Kansas City, Mo. The wholesale overhaul of the Kansas City Chiefs is nearly complete.
Andy Reid has been hired to replace Romeo Crennel as coach, and longtime Packers personnel man John Dorsey has replaced Scott Pioli as general manager. Most of the assistant coaches are on board, and now the Chiefs can start turning their attention toward the rebuilding job.
That includes preparation for the NFL draft.
The Chiefs finished 2-14 last season, matching the worst record in their 53-year history. But the byproduct of all that on-field suffering is that they have the No. 1 pick for the first time, giving Kansas City a good place to start turning around the team.
“We’re in a unique position,” said Dorsey, who will work closely with Reid but have final say over personnel decisions. “We all know there is some pressure involved in that.”
It is pressure unlike anything he’s ever experienced.
Dorsey began his career as a scout for the Packers, and eventually rose to direct of college scouting and director of football operations. But his primary responsibility was assembling the draft board, and the final decision ultimately came down to the Packers’ GM — Tom Braatz early in his career, Ron Wolf and Mike Sherman after that, and most recently Ted Thompson.
Now, when the final seconds are ticking away on April 25, all eyes in the Kansas City draft room will turn toward Dorsey for a decision that could shape the future of the franchise.
“Ultimately, we’re just trying to win Super Bowls. That’s what we’re trying to do,” said Dorsey, adding that he plans to use a similar blueprint to Green Bay.
“History and time has proven — and that’s all I know — but this system works,” Dorsey said Monday. “That’s what I’m going to try to implement.”
Examining the Packers’ drafts over the past two decades yields a few ideas about how Dorsey will proceed: He’ll likely choose the best player of available, regardless of position needs, but also understands the importance of drafting for depth at quarterback.
Many outsiders panned the choice of quarterback Aaron Rodgers when Brett Favre was firmly ensconced in Green Bay, and Rodgers has turned into a Super Bowl champion. Matt Flynn was picked in the seventh round and became a valuable commodity as a backup, while other guys such as Matt Hasselbeck and Aaron Brooks developed into starters elsewhere in the NFL.
“What we’ve always tried to do is develop a third guy,” Dorsey said, “and develop him and see if he can be a 2 or a 1.”
By contrast, the Chiefs have spent only one pick — a fifth-rounder — on a quarterback in the past six drafts, and the result has been disastrous play at the game’s marquee position.
Matt Cassel is still under contract, even though he was benched last season. Brady Quinn played just as poorly, while Ricky Stanzi never saw the field during the regular season.
“Any time when you begin to build a franchise, let’s be real, the quarterback is a very important part,” Dorsey said. “As you note the last couple weeks in the playoffs, the quarterback position is a very important position to the long-term success of the organization.”
Important enough to spend the No. 1 overall pick on it?
Dorsey and Reid both insisted they plan to draft the best player available, and that may not be a quarterback. West Virginia’s Geno Smith is widely considered the best prospect at his position, but some draft analysts believe he’s only worthy of a late first-round selection.
“My draft philosophy, you’d love to get good players. That’s the primary thing,” Reid said. “As the general manager comes in, that’s what he’s going to do. That’s his responsibility.”
It’s not as if the Chiefs don’t have other needs.
Left tackle Branden Albert and wide receiver Dwayne Bowe can both become free agents, and there are gaping holes along the defensive line, at linebacker and in the secondary. And it just so happens that some of the best available players fit those needs: Texas A&M offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, Florida State defensive end Bjoern Werner and George linebacker Jarvis Jones.
One thing that Dorsey made clear is that he won’t reach for a player.
“Philosophically, you stay true to your board,” he said. “You spend all those months staying true to your board, and all of a sudden you have to jump a player due to positional needs? I don’t think you do that. Historically, we have proven you don’t do that.”
Dorsey plans to keep the Chiefs scouting department intact through the draft, but he’s also bringing with him an entire season’s worth of his own scouting work from Green Bay.
That will be augmented by work done at college all-star games, various pro days organized by schools, the annual scouting combine and from hour upon hour of highlight tapes.
“It’s going to be a focus of our fans, the media and our personnel department here for the next three or so months,” Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said of the No. 1 pick. “It’s very important we get that pick right.”