Jeff Herr, a finalist in the 2011 Big Gig Contest on 610 Sports Radio, was born and raised in Kansas City. Following the Chiefs, Royals, and Jayhawks all his life has led him to blog about all three extensively at the-jeff-report.blogspot.com. He has also spent time covering the Royals for the blog site kingsofkauffman.com as well as serving for a period as the lead editor of throughthephog.com a blog covering the Kansas Jayhawks. When not writing about the local sports scene, he pays the bills by serving as an accountant.
Jeff Herr: Grading the Draft
by Jeff Herr,posted Apr 30 2012 2:46PM
In Pioli’s short tenure here in Kansas City he has seemed to be pretty consistent with his drafting strategy. As the draft is one big crap shoot, not all of his picks have worked out, but the majority of the time I’ve come away at least understanding why each pick was made. This more than any other draft seems to be one that was designed with high upside in mind and to build up depth, rather than concerned with immediate production.
As a practice, reactionary draft grades are essentially pointless. There’s no legitimate way to grade players on an NFL scale when they haven’t taken a single snap in the league. What can be done is evaluate picks on how well they performed in college, how it will translate to the NFL and the Chiefs system, and if the pick addresses (or doesn’t address) team needs.
We will start with pick #11, Dontari Poe, the NT from Memphis. Poe is, at the very least, an intriguing pick. “Intriguing” is not usually the word you want coming to mind with your first pick. Usually you’re looking for the superlatives “slam dunk,” “home run,” or at a minimum “safe.” With the expectations placed on a player and the amount of money they require, first round picks should be players that come in and contribute immediately.
Poe raises some flags as a pick for the Chiefs. The biggest flag, in my estimation, would be the question of his effort. While it wasn’t a major concern put forth by most teams, it was something that was often brought up with talking about Poe. At 6-4, 345 pounds, and possessing freakish athletic ability for his size, many felt Poe should have dominated lesser competition at Memphis in Conference USA. 33 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, and 1 sack in C-USA as a senior is a bit underwhelming from a first round pick you expect to anchor your defense.
However, according to his coach at Memphis, Mike Dubose (former head coach at Alabama); some of Poe’s lack in production is his (Dubose’s) fault. Dubose admitted that they probably didn’t give Poe the training or technique adjustments needed to be as effective as his athleticism would allow. Therefore, it would stand to reason that Poe might find greater success at the NFL level now that he will be able to focus his training and be placed in a position to use his athleticism properly.
Personally, I wasn’t a huge fan of the pick. Nose tackle was probably the biggest need on the team, but with the other needs this team had there were better picks available. David DeCastro from Stanford was my ideal pick here as he would have solidified this offensive line a great deal. While the upside for DeCastro might not have been quite as high, plugging him into this offensive line for the next 5-10 years would have given the Chiefs one of the best young lines in the league. This is especially relevant when the nose tackle many considered the second best in the draft Alameda Ta’amu from Washington was available in the fourth round. That said, it will be very interesting to see how Romeo Crennell can mold Poe into a quality nose tackle.
The second round pick was equally interesting for the Chiefs. I think many thought they would go inside linebacker with this pick. Instead, they decided to go with the teams other big need of offensive line. Jeff Allen offensive tackle from Illinois is a very solid pick in the second round. Looking at the success of Jon Asmoah there is some pedigree there.
Allen does a couple things for the Chiefs. First, as a solid but non-dominant offensive tackle, he projected more as a guard in the NFL. Moving him to guard allows him to study up behind Ryan Lilja and then take over next year, similar to the path of Asmoah. If nothing else he will provide solid depth at guard and somebody who can fill in at tackle if need be.
The third round pick was slightly more perplexing than the first two. The Chiefs selected Donald Stephenson, offensive tackle from Oklahoma. It’s clear the Chiefs at this point were looking to this draft to solidify depth at many positions. Picking another tackle, they give themselves some much needed depth on the offensive line. However, there is still the issue of other needs that could have been filled here.
The next pick was possibly the most questionable. In the fourth round they selected Devon Wylie, wide receiver from Fresno St. Wylie is a burner who ran a 4.39 40 yard dash at the combine, but doesn’t possess ideal size as he’s only 5’9”. This pick sounded awfully familiar. Just two years ago the Chiefs selected Dexter McCluster to fill this role. While McCluster hasn’t blown up by any means he had over 800 total yards last year and possesses a very similar skill set. While Wylie is a true receiver and McCluster isn’t, this pick still makes you do a double take as it didn’t seem like a need that had to be filled here.
The Chiefs pick in round 5 was hailed as a solid pick nearly universally and I would happen to agree. De’Quan Menzie, cornerback from Alabama was selected to compete with another Alabama product Javier Arenas, for the #3 cornerback spot. There was talk of moving Menzie to safety, but most say he will be fine at cornerback. With the departure of Brandon Carr, depth at CB needed to increase. This should be a solid signing for the Chiefs that could give immediate results this year.
Grading the Chiefs on my aforementioned criteria I would give them a C+ for this draft. They filled some needs, but the players they selected weren’t necessarily the most dominant in college. No selection jumps off the page as an excellent pick that is immediately going to help this team. That said, all these players should be able to contribute, however small, and step in with the inevitable injury that will happen. The Chiefs have gotten to the position where they can focus on depth from the draft and that’s a credit to Pioli for building this roster. Looking towards the future, some of these players could factor in with large roles on this team.