Friday, 24 April 2009

Chiefs & Pioli hold keys to the draft

The Kansas City Chiefs are in the driving seat, they've got the keys and whatever direction they go on Saturday will affect the draft more than any other team. Trying to predict what Scott Pioli and his new regime will do is like trying to guess the lottery numbers - so many combinations it's impossible to predict. The impact of their decision at pick #3 will be felt throughout the first round - none more so than in the Seahawks war room.

Who hasn't been linked to the third overall pick? Before they signed Matt Cassel, Mark Sanchez was a safe bet. After that, Aaron Curry was believed to be the choice until teams reportedly viewed him as a greater threat as a 4-3 OLB. Eugene Monroe has spent some time pinned with Kansas City in the mock drafts and now Tyson Jackson is the flavour of the month. We haven't even started talking about the possibility of trading down...

They traded Tony Gonzalez to Atlanta yesterday for a 2010 second round pick. Pioli appointed Todd Haley as head coach after a successful run to the Super Bowl in charge of Arizona's offense. Based around a dominant passing game involving three great receivers (Fitzgerald, Boldin, Breaston) could Pioli look to create a similar situation by adding Michael Crabtree to Dwayne Bowe and Bobby Engram?

The Chiefs have too many holes on both sides of the ball to be too cute in round one. A lot of the talk right now has Tyson Jackson going to KC. I understand the logic - switching to a 3-4 defense when you inherit a team that has been drafting for the 4-3 for years isn't ideal. Getting guys in quickly to fit your scheme makes sense. Here's my problem - Jackson had only four sacks at LSU in 2008 and three sacks in 2007. The potential shown in his sophomore campaign (8 sacks, 1 interception) never really developed and he had eleven games without a sack last year. A few weeks ago, he was considered a border line first round pick. Going third overall would net him a contract close to Chris Long's $56.5m with $29m guaranteed.

If they can trade down, Jackson comes into play. Do you really draft this guy at #3 though just because of the scheme logic? Seattle will hope that could be the case. That would push Aaron Curry, Michael Crabtree and Mark Sanchez into their path, allowing them to entertain trades for teams searching out Sanchez or getting an impact player. That's the perfect scenario for the Seahawks.

I think any hopes Seattle has of trading their #4 pick will be undercut by Kansas City. They are likely to accept anything the Seahawks will to move down and although the cost may be marginally higher, a team can guarantee they get their guy. If Pioli is going to take Tyson Jackson anyway, he may feel obliged to move down for a bargain price avoiding the heavy cost and getting an extra pick or two.

The only thing blocking this is the general infrequency of trades this high on the board. Kansas City could be stuck with their choice and however much Pioli wishes to move down he may have no choice but to call the pick. If that is the case, he could look passed Tyson Jackson and try to get an impact player. Someone who isn't the perfect scheme fit, but justifies the bigger contract. This would bring Curry and Crabtree into play, again cutting into Seattle's possible wish list.

Whatever the Seahawks are planning to do in the first round, whether it's a trade down or selecting from Curry, Crabtree or Sanchez - what the Kansas City Chiefs do at number three will dictate their ability to do it. Don't be surprised if there's a few disappointed faces in the Seahawks war room when the Chiefs show their hand on Saturday.


Anonymous said...


What's your read on the Browns at #5? The Chiefs will probably not take Sanchez, but maybe the Browns will bite. That perception could improve Seattle's bargaining position. While I think the Hawks could get a good prospect at #4, trading down would give them comparable quality at a much cheaper price.

On a related note, how interested do you think the Hawks really are in Sanchez? I have doubts. We've heard a lot about the potential QB controversy with Hasselbeck, but I think an overlooked angle involves Seneca Wallace. Last year, with all the injuries at WR, we didn't get a fair assessment of his potential. Holmgren always kept a tight lid on both QBs (no scrambling, no passes longer than five yards), but Mora has coached a mobile QB with success (on the field, anyway). Drafting a QB at #4 would effectively close the book on Seneca. I've always hoped he could develop into a poor man's Steve Young. When Hasselbeck is done, why not take the training wheels off and allow Wallace to compete for the starting job? Drafting a QB this high would make that impossible.

Thanks for hosting a great forum here, Rob. The conversation is unusually intelligent -- not something you can say for most sports blogs. I hope you move on to broader coverage after the draft!

Anonymous said...

I don't understand all the talk about teams trading up for the Seahawks pick to take a guy the Seahawks want. I don't recall seeing much of that in the history of the draft. The Seahawks will want the moon to trade away from the guy the really want, right? What you *do* see a lot of with trades is teams trading *in front* of the team who wants their guy. This is why the Seahawks are feinting so much. If they fake out the up-traders into getting in front of them to take a guy the Seahawks didn't really want, leaving the guy the Seahawks really did want, the Seahawks win.

Rob Staton said...

Annonymous - thanks for the kind feedback. It's been a pleasure discussing the draft and Seahawks in general over the last few weeks.

The Browns are difficult to read. With a new regime in charge, they could go in a number of directions. Many assumed Brian Orakpo would give them a OLB 3-4 rush but his stock seems to have dropped. They would like to trade down and have talked up selecting Sanchez. I have my doubts that they will, they would really have to be low on Brady Quinn for that to happen, or at least have a solid trade in place (for example, another first rounder this year).

I do think one way or another, Sanchez leaves the board before the #8 pick. Whether that's a trade up or not, I'm not sure. If interest is strong in Sanchez in Cleveland, the Seahawks would be in a stronger position to move down. If I was going to have a guess, I think the Browns' targets will be very similar to Seattle's - Curry, Crabtree and Sanchez.

Anonymous said...

TR can take comfort in the fact that if he messes up this draft and loses his job down the road, that he definitely has a spot on the World Poker Tour. Good lord. I don't think any of us can say with any confidence that "insert prospect name here" is the pick. It's been fun debating who the pick will be. Part of me is hoping for some pick out of the blue so we can all scratch our heads in harmony. Haha, keep up the good work Rob.