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Pioli shows his smarts with Chiefs pick of Baldwin

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Recent posts by Eli Kaberon

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Posted April 29, 2011 @ 12:28 a.m. ET
By Eli Kaberon

Chiefs GM Scott Pioli comes from the Bill Belichick School of Drafting, which features a curriculum based on moving back to stockpile more picks and trusting the team's draft board instead of the popular consensus.

Pioli was the student at the school for many years, but he clearly has earned his diploma based on what he did Thursday night. The GM traded back, added an extra selection, and took a sleeper pick at the position his team needed help in most.

Originally picking 21st, the Chiefs decided to deal with the Browns for the 27th overall selection that Cleveland had acquired from the Falcons in the Julio Jones trade; they also picked up the Browns' third-round pick, No. 70 overall. With multiple positions of need and a good group of players still available, Pioli clearly believed that Kansas City could acquire a top talent while adding more depth later in the weekend.

Yet when the 27th pick was read by commissioner Roger Goodell, it wasn't the Chiefs. The Ravens — picking right before K.C. — allowed their time to elapse, passing on the pick and enabling the Chiefs to move up and select at No. 26. Once K.C. handed their card in, Pittsburgh WR Jonathan Baldwin was taken off the board and the Chiefs had a new big-play wideout coming to town.

Though some will wonder why the team opted against picking an offensive lineman or linebacker, two of the greatest needs of the team, there is no denying that K.C. had to acquire a pass catcher to complement the league's top-ranked running game. Dwayne Bowe was the only wide receiver to make more than 22 catches last season, and when he was double-teamed, the Chiefs had no chance to move the ball through the air. Baldwin, who left school following his junior season, has a solid combination of size (6-4 3/8, 228) and speed (4.51 seconds in the 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine), making him the player of QB Matt Cassel's dreams.

There are questions of Baldwin's maturity and effort to do the little things, a reason many didn't have him pegged to go in Round One. However, those are issues the Belichick School doesn't worry about. Pioli and head coach Todd Haley clearly have done their homework on the Pitt receiver and believe his supreme talent outweighs any negatives he could bring to the team. Pioli has his diploma; picks like this will determine if he's in line to earn a PhD.


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