to go out and draft for need is not necessarily a bad thing for a team trying to keep its contender status. On the other hand, I think the Chiefs had one of those drafts that made them look like a team that made it, and was projecting far more from players than what they’ve shown on the college level. Here’s more on both avenues.

NEED-BASED DRAFT

The ’11 Draft class was selected to fill holes in the roster. Some of that group of nine were selected to fill empty slots on the team that the ’09 draft failed to get done.

For a long time the league lived on the basis of drafting the best athlete available. Or, at least they said that’s what they were doing. But invariably, that BAA always turned out to be a body that fit a position of need.

True BAA picks are few and far between. New England had one with the selection of QB Ryan Mallett. The position is not one of need, but at that point in the draft, the Patriots felt Mallett was the BAA and was a great value at that point of the draft.

Pioli/Haley dropped all pretense of going after the BAA. They drafted for need and a very well defined list they wanted to fill. In fact, Pioli didn’t call them needs, but musts, as in we must have another wide receiver who can help our offense. The others were an interior offensive lineman, an outside linebacker, an inside pass rusher for the defensive line and a developmental quarterback. They drafted players to fill all of those roles.

Of those nine picks, the best potential players are first-round WR Jonathan Baldwin and third-round OLB Justin Houston. But even those highly rated players come with baggage, with questions about Baldwin’s attitude and Houston’s intelligence to test positive for a drug test he knew for months was coming at the NFL Combine.

Baldwin should be a starter on the ’11 team. Without knowing what the status of last year’s starter Casey Wiegmann will be, it’s hard to predict playing time for second-round C/G Rodney Hudson. If Wiegmann retires, Hudson will be a starter.

Houston’s no lock to be a starter, not with Andy Studebaker around. There’s no question that Houston is more gifted athletically than Studebaker, but that doesn’t mean he’s a better player.

Third-round DL Allen Bailey has some tools, but is raw as raw can be. Pioli and Haley expect him to take the field in the nickel and rush the passer from one of the inside spots. Among the remaining five players there are not any starters there. Only sixth-round NT Jerrell Powe might have a shot.

Filling needs as a strategy in the draft means that there are a lot of talented players that are passed over. It also means that the players who are selected to fill the needs better workout.

But given the Chiefs current status and the work of Pioli/Haley in rebuilding, they need results now. Clark Hunt does not possess the patience of his father.

PROJECTION DRAFT

Here’s why I think the Chiefs got off track a bit with the 2011 draft class – there were too many players selected based on projections of what they can do, rather than what they have done.

That’s something a well-established team might do. It’s not something that would seem prudent for a team in the Chiefs current position.

Let’s take Hudson as the second-round choice, with immediate discussion of him playing center. That’s all well and good, but the number of snaps he had at the position with Florida State was minimal. He was a guard, then a tackle, and only a few snaps at center for the Seminoles.

So the Chiefs are projecting him into a new spot for him.

Bailey in the third round is a guy that spent most of his time playing defensive end in the 4-3 scheme with the Miami Hurricanes. He moved inside at times in the nickel defense to rush the passer.

That’s the role the Chiefs see Bailey having – an inside pass rusher. Whether that grows into more time at DE than expected remains to be seen. But Bailey was a DE for the Hurricanes. He’s a project.

In the fifth-round they drafted DE Gabe Miller out of Oregon State, but they plan to move him to OLB. It’s a position Miller has little experience in. He’s a project.

In the sixth round they selected Powe, who has never played the nose tackle position. He was a defensive tackle at Mississippi and has no experience of playing the much tougher nose tackle position, especially in the scheme favored by the Chiefs and defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel.

That’s almost half of the draft class being projected for contributing in a manner that they’ve either never done or have limited experience. From where I sit, that’s too much projection and not enough production in those spots.

So you see, upon further review, you can take a look at this 2011 Draft class for the Chiefs and get many different views.


14 Responses to “Grading The ‘11 Draft … Monday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • May 2, 2011  - Tim says:

    I don’t necessarily disagree Bob HOWEVER, who would you have selected in each round based on how the board fell? Let’s go on record with it & revisit later in the year or next year & see. Let’s not wait until much later & say, “we shoulda selected him when we had the chance”.


