At first glance, it might appear that the Chiefs had a disappointing season. They failed to return to the playoffs after winning the AFC West in 2010.
A closer look reveals that they lost their best offensive and defensive player before the leaves were falling off of the trees and later had to start Tyler Palko at quarterback because of injury. In reality, the team is poised to be a strong contender with the return of Eric Berry and Jamaal Charles.
What can we learn about general manager Scott Pioli's strategy to return to the playoffs from the 2012 draft class?
The 2012 class focused on power players and building from the outside in
Pioli might be as coordinated pre-draft as it looks like he is when the dust settles on a class, but each of his last three hauls of draft picks seem to stress a specific aspect of the game of football.
2010 brought the quickness and overall athleticism of Eric Berry, Dexter McCluster and Javier Arenas. 2011 was led by the big, explosive packages presented by Jon Baldwin and Justin Houston. In 2012, the Chiefs got a trio of power players in the trenches in the first three rounds: Dontari Poe, Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson.
The Chiefs have excellent weapons and players on the edges of their offense and defense. Pioli made a big move to upgrade the guts of the units this year.
Pioli is not afraid of past failures
His first pick as general manager of the Chiefs was a big defensive lineman, Tyson Jackson. Jackson was considered a reach at the time and a massive disappointment around the league now.
The last first-rounder of the previous regime was Glenn Dorsey, another player who has massively underperformed his top-five billing.
Pioli wasn't afraid of repeating his own mistake, going back to the defensive line in the first round this year. He even tempted fate by taking Dontari Poe, a supreme physical talent who couldn't translate his tools into production even though he didn't face the best competition in college football.
There is a lot of trust in defensive-minded head coach Romeo Crennel to make the most of Poe. If he fails, Pioli will be the subject of criticism for not avoiding reliving the mistakes of the recent past.