PSST...The draft is really important (The Chiefs Edition) - Arrowhead Pride
In case you missed the first three posts in this series of posts about the importance of drafting and the AFC West you can find the the proceeding stories with the links below.
San Diego Chargers
The Chiefs were a force to be reckoned with during the 90's. Despite not winning a super bowl KC won more home games than any other team in the NFL, except the San Fransisco 49ers. During the Marty years Kansas City was a competitive team year after year. They just couldn't get over the hump and Marty was let go.
After 2 forgettable years under the leadership of Gunther Cunningham, KC got a new lease on life with the introduction of Dick Vermeil as the head coach. Suddenly the Chiefs appeared to be players for the division again.
Little did any of us realize that KC was going to look at what both Denver and Oakland did wrong, copy it, and find a whole new way to fail that was all Kansas City.
Before you click that link let me warn you, I am not going to be kind. Think I tore up Oakland and Denver? That was nothing. I wanted to know why my Chiefs went from NFL force to NFL afterthought. I believe I have identified that reason and have laid it out here.
If you are wearing any kind of Red/Gold colored glasses about the last decade be forewarned. It's going to be ugly, vicious and nothing but the truth.
Kansas City Chiefs
Still with me? Don't say I didn't warn you...
Man was 2003 fun. Points being scored. Wins being secured. Excitement back in Arrowhead. But Vermeil leaned HEAVILY on veterans from earlier drafts and veteran free agents to secure those wins.
The team managed to go 13-3 and win the division, but there were warning signs. Of the 11 starters on offense, only 3 were drafted by KC. (Gonzalez, Tait, Shields). Brian Waters and Tony Richardson were homegrown UDFAs.
Here's your list of 2003 FA offensive Chiefs: Green, Roaf, Holmes, Weigman, Kennison and Morton
Over half of the starting offense came from free agency. The average age of those free agents...31.3 years....uh-oh...
Think about that. Every skill position on offense was a veteran FA. All of the offensive starters were established veterans, the youngest being Brian Waters at age 26. There was no youth on the offensive side of the ball. Fun as 2003 was, it spelled doom for the Chiefs on offense throughout the rest of the decade.
"But wait Mushin!! The reason that all those free agents were on the offense was because Vermeil and Peterson were drafting for defense"
Oh yeah, the defense...where all those draft picks ended up. The same defense that averaged a rank of 25th from 2003-2007 in yards given up and 17th in points allowed during the same time.
KC drafted 19 or 20 defensive players during the Vermeil era. I say 19 or 20 because Jared Allen was actually drafted as a long snapper. But hell, I'll give you Allen. So 20 players. 2 made the Pro Bowl. Jared Allen and Derrick Johnson. I'll even give you the benefit of the doubt with DJ who didn't make the Pro Bowl until 2011.
So the best defensive picks under Peterson and Vermeil were a long snapper who turned in to a Hall of Fame DE against all odds and a LB who took roughly 6 years and 3 coaches to put it together.
That's the definition of not getting it done.
The 2003 team was symptomatic of everything that was going wrong with the Chiefs on the talent acquisition front. Even thought they went 13-3, they missed on multiple draft picks and relied on veteran FA's at the end of their careers to bail them out.
On offense those fantastic FA's were all nearing the end of their careers. By the time Edwards "youth purge" occurred in 2008, the only offense starters from 2003 that were left to be purged were Casey Weigman and Eddie Kennison. Green left in 2006 and played two more forgettable years with Miami and St Louis. Weigman was, well, Weigman (love ya man) and kept playing till 2011 (probably).
The rest of KC's FA starters from 2003? Every one of them was out of the league by the end of 2007.
Enter Herm Edwards.
Let me preface this by saying I didn't like Edwards as a coach. His offensive philosophies made Bill Muir look like an innovator. The offense was putrid. The defense he inherited was not up to the job that Edwards' 'defense and punt' style of play required. To make matters worse, under Edwards the entire team was undisciplined and out of shape.