  • May 2, 2011  - Danny W says:

    BOb
    I like your analysis, Here are my thoughts on that. Andy Studebaker should have by all rights been playing in place of the ancient Mike Vrabel last year who could produce absolutely nothing from the OLB position. Why are the Chiefs brass not sold him by then? Or is it just a New England connection? I think they will give Andy the nod if they lose Hali via free agency but I dont see them not playing Justin Houston over Studebaker whether Andy is better than Houston or not.

    Powe at nose tackle; All he essentially needs to do is occupy double teams. If he can do that he will be doing everyone on our defense a service. All that should be is a bull rush on the A gap right? I wouldn’t think Nose Tackle would be that big of a project or am I wrong and if so why?


  • May 2, 2011  - Blake says:

    Bob I think Shane Bannon has a good chance to start at FB but you didnt list him. I dont agree with you saying Allen Bailey is as raw as raw can get either cause he had quite a bit of experience in college. I also dont like that you say over half the draft was projections, because if you look at it, how many 34 defenses are there in college football? so it is unfair to say Powe has never played the position when almost no modern day NT did play 34 NT in college. Powe has experience taking on the double team and that is good enough for me. Hudson is so talented that he could play anywhere on the line, he played a little center in college and he played center at the senior bowl. He is not nearly as inexperienced as you are making him sound, besides playing on the LG compared to C isnt a huge difference compared to LT to C. Gabe Miller was a 4A Defensive Player of the Year as a linebacker in high school and Rivals.com ranked him the 11th best inside linebacker in the nation and among its top 250 prospects in high school. These players arent playing positions that they have never played before like you are making it sound or giving them credit for.


  • May 2, 2011  - True Red & Gold says:

    You could argue this until the cows come home but Bob has a point.
    There is a lot of evidence of successes and failures in the league of guys that were projections when drafted. Pioli, Hailey, and company have really rolled the dice on this draft class, more so than the two prior drafts. I am neutral at this point but it feels to me like there was a bit of desperation in some of these picks. I do have this to say: Pioli WAS NOT the mastermind behind the New England drafts. That has become very evident at this point. Not sure he truly earned some of the accolades that he has been given??


  • May 2, 2011  - Blake says:

    I disagree True Red & Gold, the past two drafts have been at the top of the NFL. I would say that if anything it WAS Pioli who was the mastermind. I mean look at the Pats last two drafts compared to the Chiefs. KC without a doubt had the better drafts. Look at how many years they have needed a stud pass rusher and every year they have tons of picks and they never pick them. that was one of the worries I had about Pioli is a lack of pass rush, but that is looking more and more like that was Belichick rather than Pioli. KC wasnt making reaches in this draft like everyone is thinking either, Baldwin slight reach, Hudson was right where he was suppose to go, Houston BAA suppose to go in round 1 or 2, Bailey BAA suppose to go round 2, Brown BAA, suppose to go round 3, Stanzi BAA suppose to go round 3 or 4, Miller was a reach, Powe BAA suppose to go round 3-5, Bannon went where he was suppose to. KC got both needs and Best Athlete Available.


  • May 2, 2011  - True Red & Gold says:

    Pioli has one good draft as chief in charge. Not sure what Blake is talking about. Also no one is saying that the Chiefs reached, in fact just the opposite has been said. I agree with what others are saying in that they got good value drafting for need. They just made some gambles on character and projections is all. Belichick dominates the draft. NE hasn’t missed a beat in their draft day dealings since Pioli left. What was NE’s record last year and how did they rank for age of team, enough said I think.


  • May 2, 2011  - Blake says:

    So you dont think this is a good draft? I would no doubt count this as his second good draft, I dont know what you are talking about. I am not talking about how good the Pats did last year, I am only talking about the draft picks they make. How long have they needed a good pass rusher and how long have the consistently passed on one. It has been years since they took a good pass rusher and are long over due for one. If they had one or two then the Pats probably would have won the Super Bowl. Enough said I think.


