Deal Or No Deal?

The deals come and the deals go. The deals that stick should be the ones that are supposed to make a difference. Whoever might be seen as the next great hope at whatever position will be looked at by fans as the great cure. Can they be the balm for a team that is weary and sore from so many slip-ups?

General Managers and personnel directors on every team are cautious of making a commitment to a high draft pick but at the same time the business people look for the best deal. It really comes down to the draft board score. Every team places a certain value for a certain position on the draft board.

What a lot of observers fail to realize is that in order to achieve the goal of getting the best value, you may have to trade out of your designated position. Should the score at the position the team sits in match the player available, you make the pick.

Let's look at a couple of scenarios. The Chiefs have the number three pick in the 2009 draft. Does that mean they have to pick the number three? Absolutely not. What it means is they will have the right player available scored at that position.

Say they have a highly scored tackle, quarterback or linebacker. Which do they pick? You pick the player who most closely matches your score for that position, closely matches your need and who is available. If none of the available players meet your score for that position in the draft, it's time to trade.

Often, there are many teams who have drastically different needs and may score a different position higher than your own team. Here's where planning comes into play. In order to meet the needs of your team you have to make sure you've done your homework on the available players.

What if you have more than one highly scored player available at your draft position? You should probably take your most urgent need. If you don't have an urgent need, you should take the best available athlete at that draft position. Unfortunately, some teams get into internal disputes and the result is something unexpected, which is what happened in the 2003 draft when Larry Johnson was taken 27th overall.

The Chiefs already had Priest Holmes. The need was on the other side of the ball. Head Coach Dick Vermeil had identified defense as the phase that needed the most help. Carl Peterson fell for Johnson's athleticism. A big, bruising back like LJ was the perfect backup running back behind Holmes in Peterson's thinking.

Johnson's draft score was probably high, but apparently not worth the 16th pick. The Chiefs originally had that pick and Peterson felt that Johnson would be available further down, and he might be able to also acquire extra picks. Vermeil apparently didn't have Johnson scored as highly as Peterson.

Despite Vermeil's protests, Peterson ended up trading down with Pittsburgh for the 27th overall pick in the first round (LJ), the 92nd overall pick in the third round (CB Julian Battle) and the 200th overall pick in the sixth round that they traded to the Jets. In exchange, Pittsburgh took safety Troy Polamalu 16th.

Vermeil has often stated that he wanted to take that defensive player at the 16th position, which could have helped, but the Chiefs were dealing with a defense led by Greg Robinson at the time. Even if Kansas City had taken Polamalu, it probably wouldn't have made a difference, and the safety may not have developed into the star he is today.

It comes as no surprise that even when planned out, the elixir of hope sometimes overcomes football sense and a poor decision is made. The results become poison and no amount of antidote can fix the flop. ee the curious case of Ryan Sims or even worse, Trezelle Jenkins. Both of these picks came under Peterson's watch. In slight defense of Peterson, he was responsible for Tony Gonzalez and Jared Allen. But for some valuable hits in the draft, Peterson had his share of spectacular flame-outs.

The draft is a complicated process. From the preparation standpoint, when preparing the scores of each player available and projecting their possible draft position, it becomes like playing Nostradamus. The future can't be accurately predicted but if the team performs due diligence, there's a good possibility of scoring more often than not.

The Patriots seem to have mastered that aspect of the draft game. In 2008, Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick engineered a draft day deal that lead to the acquisition of linebacker Jerod Mayo at the 10th pick in exchange for the 7th overall first-round pick the Patriots held in 2008. That pick was traded to New Orleans for the 10th overall pick (Mayo) plus the 78th overall in the third round (linebacker Shawn Crable). New Orleans also received a fifth round pick, 164th overall. The Patriots traded down and got a bonus pick.

Pioli and Belichick got a good deal with Mayo and the Saints got defensive tackle Sedrick Ellis. Mayo was named the 2008 Associated Press Defensive Rookie of the Year while leading the Patriots with 139 tackles. Ellis didn't turn in the type of stellar year that Mayo did, but this transaction showed Pioli's draft-day savvy.

Ultimately, the way in which a general manager prepares his draft board and performs his job on draft day will go a long way in determining the outcome of the following season, and likely many seasons to come. Draft well and you'll be rewarded, draft poorly and you get demolished. Peterson found out the hard way. Let's hope the Chiefs won't make the same mistakes with Pioli and Haley at the helm.

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