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Examiner
  • Will Chiefs stick with a building block or go for the popular pick in draft?

  • When you think about the NFL draft for the Kansas City Chiefs next month, there’s the safe pick – offensive tackle Russell Okung from Oklahoma State.

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  • When you think about the NFL draft for the Kansas City Chiefs next month, there’s the safe pick – offensive tackle Russell Okung from Oklahoma State.
    And then there’s the one fans really want – defensive back Eric Berry from Tennessee. Ranked third on Mel Kiper’s board of 32, Berry would be a huge hit with the fans and a solid win for general manager Scott Pioli.
    I like what Pioli is doing with the Chiefs, but I’d love it if he’d pick Berry. The problem is you can’t have everything, and my gut says that taking Berry that high would go against what Pioli wants to do.
    History doesn’t suggest it either. The last safety taken with a top-five pick was nearly 20 years ago, and that was Eric Turner in the 1991 draft. So every other decade, but it almost never happens. Still, it doesn’t stop fans from wishing this time it’ll be different.
    I know folks are tired of hearing about the Patriot connection, but Pioli is from that fold. When trying to figure out what he might do, especially in the draft, New England provides a good road map.
    Pioli believes in building from the inside out, meaning both sides of the line. After finishing 5-11 in his first season, Pioli and Bill Belichick drafted defensive tackle Richard Seymour with the sixth overall pick and left offensive tackle Matt Light in the second round. Both proved instrumental in the Patriots’ first Super Bowl run.
    Important pieces, but they’d be considered cogs.
    That’s the school of thought Pioli comes from. The thinking that the many gears are what makes the machine go rather than the single game-changer. Last year’s top pick Tyson Jackson is part of that philosophy. I’d call Jackson a core player. Pioli was quick to say – because he knew what fans were thinking – that Jackson wasn’t going to be another Jared Allen, but someone who’d anchor the defensive line.
    Pioli picked Jackson because of certain elements. Durability was a factor; character and quality were two more. Pioli saw more of the total package in Jackson. Team first, chemistry, and not getting all googly-eyed over any single player is what Pioli firmly believes. He’s set in his ways, but he’s seen them win three Super Bowls and show up for a fourth.
    Checking the message boards and forums like I do, it seems fans are already bracing for disappointment. Fans know Pioli marches to the beat of a different drummer. Fans feel like that kid who wants that really cool toy, but like grandma, Pioli gets them socks. I always needed the socks, but it wasn’t nearly as neat as the toy.
    Page 2 of 3 - Fans are aching for a star, and when it comes the Chiefs’ turn to choose, wouldn’t it be wonderful if Pioli sees Berry as that difference maker.  It may not be the norm to draft safeties that high, but an angel on my shoulder keeps saying Berry isn’t the normal safety.
    Statistically he put his name in the books as one of the most dominant defensive backs in NCAA history. Berry led the NCAA in total interceptions, interceptions per game, interception return yards, and interceptions returned for touchdowns.
    Plainly put, Berry can change things in a hurry. Who was the last defensive back that did that for the Chiefs, especially one they drafted? I’d have to go with Dale Carter, who had seven picks his first season. I’m not knocking Brandon Flowers, because keeps getting better, but Berry could be in a league of his own. He’s being compared to Baltimore safety Ed Reed, but I think he’ll be better.
    Taking Berry would go against all odds, Peter King from SI.com can’t see the Chiefs taking a safety that high, but I’m saying it’s not out of the question either.
    The Chiefs recently made some acquisitions along their offensive line that could point to what they might be thinking. With Pioli you take what you get, but picking up starters along the offensive line leads me to think the Chiefs may have other options in mind.
    Berry would be an instant upgrade in a defensive backfield that consistently had problems with the deep middle. Berry would hold the fort and that should spill over to the rest, even down to the defensive line. Wouldn’t that make the defense as a whole better?
    Hey, it would improve the entire team. I think that fits the new attitude.
    Are you listening Pioli?
    The Chiefs brought back center Casey Wiegmann and another former Chief, guard Ryan Lilja, who were both full-time starters. Wiegmann played for the Broncos and Lilja for the Colts. There was speculation that Brian Waters would move to center as part of the Chiefs moving Brandon Albert, but with Wiegmann most likely the center, Waters is staying put.
    Am I worried about Wiegmann and his age? He’s on a 127-game streak, but more importantly I don’t see him hiking the ball over Matt Cassel’s head. That alone is worth something.
    The Chiefs closed some doors using free agency, which only fuels the optimism for Berry.
    You take it in pieces on what the Chiefs may do. It could mean something, or it might not. In the end you don’t know, but the one player that I’ve seen Chiefs fans do the most talking about is Eric Berry. He’s the one player that fans would be totally happy with.
    Page 3 of 3 - Pioli has said he isn’t into doing what’s popular with everyone else. At best you can cross your fingers and pray that Pioli does the exact opposite of what he usually does. Maybe everything I’m saying Pioli likes too. Maybe secretly he’s a Berry fan too. There’s mock drafts saying the Chiefs will take Berry, just not many. Last year Pioli took someone that only a handful saw coming.
    This draft is deep on defensive talent, but when you got a Cadillac sitting next to a mini-van, which are you going to take? Sure, the van is practical, gets around, and is versatile. I have a van, but when I want to get somewhere, I jump in my Corvette.
    Berry is special.
    Besides kicker Ryan Succop, the last pick of the 2009 draft, none of the others did anything pertinent in creating lasting memories.
    I think Berry wouldn’t just be popular, he would fill a real need for the Chiefs. It may be selfish, but Kansas City needs a player to watch again, and even if it doesn’t add up for Pioli, he should do the smart thing by taking Berry with the first.
    Good day, Chief fans!

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