Pioli Acknowledges Making Mistakes

Former Patriots personnel man Scott Pioli admits he needs to do a better job. Now in charge of rebuilding the Chiefs, Pioli admits that things haven't always gone according to plan.

Pioli acknowledges he has to find more talent

   "I need to do my job better. We need to have a better roster and I feel that we have a good, solid core of players and clearly it's not good enough and I need to do my job better."

   Those words came from Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli on the December day that he and team chairman Clark Hunt fired Todd Haley as head coach. It was an acknowledgement that Haley could have used more help last year from the personnel department when injuries and a lack of depth made for a losing season.

   It is four months later and there will be an interesting dynamic at play when the Chiefs go through the mechanics of the seven-round 2012 NFL Draft.

   Not only is the always opinionated about personnel Haley gone, but the Chiefs lost one of the key figures in their personnel operation. Phil Emery had been the team's director of college scouting for two seasons when he was hired by the Chicago Bears to become their new general manager, replacing the fired Jerry Angelo.

   Emery has been banging around the NFL personnel landscape for 15 years and developed the reputation for being a stickler for detail and organization. That became very apparent when he joined the Chiefs' operation after the 2009 draft and helped organize the operation.

   Pioli arrived in January 2009 from New England and brought with him scout Jim Nagy. In essence, they were the Chiefs' personnel operation for the '09 draft. Previous vice-president of player personnel Bill Kuharich, director of college scouting Chuck Cook and their staff of scouts were still employed and attended some of the pre-draft personnel meetings. But Pioli paid no attention to the reports, ratings and opinions of the holdovers in the run-up to the draft.

   Instead, he relied on the information from the Patriots that he and Nagy brought with them. Those ratings would prove to be quite different than what was available to him from Kuharich and his crew, and that proved to be bad for the Chiefs.

   Pioli selected eight players in that draft, giving up their second-round choice in a pre-draft trade with the Patriots for quarterback Matt Cassel and outside linebacker Mike Vrabel. They selected defensive end Tyson Jackson, defensive end Alex Magee, defensive back Donald Washington, offensive lineman Colin Brown, wide receiver Quentin Lawrence, running back Javarris Williams, tight end Jake O'Connell and kicker Ryan Succop. The previous personnel staff did not have Magee, Washington, Brown or Lawrence on their early draft boards because of concerns about character and/or level of talent.

   During the 2011 season, only four of those eight '09 draft picks played for the 7-9 Chiefs, appearing in a total of 52 games with 21 starts - Jackson (16 games/14 starts), Washington (12/3), O'Connell (8/4) and Succop (16). At a time when the team needed all the help possible while going through the worst three seasons in franchise history, the '09 draft class failed badly at making a difference.

   The Patriots also did not have much success in that '09 draft. With the same ratings and evaluations that Pioli had in Kansas City, Bill Belichick drafted 12 players. Only five appeared on the field during New England's 2011 season that ended with a loss in the Super Bowl to the Giants: safety Patrick Chung (8/8), defensive tackle Ron Brace (7/0), wide receiver/defensive back Julian Edelman (13/0), defensive tackle Myron Price (2/0) and tackle Sebastian Vollmer (6/5). That's a total of 36 games on the field with 13 starts.

   Things turned around dramatically for the Chiefs when Pioli hired Emery to run the college scouting operation after the '09 draft. That led to an important 2010 class that produced four starters (safety Eric Berry, guard Jon Asamoah, tight end Tony Moeaki and safety Kendrick Lewis), along with important contributors (running back Dexter McCluster and cornerback Javier Arenas.) Last year's class included one rookie starter in outside linebacker Justin Houston and Rodney Hudson, who will start at center this season. Three others figure to make big contributions in wide receiver Jonathan Baldwin, defensive end Allen Bailey and cornerback Jalil Brown.

   Luckily for the Chiefs, Emery did not leave the organization for the Bears until after he helped set up the board and organize the rankings for this month's draft. They'll have his expertise in some fashion. The Chiefs have to hope that will help them connect with the talent the team so badly needs.

   "I do want to say that I believe in the players that we have here," Pioli said. "I need to do my job better and we need to continue to improve this roster and improve the depth on this football team."

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