Taking Out the Garbage: First Round Impact

For years, the Chiefs franchise had steadily been making a name for being an organization that emphatically whiffed on draft picks. Whether it was high in the 1st or in the catacombs of the 7th round, it seemed as though all of KC's picks were cursed for failure. But is Scott Pioli the witchdoctor that will lift the curse?

Pioli has been groomed for the position he currently holds in Kansas City for quite some time. In his various stops in cities like Cleveland, Baltimore, New York, and New England, Pioli made a name for himself as a shrewd business man, but an excellent yet fair evaluator of talent.

The Chiefs, on the other hand, have been in the midst of a talent drought. When Pioli was brought aboard two years ago, the Chiefs' draft day miscues rivaled parching stories of the Old Testament. In fact, from 2000 to 2009, 80 players were selected and only 14 are currently still with the team. Those numbers are even worse than they appear when you consider 6 of those 14 were drafted in 2008.

But the late push by King Carl and then head coach Herm Edwards to resurrect this franchise was too little too late. The Chiefs fan base, although loyal, demands progress. Tired of the lack of young prospects, the pressure from the fans proved too heavy as Clark Hunt cut ties with longtime GM Carl Peterson.

As the old football saying goes "teams are built through the draft", so with such poor talent evaluation it should be no surprise to anyone that the Chiefs averaged 9 losses per season with a 70-90 win-loss record during that ten year span.

Sitting at 8-5 with three games to go, however, the Chiefs are set to at the very least finish the season without a losing record for the first time in four seasons and this is a direct result of good drafting. The Chiefs have made 27 selections in the past three drafts and 55% of those selected are either starters or major contributors this season.

If the Chiefs can continue their draft day success they will instantly go from one of the worst drafting teams to one of the best within a three-year period. This is exactly what Hunt had in mind when bringing Pioli aboard.

As a measure of his success, look to the loss last week in San Diego. In one of the worst shutouts in Chiefs history, both of this top draft picks played one of their best games.

General Manager Scott Pioli isn't getting enough credit for his young core of players.
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Eric Berry and Tyson Jackson have some lofty expectations given their draft position and the high dollars that come along with that. But I believe it is very telling how, in a game where the Chiefs were lacking leadership and heart on either side of the ball, that the two players who the Chiefs will rely upon most in the coming years set an example for the rest of the team.

Between the two, they combined for 13 tackles, two pass deflections, an interception, and a sack. That's exactly what you want to see out of young and developing players with a lot of expectations. When the chips were down, neither of these young guys folded. You can't say the same about some of the veterans on this squad.

Even after the game when some would opt to hide from the public eye, Berry showed grace beyond his years and answered to reporters on the worst of days.

"I guess we just weren't that into it…I don't know what was going on."

But that's just it.

The rookie safety is focused and driven like few in the NFL. He knows that his team didn't put in a strong effort and getting everyone better is what's likely going to drive him to Canton someday. And the young kid from Tennessee doesn't shy way from those expectations; he already expects them of himself

On the heels of the 31-0 loss to the San Diego Chargers, it's hard to remain positive. But as the core of young and developing players continue to progress, so will the optimism and expectations of the Chiefs fan base.

And although it's easy to lose perspective on this season regardless of what happens the next three games, let's not forget where this organization was before the year started.

So despite the stinging loss at San Diego, the main goal this season was to develop the young guys into dependable foundations for the future. I think we can safely say, regardless of how things end this year, that it has been a complete success.

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