Still, it took a lot of courage to completely blow up a team and start from scratch. It cost Edwards his job but it also may be the best thing that has happened in Kansas City since the drafting of Derrick Thomas.
Respect to Edwards. Thank you sir.
12 draft picks in 2008 didn't hurt either.
Kansas City began a ground up rebuild that is still in progress today. But in order to fully appreciate why it happened you have to take a look at the drafts from 2001-2008 to see just how deep the hole Carl Peterson had dug for this team.
With the other teams I limited the draft lists to players that put in at least 16 games with the team that drafted him. This time we'll look at the whole ugly truth.
Draft History Legend:
* = Starter (Must have started 16 games with team to qualify)
+ = Pro Bowler
# = All Pro
S= Players still with the team
Players in ITALICS did not play 16 full games with the team
Kansas City Draft History (2001-2010) / Regular Season Records (2003-2011)
2001 Draft Class / 2003 Record 13-3
2003 AFC West Champs, Divisional Round Loss
Eric Downing, DT (2nd round pick)
Snoop Minnis, WR
Monty Beisel, LB *
George Layne, RB
Bill Baber, TE
Derrick Blaylock, RB
Alex Sulfsted, OT
Shaunard Harts, S*
Terdell Sands, DT
2002 Draft Class / 2004 Record 7-9
2004 3rd in AFC West
Ryan Sims, DT *
Eddie Freeman, DE
Omar Easy, FB
Scott Fujita, LB *
Maurice Rodriguez, LB
2003 Draft Class / 2005 Record10-6
2005 2nd in AFC West
Larry Johnson, RB * + #
Kawika Mitchell, LB *
Julian Battle, CB
Brett Williams, OT
Jordan Black, OT *
Jimmy Wilkerson, DE
Montique Sharpe, DT
Willie Pile, S
2004 Draft Class / 2006 Record 9-7
2006 2nd in AFC West, AFC Wildcard Team, Wildcard Round Loss
Junior Siavii, DT (2nd round pick)
