Scott Pioli

Top 10 Draft Day Decision Makers

10. Thomas Dimitroff, Falcons
This Bill Belichick disciple rebuilt the Falcons in one draft, possibly even one draft pick, with Matt Ryan in 2008. What Dimitroff has accomplished in three drafts is impressive, and makes you wonder just how good he could make the Falcons in another three years.
Best 1st-round pick: Matt Ryan (2008)
Best late-round pick: Kroy Biermann (5th round, 2008)
Biggest bust: Peria Jerry (1st round, 2009)

9.  Mike Reinfeldt, Titans
Reinfeldt’s first two 1st-round picks (Micael Griffin, Chris Johnson) have already developed into Pro Bowlers, and Kenny Britt is poised for a breakout year in 2011. Reinfeldt has also started to get production from some late-round picks such as Jason McCourty, Gerald McRath and Alterraun Verner.
Best 1st-round pick: Chris Johnson (2008)
Best late-round pick: Jason McCourty (6th round, 2009)
Biggest bust: Chris Henry (2nd round, 2007)
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Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in Chargers, Chiefs, Colts, Falcons, Giants, Packers, Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, Titans 1 Comment

A look at the Chiefs Draft Board

We’re all but certain as to how the first three picks will play out, and I’ve detailed my thoughts on the Redskins decision earlier today. So here’s my best guess at what the Chiefs draft board looks like. Since they’re picking 5th, I’ll only include five players.

1. Russell Okung, Oklahoma State
He’s the best tackle in the draft and he’ll fit perfectly in Kansas City, supplanting Branden Albert at left tackle.

2. Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
The Chiefs don’t need a defensive lineman, but I also can’t see them passing up Suh if he were to fall and Okung were gone. He won’t fall though, so its a non-issue.

3. Bryan Bulaga, Iowa
Bulaga won’t be this high on every draft board, but he fits the profile of linemen Scott Pioli likes: physical, tough and smart. I can’t envision any scenario in which he isn’t still on the board at No. 5.

4. Trent Williams, Oklahoma
In the unlikely scenario in which Okung and Bulaga both went in the top five (to Detroit and Washington, I guess?) the Chiefs would likely settle for Williams. He isn’t exactly what they’re looking for, but they’re desperate to improve the protection for Matt Cassel.

5. Rolando McClain, Alabama
This is the longest shot of them all, but in the crazy scenario in which Okung, Suh, Bulaga and Williams went in the top four I believe the Chiefs would turn to McClain. He is a perfect fit for the 3-4 defense and fills an immediate need at inside linebacker.

No Eric Berry?
Yes, I left off Eric Berry. I realize that many mock drafts have the Chiefs taking Berry, however I don’t believe Scott Pioli has any interest in taking a safety in the top five. Pioli strongly believes that linemen and linebackers are the safest prospects and therefore should almost always be your selections in the top 10. A poor decision with the 5th pick in the draft can set a franchise back for years and Pioli isn’t interested in taking a gamble.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Chiefs Comments Off

Rolando McClain to the Chiefs Makes Sense

I’ve had Rolando McClain headed to the Chiefs in my mock draft for a few weeks now. And I don’t plan on changing it until I hear some information that will lead me in a new direction. I’m aware that I’m in the minority in this prediction (although Mike Band is now on board) so I figured I would take the time to further explain the reasoning behind my prediction.

The first reason is that linebacker is an obvious need. Yes, I know the offensive line needs some work as well, but there’s no reason to believe the Chiefs are ready to throw in the towel with Branden Albert and Ryan O’Callaghan. Albert, a 2008 1st-round pick, is still young and it is far too early to call him a bust. O’Callaghan may never be an elite lineman, but he’s a favorite of Scott Pioli who brought him over from New England. Russell Okung would be an upgrade, but I don’t believe the Chiefs view the tackle position as a glaring need that must be addressed in the 1st round.

The linebacker position, however, is in a state of crisis in Kansas City. Corey Mays and Demorrio Williams were the primary starters at inside linebacker, backed up by former 1st-round pick Derrick Johnson.

Pioli and new defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel want a linebacker to run the defense, much the way Tedy Bruschi did in New England. And the way McClain did for Nick Saban (a former defensive coordinator under Pioli’s tudor, Bill Belichick) at Alabama.

The second, and most important, reason for my prediction is that Scott Pioli has made his draft strategy very clear over the past few seasons. The top priority is ALWAYS to upgrade the front-seven, and only when that area is set will other positions be addressed. Additionally, he believes that offensive linemen essentially grow on trees, while quality defensive linemen and linebackers are harder to come by, thus making them a hot commodity early in the draft.

Pioli demonstrated this strategy last year by selecting defensive ends with each of his first two picks (Tyson Jackson, Alex Magee), and ignoring the need for an offensive lineman until the 5th round (Colin Brown).

But the trend goes back even further. Since becoming the Director of Player Personnel in New England in 2001, Pioli has been instrumental in the selection of four top-15 picks, all of which were spent on defensive ends and linebackers.

Pioli, who comes straight from the Bill Parcells/Bill Belichick player personnel school, has a long history of successful drafts to look back on. As NFL head coaches, Parcells and Belichick have made 16 top-15 selections. Only two of them have been offensive linemen. Belichick selected Steve Everitt with the 14th overall selection in 1993. Parcells selected Eric Moore 10th overall in 1988.

Seven of those 16 picks were, predictably, defensive linemen or linebackers.

Its only January. And there is certainly time for McClain’s stock to fall. But at this point in time, he looks like a legitimate top-10 pick and no matter what angle I look at it, he just seems like a slam dunk for the Chiefs.

Posted on by Ryan McCrystal in 2010 NFL Draft, Chiefs Comments Off