Historically, unconventional thinking has often led to some of the greatest outcomes in the history of the NFL. When Todd Haley benched Matt Leinhart for an aging Kurt Warner, this was an unconventional move. When the Dolphins introduced the Wildcat offense, this was an unconventional move. In 1992, the Colts selection of linebacker Quentin Coryatt was an unconventional move.
In all the above cases, the teams making the moves went "against the grain" and it paid dividends. As a result, the individual's behind these choices were called "genius". Indeed, often we equate genius in football and in life with enacting an unconventional solution to a problem and having it succeed. Sometimes, such innovations in thinking become standard (i.e. the creation of the 3-4 defense) and then it takes another innovation to prove genius. In this sense, genius paradoxically becomes uncreative convention.
However, for the 2010 Kansas City Chiefs now is not the time to tinker with genius. The Chiefs 2009 pick was certainly unconventional. Although Tyson Jackson may become a key cog in a Chiefs machine that wins a Superbowl, his selection was anything but conventional. In a world where most seemed to think that the Chiefs needed either O-line help or an impact pass rusher, one could here the groans from coast-to-coast when T-Jack's name was mentioned at the podium. Now, again, this isn't to say that this pick won't turn out to be genius at some point in the future. However, no one can say that it was conventional.
Now, the Chiefs face a similar situation in 2010. My suggestion is that the Chiefs need to settle in and go for a sure thing that will make an immediate impact. The Chiefs have been tinkering for too long and need to start showing some serious improvement in 2010. The problem with genius is that there is always risk involved in going away from the "tried and true" and the Chiefs are simply at a time where risk taking doesn't make sense.
Along this vein, the problem with the unconventional is that it as often spells disaster as it does success. For example, it was an unconventional disaster when Mike Ditka traded away his entire draft for Ricky Williams. Likewise, it was bad news for the Lions when they spent three #1 picks in four years on wide receivers. For the Chiefs, a misfire in this draft could lead to a bad season, a new regime, a re-start of the dreaded "rebuilding" process and prolonged ineptitude.
To me, the conventional picks for the Chiefs are pretty simple. The Chiefs need help in their interior linebacking, secondary run support and offensive line. Given that there is no linebacker worthy of a top 5 pick, this leaves the Chiefs looking at strong safety Eric Berry if he should fall through or an offensive tackle such as Bruce Campbell, Trent Williams or (preferably) Russell Okung. Alternatively, the Chiefs could trade down and take Rolando McClain, who would help out in the middle of the Chiefs linebacking core and address other needs as well.
What the Chiefs need not do is take a stab at the unconventional. Some of said the Chiefs should look at Ndamukong Suh if he is on the board or maybe a wide receiver such as Dez Bryant. Some have even suggested that the Chiefs might take a flyer on a quarterback such as Jimmy Clausen. None of these picks makes any sense for the Chiefs.
Starting with Suh, who will doubtlessly be a great player, he simply isn't a perfect fit for the Chiefs 3-4 scheme. At 307 pounds he is too light to play NT and the Chiefs have two first round picks manning the DE spots. Even if Suh were to workout great, it would mean taking a previous pick and turning it into a waste. The opportunity cost of this pick is just too high. Incidentally, ditto for Gerald McCoy, if that is what anyone else is thinking. Problem for the Chiefs is that if Suh or McCoy are on the board they may be the general "best players available", however, they won't be the best players available for the Chiefs. Picking one of these guys would essentially make the Chiefs the Detroit Lions of the defensive line.
As to Bryant, there is nothing riskier than picking a wide receiver in the NFL in the first round in the first place. Busts at receiver have to outweigh hits in the first round. Plus, the Chiefs are pretty well set at the starting wideouts with Dwayne Bowe and Chris Chambers. Although, it might seem that drafting a wideout could give the Chiefs something similar to what the Cardinals enjoyed in 2008 (when they had three 1,000 yard wide receivers), the likelihood for disaster is too high. Also, this pick leaves the Chiefs still with holes on the offensive line and in the defense that are likely to mitigate any success another wideout would bring them.
Finally, what if Jimmy Clausen or even Sam Bradford is on the board when the Chiefs #5 slot rolls around? If this happens the Chiefs should rejoice because the likelihood of finding a partner to trade with has just improved immensely. However, the idea that the Chiefs should take either of these QB's is crazy. Whether you like it or not, the Chiefs have tied their fortunes to Matt Cassel, with a contingency policy named Brodie Croyle. Drafting a QB here amounts to cap suicide, because what then do the Chiefs do with Cassel? At this point, Cassel isn't going to be tradeable because of his contract unless he has a good 2010 (which I for one think he will). However, if he does have a good 2010, why would the Chiefs then want to get rid of him to count on a young QB, who may or may not pan out? Then there is the question of what to do with Croyle, whose 2nd round tender suddenly would make him a very well paid #3 QB. Any way you cut it, drafting a QB doesn't make sense. I don't care how neat that anyone thinks it might be to reunite Charlie Weis and Jimmy Clausen.
Ultimately, the Chiefs 2010 draft should be as easy as an extra point. If the Chiefs can get Eric Berry, they draft him. End of story. If Berry is gone and the Chiefs can trade down and get value and extra picks they should go for it. There are tons of offensive tackles in this draft that are all at about the same ability and the Chiefs have tons of other holes to be filled. Finally, if Berry is gone and the Chiefs can't find a trading partner, the Chiefs should grab the best OT on the board (the consensus with everyone is that Okung is pretty much a can't miss prospect who should start from day 1, so I'd go there).
Ironically, this is what just about everyone is saying. It may not be genius, but it makes sense but now isn't the time for genius. Sometimes the simple solution is the best one.