Kris Wilson, FB/TE *
Keyaron Fox, LB
Samie Parker, WR *
Jared Allen, LS / DE * + #
Jeris McIntyre, WR
Kevin Sampson, OT
2005 Draft Class / 2007 Record 4-12
2007 3rd in AFC West
Derrick Johnson, LB * + # S
Dustin Colquitt, P * S
Craphonso Thorpe, WR
Boomer Grigsby, LB
Alphonso Hodge, DB
Will Svitek, OT
Khari Long, DE
James Kilian, QB
Jeremy Parquet, T
2006 Draft Class / 2008 Record 2-14
2008 4th in AFC West
Tamba Hali, DE / OLB * + # S
Bernard Pollard, S *
Brodie Croyle, QB
Marcus Maxey, DB
Tre Stallings, OG
Jeff Webb, WR
Jarrad Page, S *
2007 Draft Class / 2009 Record 4-12
2009 4th in AFC West
Dwayne Bowe, WR * + S
Turk McBride, DT / DE
Tank Tyler, DT *
Kolby Smith, RB
Justin Medlock, K
Herbert Taylor, OT
Michael Allan, TE
2008 Draft Class / 2010 Record 10-6
2010 AFC West Champs, Wildcard Round Loss
Glenn Dorsey, DT /DE * S
Branden Albert, OT/OG/QB/K/LS * S
Brandon Flowers, CB * S
Jamaal Charles, RB * + # S
Brad Cottam, TE
DaJuan Morgan, DB
Will Franklin, WR
Brandon Carr, CB *
Barry Richardson, OT *
Kevin Robinson, WR
Brian Johnston, DE
Mike Merritt, TE
2009 Draft Class / 2011 Record 7-9
2011 4th in AFC West
Tyson Jackson, DE * S
Alex Magee, DE
Donald Washington, DB S
Colin Brown, OT
Quinten Lawrence, WR / S
Javarris Williams, RB
Jake O'Connell, TE S
Ryan Succop, K * S
2010 Draft Class / 2012 Record ????
Eric Berry, S * + S
Dexter McCluster, OW S
Javier Arenas, CB S
Jon Asamoah, OG * S
Tony Moeaki, TE S
Kendrick Lewis, S * S
Cameron Sheffield, LB S
The draft numbers for 2001-2010
80 total picks (39 Defense, 38 Offense, 3 K/P)
7 Pro Bowlers
4 All Pros
2 AFC West Championships
1 Wild Card Berth
19 of the 80 draft picks during this time are still with the team
KC's overall draft numbers for the decade are better than Oakland's and Denver's. And you have to give Peterson his due on his 1st rounders.
Out of 7 first round picks between 2001-2010 he drafted 7 starters, 4 Pro Bowlers (LJ, Hali, DJ, Bowe) and 3 All Pros (LJ, Hali, DJ).
The only first round mega-bust was Sims (who still qualified as a starter for the team). Albert hasn't made a Pro Bowl but he's a definite keeper. And for you Dorsey haters, Dorsey ain't no Sims.
It was any pick outside of the 1st round that sucked Raider for Carl Peterson.
58 picks from rounds 2-7 between 2001-2008. 16 players from round 2-7 that started 16 games for KC. 2 Pro Bowlers (Allen, Charles), 2 All Pro (Allen, Charles).
Take out the 2008 class and the numbers drop to 46 picks, 12 starters, 1 Pro Bowler, 1 All Pro.
For comparison, San Diego's draft stats in rounds 2-7 for 2001-2007 are: 48 picks, 19 starters, 8 Pro Bowlers, 2 All Pro's. I did not count Gates, so you can throw one HoF UDFA to those number if you'd like.
Is there any wonder the Chargers were bashing in KC's head from 2003-2009?
To make matters worse, while San Diego was killing Peterson in the draft, and as we saw yesterday, the Broncos were running away with the free agency race.
I did mention in yesterday's post that Carl Peterson and Vermeil managed to sign 3 Pro Bowl free agents, 2 of which became All Pro's for the Chiefs. (Green, Holmes, Roaf). All three were brought onboard in 2002. You could make a good argument that it was the greatest free agent class of any team ever. Especially when you factor in that Kennison and Morton were also added in 2002. One year later KC was 13-3 on the back of that class.
Too bad CP used up almost all of his free agent magic in 2002.Things went down hill from there. Actually, it might be easier if you judge for yourself:
KC Offensive Starter Free Agent Aquisitions from 2003-2007. (didn't want to count the purge of '08 to be as fair as possible here)
John Welbourn, RT/ OG, signed in 2004 from Philly, 4 years w/ KC, age 28 at signing
Damon Huard, QB, signed in 2006 from NE, 3 years w/ KC, age 33 at signing
Chris Terry, OT, signed in 2006 from Sea, 2 years w/ KC, age 31
KC Defensive Starter Free Agent Aquisitions from 2003-2008
Vonnie Holliday, DE, signed in 2003 from GB, 2 years w/ KC, age 28 at signing
Shawn Barber, LB, signed in 2003 from Philly, 3 years w/ KC, age 28 at signing
Dexter McLeaon, CB, signed in 2003 from StL, 3 years w/ KC, age 30 at signing
Lionel Dalton, DT, signed in 2004 from Wash, 2.2 years w/ KC (cut after 2 games into the 2006 season), age 29 at signing
Kendrell Bell, LB, signed in 2005 from Pitt, 3 years w/ KC, age 27 at signing
Patrick Surtain, CB, signed in 2005 from Miami, 4 years w/ KC, age 29 at signing
Sammy Knight, S, signed in 2005 from Miami, 2 years w/ KC, age 30 at signing
Ron Edwards, DT/NT, signed in 2006 from Buf, 5 years w/ KC, age 27 at signing
James Reed, DT, signed in 2006 from NYJ, 2 years w/KC, age 29 at signing
Ty Law, CB, signed in 2006 from NYJ, 2 years w/ KC, age 32 at signing
Alphonso Boone, signed in 2007 from Chi, 2 years w/ KC, age 31 at signing
Napoleon Harris, signed 2007 from Min, 1 year w/KC, age 28 at signing
Donnie Edwards, signed 2007 from SDG after realizing that letting him go may have been the biggest non-QB mistake in franchise history, 2 years w/KC, age 34 at signing
As you can see the Chiefs were despreately searching for defensive help from 2003-2007. So back to the scoreboard for the 2001-2005 drafts and the 2003-2007 regular seasons....
