Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Evaluating the 2012 KC Chiefs draft 1 year later

Well, the 2013 season has been over for a bit now, and it's time to look back.

We have heard all the stories about the QB's and the retiring linebackers and such.  Now, it's draft season, and it's time to look back at how the teams did in last years...while we wait for the combine so we can get serious talking about this year's.

I am going to do a Team by Team evaluation, starting with the worst records.

So, first up, the Kansas City Chiefs.

It is pretty obvious, and has been to most people watching, that the Chiefs had hitched their wagon to the wrong horses. 

The looked at the success of the Patriots franchise and decided to try and emulate it.  That's not the worst idea, but they did it by stealing the employees from the Pats, rather than by trying to emulate their concepts of drafting wisely with the future and the locker room in mind, while being flexible enough in scheme to be successful when conditions aren't in your favor.

No, instead of doing that, the Chiefs hired Scott Pioli away and then picked up Matt Cassel.  Cassel was Pioli's move, and he overpaid, forging a strong link between the GM's ego and Cassel's role as the starting QB.  Cassel, flat-out, has not gotten in done, and Pioli is out the door.

Another mistake that was made by the old regime, was the marrying of the Chiefs to the 3-4 scheme that the Patriots had success with in their early years.  What the Chiefs forgot to notice was that the Pats had success in that scheme because they had the players to run the scheme.  They had big, dominant, D-Linemen with smart, athletic, linebackers behind them who could play in all facets. 

The Chiefs did have some of the players, but they were never able to build the D-Line necessary to be dominant in the scheme. 

So, enough proselytizing about what Pioli and minions did wrong, let's look how his last draft as GM is looking a year later.
Pick #11: Dontari Poe NT, Memphis

Poe was the most noted workout-warrior at the Combine, where he shot himself from a second round grade into the top half of the first round.  He has the raw ability to be the kind of D-Lineman that the Chiefs were looking for to keep their linebacking corp clean to make plays at 346 lbs with surprising speed and agility. 

There were concerns as he was not as dominant as a player with his athletic ability would be expected to be, especially playing in C-USA.  He was smart enough to end his hold out in time to show up to camp on time, and it paid off in time.  Initially he lost out on the starting job to Anthony Toribio, but held onto the starting job after getting a shot when Toribio got injured.  You don't look for big stats from a Nose Tackle, but his 38 tackles in just over half a season starting is encouraging.  This was neither the home run that was hoped for, nor the disaster that many predicted. 

With the Chiefs rumored move away from the 4-3 scheme, it will be interesting to see how Poe fits as many thought he may be better suited to a 4-3 which would allow him to attack more, rather than just absorb blocks.  It is conceivable that the Chiefs could lay out  a front 4 with Tamba Hali and Tyson Jackson as Ends, with Poe and Glenn Dorsey at Tackle.  That sounds, to me, like it would play to the strengths of those players better than the 3 man front has to this point.

Pick #44: Jeff Allen OL, Illinois

The pick of Jeff Allen in the second round was one of those "who? from where?" moments for Kansas City fans, but it turned out to be a well used pick.  Allen took over the starting spot at left guard in week 4 and looks to hold onto the position going forward. 

Allen has the potential to play at Tackle as well, being better suited to the right side being an agile lineman who does not possess overwhelming athletic attributes for the position.  Moves well, and has very good technique.

Pick #74: Donald Stephenson OT, Oklahoma

Stephenson was another solid pick for the O-Line, but the fruits may take longer to be seen with Brandon Albert in front of him.  He is a very mobile lineman who can be dominant in the running game, especially in pulling and trapping situations.  He is not overwhelmingly strong however, and will need more weight in order to be a premier left tackle.  He did start 7 games as a rookie and acquitted himself fairly well.  This was not a sexy pick, but with the state of the Chiefs line prior to last year, it was a need and Stephenson may just fill it as he can provide depth at both Tackle positions.  The jury is still out on whether or not he is a premier left tackle prospect, but I think he could be a quality starter at Right Tackle at minimum.

Pick #107: Devon Wylie WR, Fresno State

Wylie was an interesting pick as he seemed to be redundant with Dexter McCluster in being a smaller receiver with very good speed.  That appeared to be what the Chiefs realized too as Wylie barely saw the field as a rookie.  He continues to have good speed, but this doesn't look to have been a well used pick at this point.

It will be interesting to see what happens if Dwayne Bowe leaves as appears to be a very solid possibility at this point. 

Pick #146: DeQuan Menzie CB, Alabama

Menzie didn't do much as a rookie.

He is likely to be hard pressed to have much success in the NFL as a cornerback because he just don't have the wheels to run with the best receivers.  He is good in press coverage and knows how to play the position, but will always be susceptible to deep routes by the faster receivers in the league.  He was a reasonable risk at this stage, but could likely land as a safety, if he lands at all.

Pick #182: Cyrus Gray RB, Texas A and M

Pick 218: Jerome Long DT, San Diego State

Lang is not on the Chiefs roster, having been cut and picked up by Jacksonville.  He is at the bottom of the depth chart for the Jaguars, but that's not terrible from a  7th rounder. 

Pick 238: Junior Hemingway WR, Michigan

Hemingway was cut after the pre-season, but was on the roster at the end of the year.  He didn't record any catches as a rookie however, and will be hard pressed to stick for his second year.  He does bring one asset that the Chiefs may be missing in their group of Wide Receivers if Bowe departs though....he is big.  His 6'1 height is ok, but he is 222 lbs and can be a very physical receiver. 

That said, let's not talk like Heminway is slow, he was clocked in the 4.5 range consistently in his workouts.  If Bowe leaves, he could have a spot in formations that call for 2 larger outside receivers.  If he sticks, this is a great pick at the bottom of a draft.
Overall, this was a pretty boring draft, but it is the kind of draft that improves a football team.  The problem with the Chiefs is that they still need a QB if they are going to be a good football team.  Their O-Line graded out decent and has some depth, which allowed them to have a very good rushing attack despite having no balance in their offense.  Their defense was also solid, it was just on the field too much. 
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