Five Things I Think: NFL Draft

With the owners and player still bickering over billions of dollars, the Kansas City Chiefs are hard at work preparing for the upcoming NFL Draft. But they better be ready to add some free agents, if and when, the two sides eventually come to the senses.

1. What's the 2011 Plan? - It's clear that in two years as the teams General Manager, Scott Pioli has hit mightily on one draft, 2010 and missed completely on his first back in 2009. In his first year, he drafted defensive end Tyson Jackson who has been anything but an impact player for the Chiefs defense.

However, I'm nowhere close to labeling him a bust because it took two years for Glenn Dorsey to develop into a strong defensive end. That means Jackson gets the benefit of the doubt for 2011. However, that didn't stop Pioli from spending a lot of time at the NFL Combines scouting potential defensive ends that might merit selection in Kansas City in April.

And if the Chiefs are going to ignore their need for a stud wide receiver in round one and a pass sacking outside linebacker like Georgia's Justin Houston or Missouri's Aldon Smith, then he's going to have his pick of some outstanding defensive ends.

For my money, Iowa Hawkeye defensive end Adrian Clayborn, is a can't miss NFL project. He comes from good stock, has tremendous size and is a fierce competitor on the field. Plus Pioli and Iowa Head Coach Kirk Ferentz are close friends and there isn't any doubt that the scouting report Pioli has on Clayborn is far more in depth than any other team might get on the soon to be first round draft pick.

Still the Chiefs have to hit another homerun – like they did a year ago with Safety Eric Berry - with their first round pick in 2011. Pioli's mantra since he took over the reigns from Carl Peterson was to build this team through the draft. He built a strong foundation with the 2010 class but in my view the 2011 class has to be even better.

2. Bill Grigsby - It's a sad day for me after learning the news over the weekend that broadcaster and humanitarian Bill Grigsby succumbed to cancer. He was on of the greatest, if not the greatest, ambassador that the Kansas City Chiefs have had in their rich history.

Bill Grigsby might have been the Kansas City Chiefs greatest Ambassador.
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Grigsby was the heart and soul of the Chiefs for much of the teams' lulls after their Super Bowl IV victory. When the aforementioned Peterson came to the Chiefs in the winter of 1988 it was Grigsby who introduced Peterson to the power brokers in Kansas City that would eventually lead to making Arrowhead Stadium a must see event on Sunday afternoons.

But what I loved most about Bill was his positive outlook on life. Martini glass aside, he was by far the most full of life person I've ever met. The last time I sat down with him was at the National Golf Course a few years back. We talked for hours about the old Chiefs and the new Chiefs.

He'd bring up the old stories as if they happened just yesterday. And he always felt that the Chiefs would someday become World Champs again. Now he joins the recently departed Tony DiPardo up in Heaven and maybe the two of them can pull a few strings and make that Super Bowl dream for Kansas City happen once again.

3. WR Sidney Rice - If there is one free agent that the Kansas City Chiefs must sign at all costs whenever free agency begins, it has to be Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Sidney Rice. Over the weekend the Vikings made a long-term contract offer to Rice and he quickly turned it down. He has no interest in giving the Vikings, who are one of several teams interested in moving to Los Angeles, any sort of hometown deal.

Free Agent Minnesota Vikings Wide Receiver Sydney Rice just turned down a long-term contract to stay in the twin cities .
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He wants his money and he wants it now. With the Chiefs at the lowest end of the payroll spectrum in the NFL, they have a boatload of cash to entice Rice to line up opposite Dwayne Bowe in 2011.

Still signing Rice is a big risk. He's injury prone to say the least but maybe those days are behind him. The Chiefs on the plus side have one of the best strength and conditioning programs in the NFL and that alone probably could assist Rice in staying healthy this season.

As we saw in the playoffs, without another receiver to play opposite Bowe, the Chiefs offense is limited when they're forced to pass the ball. And Rice would instantly upgrade KC's offense prowess this season.

Right now I think he's plan ‘A' because I can't see the Chiefs dealing for Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. I don't think he's worth a first and third round pick. Right now he's hoping to get a huge deal from Arizona, and though talks were encouraging a few months ago, they seem to have cooled with the CBA still in a state of flux.

Rice will be a hot property once the free agent floodgates open and if the Chiefs want to make an immediate splash in free agency they need to sign Rice.

4. Powder Nonsense - Leave it up to the media to blow something out of proportion. PFT first reported the incident over the weekend that involved TSA officials questioning a current Chiefs player over a powder substance that was found next to the teams chartered bus in Oakland back on November 7th.

In November the Chiefs lost to the Raiders in Oakland and after the game the team bus was delayed for nearly three hours.
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The unknown player was questioned for nearly three hours and as PFT pointed out the substance was white and one can draw their own conclusion as to why TSA officials thought it might be drugs.

However the Associated Press picked up the story and clarified that the powder that lay next to the bus that was seen by a Raiders staffer was a nutritional substance that wasn't illegal in nature.

So in the end it wasn't really that big a story. And honestly the way it was portrayed when the news broke initially indicated that it was newsworthy now when it wasn't four months ago.

5. NFT: KC Royals - One meaningless spring training game doesn't mean much but I have to admit that from the people I've talked with in Surprise Arizona about the KC Royals has been positive. In fact so much so, that I'm going to go out on a huge ledge.

New Royals Outfielder Jeff Francoeur belted the teams first sprint training home run on Sunday as KC defeated the Texas Rangers 4-2.
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With so many young prospects on the way to the big leagues in the next 16 months, the Kansas City Royals are poised for a surprise season. And it's going to be the blending of that youth movement with some veterans that could be the Royals ultimate catalyst to their sudden rise to respectability this season.

General Manager Dayton Moore has also stepped up his game. Now that's he armed with the best manager under his tenure in Kansas City, Ned Yost, and the games premier minor league system, he has already begun to indicate that he expects at some point in the next couple of years that his team is going to win division titles.

And he's right. For the first time, we can arguably say that the Royals, though they might be a year away from being a contender for an AL Central crown, have reason to hope.

Opening day is still some thirty days away and we're not sure what impact the Royals diaper dandies will have the first month of the season. But with a solid veteran core that doesn't have many of its players over thirty, they're playing with a dual purpose.

They all know to a player that in two years many, if not all of them, won't even be on the Royals opening day roster in 2012 or 2013. But they can set the tone and possibly become a fixture in Kansas City with the young nucleolus by having career years in 2011.

To me that means that right now they have a chance to give the Royals a chance to win more games than they lose come April and May when this team will define itself. With a very weak schedule to open the first two months of the year, Kansas City with solid pitching, stellar defense and some clutch two-out hits, might just be the talk of baseball even before their future stars hit the big leagues.

The AL Central has plenty of issues. The Twins have injury and pitching woes, the Tigers are aging, the White Sox are infighting and the Indians just don't have the players the Royals do at any level.

Many feel that the 2011 season is going to see the Royals lose 100 games but I don't think that's going to be the case. They could climb to .500 and be drafting in the middle of the pack in June of 2012. And that more than anything might say what the future holds for this organization.

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