2001-2005 drafts: 39 picks. 20 of the picks on defense (54%). 1 defensive player that made the Pro Bowl during this time (the converted long snapper made it in 2007, DJ isn't counted). 1 Defensive All Pro.
To compensate, KC started 13 defensive FA's from 2003-2007 in place of the draft picks should have been taking over. The free agents played an average of 2.5 years with the Chiefs and had an average age of 29.3 years.
Oh, and they weren't very good.
Surtain was solid. Ron Edwards was a rock that did whatever was asked. Ty Law flashed at times. But overall the free agency starters that KC used were meh...at best.
But lets not leave the offensive draft picks out of this either.
17 offensive picks from 2001-2005. 4 Starters, 1 Pro Bowler, 1 All Pro.
Peterson did draft LJ during this time. Kudos to CP. The only other offensive players drafted from 2001-2005 to qualify as starters for this post; Jordan Black, Kris Wilson and Samie Parker. I feel dirty naming those three as offensive starters.
Feel free to kick a puppy at this point if you need to.
CP did draft Colquitt in the 2nd round of 2005, so there's a bit of silver lining if you need one. Hey, it gave Edwards the weapon he needed to implement his offense.
Miss on virutally every draft pick not in the first round and get blown out off the water by another team in your division. STRIKE 1
Use overpaid and old free agents who are past their prime to fill the gaps. STRIKE 2.
Implement a defensive minded scheme with a squad cobbled together with meh free agents and go 4-12. STRIKE 3
Time to blow it up.
I clearly remember throughout this time thinking, "If they just got this FA, or if they just draft that one DT, WR, OT" and then not understanding why it didn't work. Duh! With hindsight (and a lot of NFL reference sites) it seems so obvious why the crash of 2007 was inevitable. I was shocked at the time. Now I'm shocked that I was shocked. The writing was on the wall the whole time and I just didn't see it.
Welcome to the purge of 2008. But more importantly, the draft of 2008.
11 of the 29 starters identified in the 2001-2010 draft numbers have been drafted since 2008. That's roughly 40% of the starters in 3 of 10 drafts. Keep in mind that the number should be higher since Moeaki doesn't count. He did not qualify as a starter (or a keeper) with only 15 games played/started.
2 of the 7 Pro Bowlers (28%) were drafted between 2008-2010.
This team went from old and overpaid to young and hungry in 2 years. And lord was it painful. 6-26 regular season record from 2008-2009.
Then a funny thing happened...the whole point of this exercise was to show that there is a correlation between drafts and regular season records two years later. The 2008 draft class was the best in the division by far. 2010 regular season record, 10-6.
There were warts to be sure, but it was warts on a hot chick. Enough beer and they just disappeared.
2011 was, well 2011. There is no need to rehash that here. We've been talking about what went wrong since December. I will leave say the KC draft in '09 was "meh" (whose wasn't?) and the record two years later was "meh" as well.
Man was this post cathartic. Thanks for letting me vent (if you made it this far)
I'll leave you with this for now. You may have a bad taste in your mouth, but I promise tomorrow's conclusion piece should prove to be a at least a little more Red and Gold kool-aidish. Hang in there.