I'm the type that likes to link things together. I'm a sentimental sort, and when Derrick Thomas was selected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame I couldn't help but to connect it to Carl Peterson. Peterson's final press conference put the finishing period on a chapter of Chiefs history. It was an era that lasted 20 years.
Many of you still remember the feeling of Marty Schottenheimer putting the Chiefs into a Wild Card spot in 1991. It was a home playoff game, a first in Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs faced the Oakland Raiders forcing six turnovers and winning 10-6. That was the team's first post season win since Super Bowl IV.
Everything was "new" again, everything would be okay.
It all started with Peterson and the fourth overall pick and he chose linebacker Derrick Thomas. There are similarities between Scott Pioli and Carl Peterson. Not in the man, but in the situation Pioli finds himself in...he's starting out with the third overall pick. The choice Pioli makes with the upcoming NFL draft will be his mark for the next several years.
Derrick Thomas made an immediate impact earning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. The next season he lead the league with 20 sacks, sacking Seattle Seahawks quarterback Dave Krieg seven times.
Most knock Peterson for the second half of his 20 years, but not many can argue the great memories from the first 10 years. Peterson started right by choosing Thomas, now its Pioli's turn.
The condition of the ship was similar and like Peterson, Pioli has work to do. Derrick Thomas was the Kansas City Chiefs. Will Pioli look for "the" guy to put a new face on the Chiefs, or will he trade the third overall and go after several.
Linebacker Aaron Curry from Wake Forrest could get fans excited, but he's a wild card. After Derrick Johnson I'm not sure I'd like to travel that road again. I understand Johnson was selected with the Chiefs 15th not the third overall, but he was an exciting catch and some thought the next Thomas. Now five years later, with only 12 sacks, not the case.
The third overall means you have all but a couple to pick from, but it also means you're not very good. I don't plan on the Chiefs being here again next season, so while they got it they'd better make it count. I'm sure Pioli feels the same way, so would Aaron Curry be the wise choice.
According to some mock drafts Curry is the biggest wild card in the top five, because like Johnson he could slip several directions. Is that a player Pioli would be willing to hang his hat on? On paper Curry is an elite prospect. He's big at 6-3 and 247 lbs. He has the exceptional speed, quickness and athleticism for a big man. He's physical, tough, and possesses the strength and power you want in a linebacker. He has the outstanding instincts and awareness. Something we've been missing with the Chiefs has been the reliable tackling and big hits. He's never missed a game due to injury, the list goes on, just Google him.
So why wouldn't Pioli pull the trigger on Curry? I think one reason would be Matt Cassell. Cassell represents a big investment and the quarterback Pioli wants driving his team. A quarterback like Cassell needs protection, and I'm a firm believer in the offensive line. The Chiefs have always done well when they're counted among the leagues best with their offensive line. I took it for grant it, but the offensive line needs retooling.
At number three it wouldn't be a shocker to see the Chiefs draft tackle Eugene Monroe from Virginia. Both he and tackle Jason Smith from Baylor are top prospects. Pioli couldn't go wrong selecting either one. The advantage of Monroe is that he played with Branden Albert at Virginia and the two know each other. Virginia had an amazing offensive line, so having both Monroe and Alberts as the Chiefs bookends would set the Chiefs up for years. Personally I'd love to see the Chiefs go with an offensive tackle and build that foundation, not to mention the offensive line is a Chiefs tradition.
The third option is the right deal. There are several holes in need of filling for the Chiefs. I like the signings of linebackers Mike Vrabel and Zach Thomas. The Chiefs went too young too fast, and these two will show the younger players what work ethic and consistency is all about. Zack Thomas was a fifth rounder and was thought to be too small to play in the league. Now he has more tackles than any linebacker in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with over 1,500.
But as good of leaders as both Vrabel and Thomas are, their days are numbered. They're short term goals to a long range plan. That's were Pioli trading the third and possibly a player like Tony Gonzalez would reap several picks setting the Chiefs up for six to seven seasons in the future.
Scott Pioli has a big decision to make, but from the sounds of it Pioli is a planner and things don't sneak up on him very often. All you have to do is take a look at New England and the type of players Pioli and Bill Belichick brought into the Patriot organization. Those blue collar types have helped New England win three Super Bowls. Not the Terrell Owen types, but players who have been carefully researched and developed after they've been drafted by the Patriots. Even in free agency they made what seemed to be unspectacular moves and turned them into good ones.
The one thing the Chiefs have been lousy at is keeping and developing players they themselves have drafted. Besides Tony Gonzalez and Larry Johnson there isn't too many to point your finger at. Larry Johnson is on shaky ground.
But Pioli and the Patriots not only drafted and developed their own, but signed them and kept them.
I don't mind the new atmosphere. I don't need to know every thought that Pioli is thinking or every move he might make. What I do know is out of the three options I've given, come draft day, Pioli can't go wrong.
In a nutshell whichever turn he takes I think Pioli and the Chiefs will make it a good one.
Once again everything looks "new" again, and it feels like everything will be okay.