Stuck On Value … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs

It’s a relatively recent phenomenon in the days after NFL Drafts to judge the value of a team’s draft choices.

There’s nothing that pundits, critics, draftniks and even fellow personnel types like to do more than debate the quality of a team’s selections. The conversation always centers on how the drafted players were lined up before the draft and how they went off the board during the seven rounds. Did a team reach to draft a player who was rated significantly lower because they were trying to fill a need? How much did a player fall in the run up to the draft, whether it was a positive drug test or second thoughts by the evaluators?

For instance, there are a host of “draft experts” who say the Chiefs reached for first-round draft choice Jonathan Baldwin, that he wasn’t a talent rated in the first round. There’s the belief that they got lucky when with third-round choice Justin Houston (left), who dropped from the first round to the third.

So called reaches and value picks are in the eye of the beholder. There can be a significant difference of opinion on a player evaluation, one that when placed on a grid, could mean the difference of three or four rounds.

In the last few days I’ve been on the phone with folks around the league who prepared for this draft and know all the bodies big and small, draftable and free agents. I wasn’t looking for anybody to grade the Chiefs ’11 Draft. Rather, I wanted to know where other sources rated the players selected by the red and gold.

NFL teams all have subtle differences in the methods they use to grade players. But at one point or another, they tend to put them in some sort of order, whether one through 250 or on levels based on the round. For instance, they’ll rate players as potential first-round choices as 1+, 1 or 1-. The chances are good they won’t have 32 players listed as first-round picks. From there, they do the same thing in rounds two through seven.

My sources with three NFL teams were willing to share this basic information with me. I added to that a public source that is respected around the league, Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News. Believe me when I tell you that nobody has more phone numbers into NFL draft decision makers than Goose. Every year, a few days before the draft, he releases his top 100 rated players. I can tell you there are teams that check it out to make sure they haven’t somehow undervalued somebody.

OK, so here are the pre-draft ratings of three teams and Goose of the players selected by the Chiefs.

 Players

 Rnd.

 #

Team #1

Team #2

Team #3

Rick Gosselin

Jon Baldwin

1

26

32

25

41

37

Rodney Hudson

2

55

44

62

52

66

Justin Houston

3

70

*

34

26

*

Allen Bailey

3

86

98

81

69

58

Jalil Brown

4

118

79

88

97

83

Ricky Stanzi

5

135

93

77

70

91

Gabe Miller

5

140

X

X

X

X

Jerrell Powe

6

199

77

93

100t**

98

Shane Bannon

7

223

X

X

X

X

*- removed from top 100 after a positive drug test at the NFL Combine. ** - rated in a group of 10 players at No. 100. X – Not rated among the top 100 players.

Let’s look at each draft choice individually:

Baldwin – Did the Chiefs reach for the WR out of Pittsburgh? The ratings given Baldwin across the board from these teams and Gosselin would say no. In fact, it’s not even close. The Chiefs along with each of the three teams and Goose had Baldwin rated the No. 3 receiver in this year’s class, behind only A.J. Green and Julio Jones.

I don’t know that the NFL has a definition of reach, but I’m willing to say it would be taking a player a good round-and-a-half higher than their overall rating. That would be 48 spots. If they reached for Baldwin, the Chiefs never had to get out of their draft room chairs.

Hudson – There were mixed opinions among NFL teams on the Florida State C/G largely because of his size; he played at a relatively small 285 pounds for the Seminoles. The Chiefs grabbed him at No. 55, and the other three teams and Goose rated him on average at No. 56.

Just about every team in the league viewed him as a mid-second round choice and the No. 2 center in this draft. He was taken as the No. 3 center, after the Raiders grabbed Stefan Wisniewski out of Penn State with the pick No. 48, seven spots ahead of the Hudson.

Houston – The Georgia product fell as far as just about anyone at the top of the NFL Draft, dropping anywhere from 40 to 50 slots. That the Chiefs got him with the 70th pick qualifies as value, or rather gambling value. If Houston has a problem staying available because he can’t pass drug tests or he doesn’t mature, or take his opportunity seriously.

This pick is probably the only time in the Draft that Chiefs got off the route where they had these players rated. At No. 70, he was simply too good a prospect to pass up.

