Thursday night’s trade bonanza could have included the Chiefs, but Kansas City declined two invitations to join the party.
An unprecedented six of the first seven draft slots were traded before the Chiefs went on the clock with the 11th overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Nine of the first 14 picks would eventually be dealt before the round closed with 14 of 32 picks being traded.
Nearly half of all first-round picks traded hands operating under the guidelines of the new CBA and its rookie wage scale. The Chiefs could have pushed the total over the 50% mark, but tabled two offers to trade down before selecting nose tackle Dontari Poe out of Memphis.
“We felt that if we moved back a little too far, even though we were getting some extra currency in extra picks, we felt that (Dontari) was the right player for us,” Chiefs GM Scott Pioli said. “We didn’t want to move too far away from him and risk the chance of not being able to get him.”
Prior to the draft, trading down was the move many predicted the Chiefs might choose.
Kansas City was sitting in a unique draft slot because of fifth-year financials tied to rookie contracts and because of Pioli’s history in trading down to acquire more picks. Pioli talked at length last week about the wide-open potential for trading up or down from the No. 11 spot.
Last year, the Chiefs traded down and acquired an additional third-round pick used to select Mack Lee Hill Rookie of the Year winner
“Part of what goes into the draft is strategy in trying to understand what the other teams are going to do,” Pioli said. “We never know exactly what they are going to do, but we didn’t want to take the risk of losing out on this player.”
Part of Poe’s appeal wasn’t just his ranking on the Chiefs Draft Board or the team’s need for a prototypical nose tackle. Poe is also one of the few pure nose tackles with ability to play in both base and sub-package sets.
Poe lined up in multiple defensive fronts during his three seasons at Memphis and was often on the field for more than 50 snaps per game.
“If you watch tape, you can see that this guy is a strong player, he’s a thick player and he’s a tremendous athlete,” Pioli said. “I think one of the things that you get to see on tape is his hustle, how hard he plays. This is a big man who is playing almost every snap of every game with a team and in a situation where they’re losing a lot of football games.
“No matter what the score is and what the situation is, this guy is going 100 miles an hour, even in the fourth quarter. I think that has something to do with how we feel about his makeup.”
With the increased demand in nickel and dime personnel to counter four and five wide receiver sets, finding three-down interior defensive linemen has become incredibly difficult.
“When we go to our four-man front in our sub situations, one area that we wanted to improve was the inside pass rush,” Pioli explained. “Now we’ve got another big body in there that has dynamic physical skills.
“We have a couple of players that can play the inside now with
Memphis’ scattered use of Poe may have hurt his college production, but it likely increased his draft standing. There is film on Poe playing nearly every technique on the defensive line and the Chiefs charted each play from his 2011 season.
“You have to force a player on your inside to play the run in sub-package sets, which was a problem for us last year,” Pioli explained. “When we were in our sub packages teams ran against us and we had our struggles.“But now you’ve also got a player that maybe if he’s lining up on the same side as Tamba, who is creating a real threat and having to take up bodies, that it helps the g