Big Risk Higher Rewards for Pioli

When the 2011 NFL draft began Thursday night, the Kansas City Chiefs had a long laundry list of needs that had to be filled. After two days and four picks, General Manager Scott Pioli will begin Saturday with a much shorter list.

The debate each year when the NFL Draft comes rolling around is how to evaluate the balance between team needs and how valuable a player is at the time you select him. Through two days the Chiefs and General Manager Scott Pioli seem to have done a remarkable balancing the fine line that often determines success or failure when you're taken risks on player that you're not sure will ever become superstars or even serviceable back-ups.

Coming into the draft most people felt that the Chiefs needs included Wide Receiver, Nose Tackle, Pass Rushing Linebacker, Backup Quarterback and Center. By the end of day two, the Chiefs managed to cut that list in half.

On Thursday night, Pioli shocked the NFL by addressing one of the Chiefs most glaring of needs by drafting Pittsburgh Wide Receiver, Jonathan Baldwin.

Hudson will start his KC experience at Center.
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Friday he started the Chiefs portion of the draft with a bang by nabbing Florida State Center Rodney Hudson, who the Chiefs took in the second round. And from all accounts, the selection of Hudson appears to be the teams most conservative pick on Friday.

Hudson is the kind of player that is hard to root against. Hudson worked at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in high school to help his sick, single mother, keep up with the bills.

And it's those nights spend over the grease fryer, that helped mold the work ethic that the Chiefs and Pioli in particular are looking for in Kansas City. Hudson's early dedication to work and help his family made this four-year starter extremely disciplined on and off the player. In 826 snaps at Florida State, Hudson was remarkably flagged only one time for a holding penalty.

Towards the end of the Dick Vermiel era, the Chiefs neglected to get younger on the offensive line and desperately paid the price for several years after. With the addition of Hudson and last years third round selection, Jon Asomoah, the Chiefs suddenly have an arsenal of talented, young and versatile lineman that should sustain the Chiefs offensive line for years to come.

But as disciplined as Hudson seems to be, those same character traits don't seem to apply to the Chiefs next pick, Outside Linebacker Justin Houston.

Justin Houston isn't fazed about his slide from round one to three.
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Houston was widely viewed as a first round pick until a story broke several weeks back about him failing a drug test at the NFL Combines causing his stock to drop significantly.

However, Houston's error in judgment could become a draft coup for the Chiefs. Because if this pass rushing machine can dedicate himself to working hard and staying out of trouble, the man some considered as the best pass rusher in college a year ago, could become a superstar in this league.

But we're a long ways away from those accolades.

Shortly after he was drafted by the Chief she spoke to the media and he seemed a bit aloof or was he? When he was asked if he watched much NFL football by local reporters shortly after the Chiefs announced the pick but Houston surprised everyone in the room when he said, "I don't watch much football." Nor does he idolize any other NFL players. Again that's not a bad thing. Because honestly I didn't get a sense he had a chip on his shoulder at all.

The fact that Houston spends more time playing football than watching it can be chalked up to focus and dedication but when questioned more it was hard to pinpoint what Houston's drive will be in the NFL.

Still he realized his mistakes and wasn't surprised his fall from grace landed him in the top end of the third round. To the Chiefs credit, they did their homework on Houston whereas other teams that spoke with Houston May not have taken his word that he's going to overcome his issues.

Houston is undeniably one of the most explosive pass rushers in the 2011 draft class and if he indeed has some fire behind his bloodshot eyes than the Chiefs may have gotten a steal in round three. If Houston comes into training camp focused and driven, he will be a very disruptive weapon when paired opposite of Tamba Hali.

With their final pick of day two, Pioli was able to land another defensive player when he surprisingly took Miami Defensive End Allen Bailey.

Allen Bailey will earn playing time based on how well he can adapt to one roll on the Chiefs defense.
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If the Chiefs ran the traditional 4-3 defense this pick would make much more sense. But at 6'3" this 285-pound chiseled Hurricane has to find a place on this defense. Pioli talked about his ability to play inside or outside but he'd like to find one spot for Bailey and let him learn that position. Wherever he ends up on the defensive line, one thing you can say about Bailey is that he is very athletic and if the Chiefs can coach him up he could be a solid player in a year or two just like Wallace Gilberry was for Kansas City in 2010.

That means until Bailey can earn his stripes at the next level, he will be used mostly in situational passing downs as an inside rusher.

All in all, if you're a Chiefs fan, to be unsatisfied as a Chiefs fan at this point in the draft. Because with one day remaining, the Chiefs have addressed multiple needs. And even without free agency, Kansas City appears to be as Pioli put it in his post draft comments Friday evening, a much better, stronger and faster football team.

That remains to be seen because what happens in April doesn't always equate to wins on the field in December and January.

But Pioli's 2010 draft class made an instant impact and from all accounts the four players he took on Thursday and Friday could be just as good or better as his previous draft class.

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