You'll never catch me saying “Team X should have drafted Player Y” within six months of the draft, with the notable example of every team in the NFL as Team X and Randy Moss as Team Y. The vast majority of the time it takes at least three years to get a true sense of which of these players have the makeup to succeed in the pros.
For example, in the warm post-draft glow of the last two first rounds Glenn Dorsey to the Chiefs and Jarvis Moss to the Broncos seemed like value picks. Now with new defenses systems installed these mismatched underachievers can be had for pennies on the dollar. A year after the selections were made it would have seemed ridiculous to suggest that Houston made the right decision to draft Mario Williams over Reggie Bush. Now, three years later, Bush's limitations are obvious. And the men employed by NFL teams have spent far more time than I watching tape on these guys and are far more familiar with their team's gameplans and how their talent fits in, so you'll never read me saying that a team had a greater need at one position than another unless a productive player has to be jettisoned.
That being said, I do think I'm qualified to judge value in the draft's immediate aftermath, and the Chiefs picked up a limited amount of value relative to where they were picking. With the third pick in the draft, Kansas City took Tyson Jackson, a defensive end out of LSU projected to play the five technique in defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast's 3-4. Up until last Thursday, Jackson was universally projected as going in the second half of the first round. Then suddenly he appeared as the third pick in every major mock draft, a fact that clearly indicates Kansas City leaked the pick, which I assume is so they wouldn't be as heavily criticized by the media if they made the pick out of the blue. If they keep the pick quiet, I see no reason why they couldn't have passed until at least the 12th pick and saved $3-4 million annually in salary. Cleveland, San Francisco, and Denver were the only other teams that run any 3-4 in the top 15, and Denver is the only one of those teams that would have considered Jackson with their pick. The Chiefs could have traded down with the Jets, and then tried to trade back up with a net gain in picks, although this is contingent upon finding a team that wanted to trade down ahead of Denver. Even if Tyson Jackson turns into the next Richard Seymour, I'm convinced the Chiefs could have gotten him for less cap room and less assets.
Seymour (sixth overall pick in 2001) is the guy that Jackson supporters are comparing him to. A three-time Super Bowl champ and five-time Pro Bowler, Seymour is as responsible for the Patriots' recent dynasty as anybody not named Brady. But Seymour was a far superior prospect to Jackson: Seymour was an All American and two time All-SEC; Jackson was a two-time second team All-SEC. Jackson is also smaller than Seymour and doesn't project to an impact 4-3 tackle like Seymour did. The better comparison would be to Marcus Spears, another Tiger 3-4 end built similarly to Jackson who slid a little in his draft (20th pick in 2005). Spears was more productive at LSU (All American, two time All-SEC) than DJax but hasn't distinguished himself in the NFL. If they were so fixated on acquiring a 3-4 end, then they should have targeted Spears' more productive teammate Chris Canty in free agency, who signed for roughly two-thirds of what I project Jackson to sign for.
I'll admit, I thought the Patriots could have waited on Seymour in 2001, if only for a few picks. But the gap in salaries between top 10 picks has gotten so absurd that you are doing your team a disservice by insisting on exercising a pick when slotted. Many NFL personalities believe that the Chiefs should have drafted Aaron Curry with the third pick, but I'd rather have a guy that the coaching staff wants for $6 million a year than a guy they don't for $10 million.
Miscellaneous: I'll have more on the Chiefs' other picks within the next week… Turns out there's no truth to the Michael Lombardi report that the Chiefs signed Cassel to a six year extension, but take what Lombardi reports with a grain of salt…
About the Author
Written by Ryan Cleaver
Ryan Cleaver was born in Björk’s house in Iceland and grew up on Easter Island, where his parents were giant stone heads. He has the ability to fire beams of tacos out of his hands and he can turn his legs into tigers. On Sundays, Ryan enjoys reading Family Circus and traveling through time. His favorite color is greenish-transparent and his favorite movie is the one you just watched.