Bailey – The defensive lineman from Miami has gotten a lot of attention from pundits as a reach by the Chiefs. But check out his ratings from the other teams and Goose. He averaged to the 76th-rated player. He was taken with the 86th pick, so that’s hardly a reach.

Brown – Another player that various pundits and fans believe was a reach for the Chiefs, taken at No. 118. But everyone else had him rated in their top 100 players, and he averaged out to No. 87. He may not have gotten a lot of attention from the media and fans around the league, but it’s obvious the teams evaluated him as a third or fourth-round player.

Stanzi – Was viewed by the other teams and Gosselin as on average the 83rd best player in this year’s draft, or a solid third-round selection. But he didn’t go until the Chiefs grabbed him in the fifth-round. That’s a pretty good value.

Miller – No team had this conversion tight end-to defensive end-to linebacker rated among their top 100 players. That likely included the Chiefs as well. Whether he could have been selected in the sixth or seventh round, or signed as an undrafted free agent is mere speculation now. But obviously, the Chiefs had him rated higher. So was Miller a reach? At that point of the draft, it looks that way.

Powe – There was a wide range of opinion on the big man from Mississippi. One team viewed him as an early third-round talent, while another had him pegged for the fifth round or later. The Chiefs got him late so score him as a value pick for Pioli.

Bannon – Very few teams had him on their draft boards, let alone rated highly. But there were enough teams behind the Chiefs in the drafting order who had worked out the Yale fullback. So rather than wait for post draft free agency, Pioli used his least valuable pick. No big gamble or reach there.

As you can see, based on the way these three teams judged players, the only big gambles that Pioli took was throwing a couple of picks the way of players with some character questions with Houston and Powe, and using two of his three late choices on players that weren’t rated very high.


8 Responses to “Stuck On Value … Thursday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • May 5, 2011  - RW says:

    Excellent story and analysis. I’ve posted the following story before but it bears repeating, especially on the theme of Bob’s report.

    Jerry Glanville, commenting on Sirius NFL radio a few weeks ago was asked about drafting for need vs value. Glanville: “A lot of GMs and owners are about getting value in their picks while the coaches I know want players they need.”

    Continuing, “Like the time when I was coaching Atlanta. Deion Sanders had just left the team and we were desperate for CB help so on the first round pick, the GM went for value and drafted a 300lb+ OT and bragged to me about the value he achieved with the pick. I asked him, ‘okay, who’s he going to cover?’”

    Funny guy and story but profound as well. It sure seems to me that the Chiefs got the players they and the coaching staff needed and that’s a good draft in my book.


  • May 5, 2011  - Shawn says:

    This is a great article. Very interesting. Thanks for doing the research Bob.


  • May 5, 2011  - el cid says:

    While it is interesting to see just what others think of our picks, like those A+ grades, it is more important what the team grades its picks. Do not know how these picks will turn out, may all bust. But I like the idea I read behind it. Actual talent, reaches (we will see, won’t we), for my uneducated mind, a good draft the best in the three year Pioli regime.


  • May 5, 2011  - Fansince93 says:

    I know NFL content is light these days and you limited material to work with so this was a really good read and piece of journalism. Nice work Bob!


  • May 5, 2011  - Alphaman says:

    Great article and analysis. Question: Can we legitimately say that Miller was a reach just because noone had him in their top 100. He was taken at #140 so we don’t know if they had him rated at 125 or 225.


  • May 6, 2011  - ED says:

    Most of these so called experts who say we reached for some of these guys are idiots. Your analysis clearly shows most of our picks were not reaches. Most experts felt like we had C-grade draft but they said same thing about last year’s draft and we all know how that turned out. Funny thing is I think this draft is better than last yr draft


  • May 9, 2011  - SG says:

    “Question: Can we legitimately say that Miller was a reach just because noone had him in their top 100.”

    No – we have more compelling reasons to do so – such as – how does the guy fit into our scheme? Were there other players at those spots who would have been more use to our team in our scheme? I dare say the answer is probably “yes.” If people are saying “what in the world is Don Pioli thinking” after he selects a player, then it’s probably a reach.


  • May 10, 2011  - JT says:

    Great Breakdown. This is what we pay for. If you could get all 31 other team to compare against, that would be great… Of course you probably could sell that for a little more than our subscriptions.




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