KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Chiefs general manager John Dorsey firmly believes the greatest stride for a player’s development occurs from the first season to the second.
Along with his conviction surrounding player growth, Dorsey is a staunch advocate of building a team through the draft.
“I’m going to do it the Chiefs way,” Dorsey said last week during a conference call with Chiefs media. “And the Chiefs way, as we said all along, is we’re going to be selective in free agency and we’re going to build a foundation through the draft, and that’s kind of how we’re going to do this thing.”
Both philosophies will be put to the test in May for what is arguably an important draft as Dorsey seeks to establish a foundation in his second season at the helm.
So why place an emphasis on the 2014 draft?
The Chiefs don’t have second- and seventh-round picks, both losses resulting from trades, in what is widely viewed as one of the deepest drafts of the past decade.
The second rounder now belongs to the San Francisco 49ers as part of the trade that sent quarterback Alex Smith to Kansas City. The seventh-round pick was packaged as part of the deal that sent linebacker Edgar Jones to the Dallas Cowboys in exchange for Dallas’ sixth-round pick.
Additionally, the Chiefs currently only have one pick among the top 86 selection spots:
• No second as part of Smith trade
• 6.193 (from Dallas in Jones trade)
• No seventh as part of Jones trade
The Chiefs have holes to fill on the roster after losing a good portion of major contributors from last season’s 11-5 playoff team to free agency.
And because of the team’s approach to free agency and emphasis on second-year players, the development of the 2013 draft class will also be important as the Chiefs look to the future.
However, Dorsey’s philosophy currently can’t be applied to tight end Travis Kelce, who landed on injured reserve with a knee injury, and defensive back Sanders Commings, who only played in two games before also landing on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.
The Chiefs remain high on both, especially Commings, but it’s difficult to gauge their progress given their lost seasons. In theory, 2014 will be their rookie campaigns.
Moreover, it remains to be seen if Eric Fisher, who played right tackle in 2013 as the No. 1 pick overall last season, is ready to handle left tackle despite being named the starter.
Of course, the 2013 draft provided gems. Running back Knile Davis offered depth behind starter Jamaal Charles and contributed as a returner, while defensive end Mike Catapano contributed on special teams and the defensive line rotation. The Chiefs are also high on center Eric Kush, a sixth-round pick.
Meanwhile, the jury is out on inside linebacker Nico Johnson, a fourth-round pick, as the Chiefs have gone two straight offseasons with signing a veteran inside linebacker through free agency. Last year was Akeem Jordan, now with the Washington Redskins, and Joe Mays this year.
A glaring mistake occurred with the sixth-round selection of fullback Braden Wilson, who was cut during training camp.
That error of a wasted selection can’t be repeated in 2014 when considering the team’s possession of six picks in a deep draft.
Still, the Chiefs have time to address that hole entering May or even throughout the draft by seeking potential trades to acquire more draft picks.
More importantly from last week’s conference call, it appears Dorsey is open to doing that if necessary.
“My phone is always open if you want to tell those guys if they want to trade up or down, just give me a call,” Dorsey said. “You know what; you have to do everything within your power to see if you can do things.
“Rest assured that I will try to do everything I can to move up (or) move down if I feel like it’s time to pull the trigger and go up and get a player, or pull the trigger to move down to get a player, I will use every resource available to me.”