If there's one thing all Chiefs fans learned about General Manager Scott Pioli in the 2009 NFL Draft, it is that he's going to draft the player he feels best addresses what he feels is his team's biggest need, regardless of what everyone else thinks.
Last year, Pioli felt that a defensive end who could be stout against the run in the team's new 3-4 defense was their highest priority, and he selected Tyson Jackson with the third overall pick.
Pioli passed on pass-rushing menace Brian Orakpo, who would later be selected by Washington and terrorize quarterbacks in the NFC East.
He skipped the draft's best available linebacker in Aaron Curry, who went on to become one of the Seahawks' leading tacklers.
Ignored were playmaking wide receivers Michael Crabtree and Jeremy Maclin.
Pioli looked past all those players and drafted the guy he felt would best help the Chiefs adapt to their new defense, and he kept his intentions under wraps until insiders finally caught on nearly 24 hours before the draft that the Chiefs planned to select Jackson.
There is no reason to believe Pioli won't do exactly the same thing in 2010.
Fans and "experts" across the nation are certain the Chiefs will use the fifth overall pick to acquire either an offensive tackle or safety Eric Berry.
Scott Pioli is sitting in his living room laughing at all of you.
Do the Chiefs need depth at offensive tackle? Sure, but that could be said about every NFL team.
Does Pioli need to draft the next Orlando Pace and move current left tackle Brandon Albert over to right guard or right tackle to create an offensive line that can do a better job of protecting quarterback Matt Cassel? Absolutely not.
Just recently in an interview, All-Pro Chiefs guard Brian Waters stated the following:
“Branden Albert has the worst rap out of anybody on the entire football team for the last two years...without a shadow of a doubt, he’s a left tackle and without a shadow of a doubt, he can play football.”
Before the interview was over, Waters said that moving Albert from left tackle would be "ridiculous."
In fact, the Chiefs main issue protecting the quarterback last season wasn't Albert and the tackle position as much as it was their lack of consistent play at the wide receiver position.
So what will Pioli identify as the team's biggest need in 2010?
Without a doubt, it has to be the team's rush defense.
In 2009 the Chiefs defense give up the second-most rushing yards in the NFL. Their 156.5 ypg average was second only to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It was the third straight season that the Chiefs were in the league's bottom five in rush defense, a span during which the team has won just 10 games. Only the Rams (six) and the Lions (nine) have won fewer games during that same three-year span.
Teams have simply run over the Chiefs the past three years, including a ridiculous 286-yard effort by Cleveland's Jerome Harrison in Week 15 last season.
So with the Chiefs rush defense as its biggest problem, it only makes sense that Pioli will try and address that need. The question is, what position is most critical to upgrade to improve the rush defense?
Knowing that new defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel will continue to use the 3-4 defense, a scheme where the key position in stopping the run is a run-stuffing nose tackle, Pioli needs to address that position.
Currently, the Chiefs have 10-year veteran Ron Edwards and journeyman Shaun Smith on the roster to man the nose tackle position. Edwards has been in the middle of the Chiefs porous rush defense the past three years, and Smith played in just three games for the Bengals last season.
Neither of those players, or any of the other interior defensive linemen on the Chiefs roster, is the solution to keeping runners like Harrison from running all over this team again in 2010. It's a position that Pioli must address in the draft.
And drafting a player like Tennessee safety Eric Berry won't do much to improve the Chiefs rush defense, and definitely won't make Edwards or Smith better.
So who should the Chiefs select with their first overall pick that can best address their gaping hole in the middle of their defensive line?
Another Volunteer from Tennessee, nose tackle Dan Williams.
And just like last year, no so-called "expert" out there is predicting the Chiefs to take Williams. Rather, like Jackson a year ago, Williams is predicted to go anywhere from the middle to end of the first round.
Even with fantastic defensive tackles like Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy available in this year's draft, Williams is seen by experts and scouts as the best true nose tackle available.
2009 was a breakout year for Williams, whose 6'2" and 327 lb frame is perfectly suited for the nose tackle position. He led the Vols with 9 tackles for loss and 9 quarterback hurries. He was also third on the team, behind linebacker Rico McCoy and Berry, in tackles with 70.
Williams can be nasty in the trenches, as he plays with a mean streak that the Chiefs defense has lacked for years. Not only will Williams demand double-teams from opposing offenses, but he will help get pressure on the quarterback and free up the Chiefs linebackers to make plays behind him.
So read up on all the information you want about tackles Bryan Bulaga and Russell Okung. Stay up all night and read whether Eric Berry will be a better safety or cornerback in the pros.
Scott Pioli is sitting at home laughing at you.
Because when Pioli goes into the office on the morning of Thursday, April 22nd, he'll be prepared to shock all of us again. He'll be on the phone that morning with the agent of a former University of Tennessee player, but it won't be the one you think he's going to pick.
Nope, Pioli knows what position the Chiefs need to most improve with their top pick, and he's going to surprise you again when NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell steps to the microphone next Thursday and says:
"With the fifth selection in the 2010 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs select...Dan Williams from the University of Tennessee."
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