With such a huge emphasis on bringing in playmakers or football players, the Chiefs took stock in the fact that each of the early round draft picks played in an environment where the fans were just as rabid in their college stadiums as Chiefs fans are at Arrowhead.
After spending nearly two hours with Kansas City Chiefs Vice President of Player Personnel, Lynn Stiles on Friday we bantered back and forth as we do several times a year. This time we talked about the NFL Draft and to say he was pleased with the outcome would be putting it mildly. He's ecstatic and he's excited about the future of the players that the Chiefs plucked from the college ranks this weekend.
As we began breaking down all the player drafter, which will be featured in our next issue of Warpaint Illustrated, I really took notice and it dawned on me that the players they chose who they feel will make an impact this season; all came from great college programs.
Derrick Johnson (Texas), Patrick Surtain (Miami Dolphins), Dustin Colquitt (Tennessee) and Craphonso Thorpe (Florida State) all came from places or programs where winning was a standard and fan expectations came with the territory. All of them including Surtain played in packed environments where the only thing that mattered was winning football games.
DJ played four years at the University of Texas under the microscope of some of the most rabid fans in all of College Football. The Austin campus is one of the greatest places in all of college and Johnson was as close to a fold hero for the program as they've had in quite sometime. He played in big game after big game at home and on the road.
Same for Surtain, to a lesser degree but free agents who come from NFL teams where they don't sell out; generally have little comprehension of what it takes to play in a stadium and for a city that bleeds the teams colors 365 days a year like we do here in Kansas City. That's an important factor; especially when you consider the pressure that both DJ and Surtain will be under to turn around the Chiefs defense.
For Colquitt, not many college stadiums have that kind of environment like in Tennessee. Probably the most polished punter to come out of the college ranks in the last ten years, Colquitt played in a place that his father and cousin were all-Americans. Now that's pressure and in Kansas City if Stiles is right; Colquitt could end up being one of the best punters the Chiefs have had on their roster since the late Jerrel Wilson.
Craphonso Thorpe played four years for a Seminole team that exuded excellence. Their in-state battles with the University of Miami; won't pale in comparison with the AFC West battles ahead with the Chiefs against the Raiders or Broncos.
But that's why the Chiefs did their due diligence and made a conscious effort to go after players from big time programs. Though it's very early to tell if these four guys will make the same impact on the field in Kansas City but it's clear that the Chiefs set out to find players who they thought could make the fastest jump to playing under the microscope in Kansas City.
As Lynn Stiles told me, all the fans want is a winner and in order to accomplish that; you must have winners on your team. They want players who will work hard and give maximum effort on every play for not only their team but the fans. That might be the biggest statement he made to me on Friday. Last years team suffered far too many lapses on defense because they either let up or didn't give their all every time the ball was snapped.
The Chiefs front office found themselves players this off-season who could handle the intense pressure, the expectations and have the internal drive to be the best they can be for everyone on game days. They accomplished that with their first four picks last weekend.