Leftovers Leaving Indy; Kuharich Returns To NFL

From the highways and byways of America

Sights, sounds and thoughts from the 2014 NFL Combine with Indianapolis in the rearview mirror:

Welcome back

Former Chiefs VP of player personnel Bill Kuharich attended the Combine in his new role as personnel consultant for the Cleveland Browns. Kuharich will serve as an adviser to Ray Famer, the Browns new general manager. The roles were reversed when they worked for the Chiefs; Kuharich ran the personnel department and Farmer was the team’s director of pro personnel.

Working in concert with then head coach Herm Edwards, Kuharich was responsible for the Chiefs drafts in 2006-07-08. The duo concentrated on creating a roster younger than it was during the Dick Vermeil years. But the rug was pulled out from under Edwards/Kuharich by team chairman Clark Hunt after a 2-14 record in 2008.

Many of the players selected in those three drafts still make major contributions to the Chiefs – OLB Tamba Hali, WR Dwayne Bowe, LT Branden Albert, CB Brandon Flowers and RB Jamaal Charles, along with others that played and continue to spend time in the NFL – S Bernard Pollard, S Jarrad Page, DE Turk McBride, DT Glenn Dorsey, CB Brandon Carr and OT Barry Richardson.

Why was Kuharich out of the NFL personnel ranks for 5 years? He was badmouthed around the league by Scott Pioli. When Pioli took over the football side of the Chiefs in January 2009, he began a verbal assault on all parts of the team’s former operations, especially Kuharich and the personnel department. At the time, Pioli still wore the stink from his time with the New England Patriots and many people around the league thought Pioli knew what he was doing so they listened to him.

Of course the league found out differently, just as Chiefs fans did over 4 years (23-42 record). Pioli was unprepared for his role on top of an NFL organization. He was an insecure administrator and leader, spending an inordinate amount of time browbeating employees and blackballing former workers than actually creating culture capable of becoming a consistently successful franchise.

The rest of the league learned about Pioli and that’s opened the door for a return by a very good personnel man. Cleveland has been a dysfunctional franchise for several years, but having Farmer in charge of personnel, with Kuharich providing his expertise will give the Browns a fighting chance.

In just a few days at the Combine, new Browns head coach Mike Pettine saw a good future working with Farmer and Kuharich.

“Bill’s an outstanding evaluator of talent,” said Pettine. “He and Ray are very similar in how they see things, which means we all are similar in how we see things.”

Wrapping up the Combine work

League-run media access ended Sunday at Lucas Oil Stadium, but plenty of scribes and webbers remained Monday grabbing GMs, coaches and agents in hotel lobbies, convention center hallways and downtown Indy restaurants, even Steak & Shake, a late-night favorite of tired NFL types. Tuesday afternoon will see everybody blasting out of town on flights home.

NFL personnel types will spend this week pulling together the information collected in the Combine week plug it into their files and discuss their next moves. Investigation remains to be done on the nearly 100 underclassmen that declared for the 2014 NFL Draft. Campus workouts and Pro Days will start soon. Injured prospects need to be watched closely in their rehabs. Then, there’s the effect of free agency on the draft process. Finding players for the NFL is a 365/24-7 business.

The Chiefs will pay special attention to the Tuesday field work by defensive backs, since they need help at both safety and cornerback. That doesn’t make them much different than any other teams in the league. After searching for the franchise quarterback, the NFL then targets franchise defensive backs, particularly corners.

Different thoughts on free agency/draft

The question was put to several NFL general managers: Do free agency additions affect a team’s draft choices?

“No, I don’t think so,” said Chiefs G.M. John Dorsey.

“Yes, because if we don’t fill roster holes at certain positions in free agency, we have to find those positions in the draft,” said Indianapolis G.M. Ryan Grigson.

Is one approach correct and the other way wrong? No, it’s really a matter of semantics and that’s why statements made during the run-up to the NFL Draft have to be parsed very carefully. Free agency and draft strategy are cards held close to the vest, and seldom are they revealed by the decision makers on teams that know what they are doing.

One guarantee – good NFL teams use both avenues to improve their talent level; selecting appropriate free agents is as much a skill as picking the right players in the draft.

Combine growth

It was January 1986 when I covered my first NFL Combine. It went down in New Orleans, immediately after the Super Bowl victory of the Chicago Bears over the New England Patriots in the Superdome. To say that in 28 years things have changed would be the understatement of the month. Total media attendance was somewhere around six or seven people, the press area was a hotel room with the furniture removed and there was no television coverage of any type.

This year, there were close to 500 credentialed media, the press room was a stadium club inside Lucas Oil Stadium and it was too small to hold the turnout. Television coverage was extensive including the NFL Network’s showing player drills from inside the stadium.