  • May 2, 2011  - el cid says:

    It is almost funny. Last two drafts, Pioli religiously double tapped one position. Do not forget TEs every year. Some worked, some did not. Pioli is the exec of year more times than I can count but this draft, good or bad, was different from the last two. I suggest he is starting to listen to his helpers and not trying to be everything to everyone. That is growth at GM.

    As for NE, who care it is history. This draft, I like it. Will it be great, don’t know but at least the Chiefs tried.


  • May 2, 2011  - Tenand6 says:

    el cid— I agree. In fact, I think this is Todd and Dick Haley’s influence. They strike me as more….practical?….than Pioli. The assumption is if a good organization is in place, take the talent, assuming the kid is coachable. James Harrison? Are you kidding me? That guy is nuts. I’m certain the Steelers are happy to have him on their team. This was a different draft and we’ll see how it turns out. But what good is having systems in place on offense, defense and special teams and then not taking the players to fill the roles called for? Seems to me that Baldwin, Hudson, Houston, Bailey and Brown were all selected for their fit in what is being coached. The challenge to the coaching staff and the team itself is to get these draftees to buy in. To play their role. If they do, the Chiefs will probably take another step forward.


  • May 2, 2011  - aPauled says:

    The draft is all about projections, educated guesses and SWAGs. Not one of these guys is a proven commodity against NFL competition. Hudson was a 4 time all ACC OG. Worst case…he doesn’t work out at Center and we have a quality OG. FSU’s O-Line coach Trickett claims that he worked Hudson at Center in every practice. Not much risk that we have a quality O-lineman here.

    Bailey and Miller are projected to be niche players…pass rushers/special teamers. Draft picks don’t typically come into the NFL with this type of specialty.

    Powe hasn’t played 3-4 NT…neither has Phil Taylor or I assume any of the other college DTs drafted. That’s the nature of being a 3-4 team. The front 7 are all going to be projections as this scheme is rarely played in college.

    On top of that most any player taken Rnd 4-7 is some type of project; develop into a niche player, master fundamentals, health/injury risk, etc.

    IMO the Chiefs took a bigger risk with projections in taking McCluser and Arenas in Rnd 2 of 2010. Both are transitioning to something different than they did in college and both are struggling with the change and speed of the NFL.


  • May 3, 2011  - Oilchiefs says:

    What i understand from this is that it is better to draft a player that you know what your gonna get from them, even if their ceiling is much lower?

    Baldwin had the highest ceiling of all the remaining WR’s. This is the one pick Im not in love with but he can prove me wrong.

    Hudson is a great fit in the ZBS. Also who says Asamoah or Waters won’t slide to C for this year.

    Miller Is a raw Athletic Freak. His explosion numbers and physical stats compare with some of the Great Nfl passrushers. I think it’s worth the project.

    And Powe in fact has played over C and Taken on double teams. In 2009 he actually thrived while doing that but with the Scheme change in 2010, he was asked to shoot gaps. It’s this reason why he fell, he’s a perfect 0 technique.

    Sorry Bob you can’t tell me that these we’re reaches for needs with no experience…Most of these guys could have been in the argument for BPA at their respective selections of the draft.


  • May 3, 2011  - ChuckP says:

    Wow,Bob. It seems that you are not very impressed with the Chiefs draft. After reading your article carefully it seems that there are alot of “projects” with this draft. Truth be told, other than Baldwin I was not really impressed either.


  • May 3, 2011  - RW says:

    Good substantive analysis and views expressed all around and yet, I liked this draft for the Chiefs, liked it alot. Are the Chiefs at a tipping point, that is, about to cross over and become a feared elite team?

    If these guys can be coached up and perform to their capabilities, which is asking alot from rooks, the team could or even should cross over into that top tier status. We all know that it doesn’t take too much to propel a team upward in the short space of a season or two.

    This draft class brings needs, youth and talent. Meshing them into the culture and the team play/performance equation and I see bright days ahead for the Chiefs.


  • May 3, 2011  - Tim says:

    I think the beauty of this draft is that probably all of these guys can make the team and contribute via a specific role from day one. It will push our other role players to perform to stay off the waiver wire, while providing depth for the roster and make the FA process less urgent in an uncertain labor environment. Worst case, we sign a few of our own FA, and a couple of these picks are moved to the practice squad.




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