Talkin’ Draft With Pioli … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs

Scott Pioli walked into the room one minute after 10 o’clock on Friday morning at the Chiefs facility.

No big deal, since the media horde has learned long ago that part of life in the big leagues is sitting around and waiting. That Pioli was but 60 seconds behind hardly registered as being tardy.

For the next 21 minutes, Pioli spoke and answered questions. Anyone expecting to hear great detail on the direction of the Chiefs in the 2011 NFL Draft was certainly disappointed.

How they could possibly have expected a news bolt from the blue is hard to believe. Pioli doesn’t speak often to the media – in fact, this was his first press conference with the K.C. media since the opening days of training camp last summer – and when he does speak, Pioli is pleasant in demeanor and seemingly earnest in his replies.

But to say he does not expose the cards he’s holding would be the understatement of the year.

Draft preparation is hitting its final stages and there’s a great deal of discussion going on about the qualities of individual players. Coaches and scouts are returning from the road where they’ve gotten a last look at quite a few players.

Some of these new evaluations create arguments between coaches, scouts and administrators – it’s all a natural part of the process when it comes to preparing for the draft. It’s welcomed by Pioli.

“We encourage it by doing it and there’s never a feeling of intimidation or shouting people down,” Pioli said. “I’ve seen and heard of places where there are disagreements and they’ll throw someone’s opinions out the window or talk a person down. There is no component of disrespect in our meetings. We encourage it and it’s important because we have a nice mix of older coaches and scouts and younger coaches and scouts.

“What happens is different people see different things, they see players different ways. When different people sit down with individual players, asking the same questions and getting the same answers, they have a different perception of where the player may be coming from, or what they are saying, or how they are saying it.”

Pioli acknowledged it’s time for him to listen during these meetings: “The process is one of checks and balances aimed at eliminating previous mistakes. I know some of my limitations as an evaluator and some of the mistakes that I have made in the past. So it’s time for me to listen.”

Last year’s division championship and six-game improvement from the season before has elevated the Chiefs to the level of contender in the league. After drafting No. 5, 3 and 5 in the last three drafts, they are sitting at pick No. 21 in the first-round of the 2011 Draft.

“We see a team that’s started to make some progress and we are encouraged,” Pioli said. “But we have an acute understanding that we are still very far off from where we want to be.”

What will the Chiefs look for in the Draft? Everything says Pioli.

“I don’t think there is a position on this team where there isn’t a need. You are never set at any one position. Bad things can happen to players, so you had better be ready with the next player.”

There’s always a constant battle inside the decision making process of football teams between the best available athlete and drafting for need. There’s enough evidence in league and Chiefs history to show that when need becomes the driving force, disaster follows.

The Chiefs needed a defensive tackle in 2002 and they reached for Ryan Sims, an obvious mistake. Pioli wanted a foundation piece for his defense with the first pick of 2009 and he reached for DE Tyson Jackson.

“Something that I feel strongly about and Todd (Haley) feels strongly about is the mentality that you’re never set at any one position because whether a player leaves you or not via free agency, there are bad things that can happen to players and your team so you better be ready with the next player,” Pioli said. “So the answer is we have a need at every position. Some are ranked higher than others for immediacy but that doesn’t mean that you run from another position.

“This goes into the whole thing of trying to find a delicate balance between best player available and need. You can’t focus in on a one-year or even a two-year frame of thinking because then you set yourself up for failure if you’re trying to build a consistent winner.”

10 Responses to “Talkin’ Draft With Pioli … Saturday Cup O’Chiefs”

  • April 16, 2011  - James says:

    This press conference was a waste of everyone’s time and energy. But it’s required I guess. Only thing I could take out of it was the Chief’s will probably draft another DE.

  • April 16, 2011  - RW says:

    Pioli has indeed mastered the art of talking without saying anything. Top level politicians would have a kinship with him. So, are the Chiefs going for need, BPA or taking the guy where those lines converge?

    If it’s the latter, there are arguably about 5-6 different guys that fill the bill. Then it gets down to who’s more right than wrong on their evaluations? I still say, using his own words, the jury is still out on Pioli’s drfting acumen.

    He and the franchise can ill afford another mailed-in job vis a vis the 2009 draft and outside of the Cassel trade and Succop, that one still requires the pinching of one’s nostrils.

  • April 16, 2011  - Haley's Ego says:

    One thing I can say for sure is…

    Thank God we’re not picking in the Top 5 again.

    For all the talk and analysis…the NFL Draft is hit-and-miss, with large amount of luck thrown in. That goes for everyone, not just Scott Pioli.

  • April 16, 2011  - el cid says:

    21 minutes of crap. That is how Pioli runs and that is ok by me. Two drafts, one lousy and one average++. Not wheeling and dealing like NE. All safe picks. This “genius” will have to prove it this year, another Jackson reach or 2nd round attack of the little people and the glitter will be gone.

  • April 16, 2011  - Adam S says:

    El Cid, what are you talking about “Average” we got at least three starters out of that last draft(Berry, Moe, Lewis). Not to mention a very solid nickel DB and a (Potentially) explosive running back. Yes, his draft before that was pretty crappy, but we have a legit kicker now :)

    Here’ to hoping he’s right about TJack. Personally, I don’t see anything but a OLB or Olineman at our spot. Which I would be ok with.

  • April 16, 2011  - el cid says:

    Like you comments on three starters that is why ++s. Who is the nickle DB, not Arenas, he was picked in the second round, THE SECOND ROUND FOR A NICKLE BACK (a small person at that)? As for McCluster, a really big question mark, injuries. Lastly, check out Succop’s stats, dropped from his first year. Hopefully, he will be better this year, but legit a strong maybe, but a maybe anyway.

    As for T. Jackson, just a kid, no way, no how the third best player out of college, PERIOD.

    Still only two drafts from Pioli, let us see what direction he goes this year (hopefully with Haley and coaches imput). We can decide after the 2012 draft if Pioli is the best thing since sliced bread or just ok.

  • April 16, 2011  - el cid says:

    I doubt anyone expects Pioli to say anything, it is not his style. But we do not have to like his style. If you think Pioli’s two drafts were the difference makers in achieving 10 wins last year, come on, Haley and coaching gets a little credit also. Also Charles, Bowe to name a few non-Pioli players. So…..Bye.

  • April 17, 2011  - Milkman says:

    How is it that the same teams (Patriots and Eagles to name two) come into EVERY draft with multiple picks? I’m sure Pioli and Peterson before him tried to get more picks, but were unsuccessful. That is why these teams are consistently in the mix at playoff time. And Baltimore and Pittsburgh seem to hit on more of their picks than most other teams. It is amazing how all the other teams just keep trading their picks to them. You’d think if Belechik called on or before draft day these people would just hang up the phone.

  • April 17, 2011  - el cid says:

    Isn’t it in how the team views its process? NE dumps players when they consider them sliding. In turn, they also will pick up a vet to fill in. Pioli has not been here long enough to do that. First the team was terrible when he took over. Second, I am not sure he was any kind of driving force with the Belechik moving around style.

    Go back to Stram’s heyday, he held on to his beloved vets with no replacements on the roster. So we need to give Pioli a chance to get his team in place and then see if he is the wheelerdealer type from NE (I may have vomitted a bit saying that). Chances are he isn’t.

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