That’s the power of pro football and the NFL for a non-game event.

16 Responses to “Leftovers Leaving Indy; Kuharich Returns To NFL”

  • February 24, 2014  - johnfromfairfax says:

    I’m glad Bill Kuharich is back in the NFL. He is a good talent evaluator and a good man. The combine has come a long way in the time you’ve covered it Bob. I bet there are plenty of stories to be told over the years there.

  • February 24, 2014  - cychief24 says:

    At the time I was thrilled Herm was fired. 20/20 hindsight it looks like it was a mistake in some ways. It still doesn’t change the fact that Herm was a bad game coach with no team discipline.

  • February 25, 2014  - johnfromfairfax says:

    Herm, like Romeo, is a good man. A good head coach, not so much.

  • February 25, 2014  - R W says:

    I’d love to see Herm return to the Chiefs as the DB coach. Herm’s presence in the locker room and around the team would have a tremendous positive impact plus, having been a player and head coach in the league would bring insights and credibility for the young guys to tap into.

    First though, Herm would have to hang up the microphone at ESPN, another job he’s quite skilled at doing. If he ever gets the coaching itch again, I’d hope Dorsey and Andy could lure him back.

  • February 25, 2014  - Johnfromwichita says:

    I would love to sit in the stands with either Herm or Romeo. Share a beer. Win or lose the game I’d bet it’d be a fun afternoon.

    But I don’t ever want to see either, dressed in red, on the sidelines. Been there. Done that. Didn’t work. Better options. etc, etc…

    Romeo need to go off and enjoy retirement and Herm needs to keep on talking. On TV.

  • February 25, 2014  - R W says:

    I’m far from convinced that there’s better DB coaches out there than Herm. Check your status book ICT.

  • February 25, 2014  - SteveO says:

    Bob – thanks for the update on Kuharich. I recall you reported at the time Peyton Manning snubbed KC by not even coming in for an interview that one reason was the way Pioli treated Kuharich. Ahh, yes, Pioli is learning that one’s draft choices mark one either as a good evaluator of talent (looking at Kuharich’s draft classes) or a pretender (if the shoe fits, Mr. Pioli . . .)

  • February 25, 2014  - cychief24 says:

    I think Marty got it right when he moved Herm from DB coach to scout. Herm would be a great Personel guy. Director of college scouting or Pro player Personel director. Either one he would be great not just good, IMO.

  • February 25, 2014  - Johnfromwichita says:

    RW, know that you have messed up my day beyond repair. I have torn the house, and garage, up looking for my status book. Then, lo and behold, it dawned on me: Wait. What?

    Holy crap, I don’t have a status book.

    What in the hell is a status book and where can I buy one?

    As for Herm and coaching, especially now, I think he should have his own pregame show on Sunday. Make it two hours long. Put it on two or three networks. Put it on Netflix. I’ll watch.

    Just don’t let him wear red.

  • February 26, 2014  - R W says:

    Clever attempt at sarcasm ICT. Allow Me To assist? In this context it’s Stats + standing. As in, standing with players/coaches/media/owners/fans. We good now?

  • February 26, 2014  - R W says:

    Clever attempt at sarcasm ICT. Allow Me To assist? In this context it’s Stats + standing FOR US. As in, standing with players/coaches/media/owners/fans. We good now?

  • February 26, 2014  - Johnfromwichita says:

    RW, we are excellent now. In fact so good I am mostly ignoring that, like cychief, you seem to have a stuttering affliction.

    For verbal stuttering the book says to place pebbles in your mouth when talking. Not much info on media stuttering.

    Try reducing the number of fingers on the keyboard from two to one, take two aspirins and call me in the morning. If it works, let cychief know.

  • February 26, 2014  - cychief24 says:

    I read both of RW posts and I still don’t get what ICT means.

    I read both of RW posts and I still don’t get what ICT means. ;)

  • February 26, 2014  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Ah, cychief, sarcasm becomes you. Good job.

  • February 28, 2014  - R W says:

    For those who need to know..ICT is the airline designation for Wichita. In fact there’s a local radio station there with those call letters: KICT-95.

    As far as John from ICT is concerned, he is a clever and sometimes even a brilliant contributor who disagrees with me often as I do him. It seems forever so but I enjoy the discourse even so.

  • February 28, 2014  - Johnfromwichita says:

    Hey, RW, I don’t think we disagree that much. Cyber-sibling rivalry maybe but important thing is we bleed red and gold.

    We are so good, actually, you can go back to having two fingers on the keyboard. Stuttering can be…cute.

    Not you cychief. Put the stupid iPhone away and find a real keyboard.

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