KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John Dorsey enters his fourth NFL Draft with the Chiefs since becoming the general manager in 2013 and this is the time of year he carries extra enthusiasm.
“We’re six days closer to the draft and from a personnel guy like myself, that’s an exciting time,” Dorsey said Friday. “You have an exciting time to better the organization and moving the franchise forward.”
Perhaps the depth of the 2016 draft class also explains the general manager’s exuberance.
“This is a good draft, it’s a deep class,” Dorsey said. “You have to remember, I think that the draft has shown it, you can acquire starters anywhere throughout the seven rounds of this thing, you can even acquire starters, if you really want to, in free agency. You just have to be very selective and you have to watch with a steady eye to see if you can acquire those players.”
Still, the Chiefs arguably don’t have a lot of holes to fill after coming off an 11-5 season and a postseason berth.
And the team’s foundation is relatively intact despite entering the league’s new calendar year in March with 14 players scheduled for unrestricted free agency.
The Chiefs designated safety Eric Berry as a franchise player, while re-signing inside linebacker Derrick Johnson, outside linebackers Tamba Hali and Frank Zombo, defensive end Jaye Howard and defensive back Jamell Fleming.
“The other part was we have a good football team and I think the 2016 season plan going into it was to retain as many of our players as we possibly could,” Dorsey said. “I think we did a good job with that and we’ve gotten other players from other teams that are going to help move this thing forward, and that’s exciting. And then you add the pieces of the draft.”
The Chiefs currently own the 28th overall pick in the draft, which occurs April 28-30, and have a total of seven picks, including two fifth-round picks, to work with to add to the roster.
But Dorsey faces a challenge without a third-round selection after the NFL denied the Chiefs’ appeal for violating the anti-tampering policy surrounding improper contact with wide receiver Jeremy Maclin in 2015.
Any specific questions surrounding the penalty, however, were deferred.
“(Chiefs chairman and CEO) Clark (Hunt) made a statement for the organization Monday or Tuesday and I think that statement speaks for everybody in the organization, including myself,” Dorsey said. “So with that, I’m moving forward and we’re moving forward as an organization.”
Dorsey said he currently has 180 players on his draft board, but didn’t offer insight as to the direction – player or position – the Chiefs will go during the three days of the draft.
But the general manager took a moment to explain his “best player available” philosophy when it comes to building the team.
“Our board is set up to draft for the Kansas City Chiefs,” Dorsey said. “There are other teams that draft for the National Football League, meaning they set their board for the entire NFL and who’s in the draft.
“Ours is going to be a little more selective, and what that is, is the player that we draft will meet the position specifics that have been given to us from coordinators to head coaches. And these are the type of players it would take to win and contribute and have a high degree of success on the field if you get these types of players that fit those parameters. So, we are going to do that. We’ve done that year in and year out.”
DECISION COMING ON FISHER
The May 2 deadline for the Chiefs to exercise a fifth-year option on left tackle Eric Fisher, the No. 1 overall pick in 2013, is rapidly approaching.
But don’t expect Dorsey to address Fisher’s status until after the NFL Draft.
“I do things a little bit different; everybody does things differently in the National Football League,” Dorsey said. “I think what I do is I’m at times compartmentalizing a little bit too much. So, really, the task at hand for me is to make sure we nail this draft. And I think when we get to Monday (May 2), we’ll deal with Monday.”
Barring a contract extension, the fifth-year option for Fisher, who enters the final year of his contract, would carry an $11.096 million price tag should the Chiefs go that route.
STATUS QUO ON BERRY
Dorsey said he remains in contact with safety Eric Berry’s agent as the two sides look to work on a potential long-term deal.
And Dorsey has recent experience dealing with such matters when the Chiefs dealt with a then-franchised outside linebacker Justin Houston in 2015.
“These things take a process,” Dorsey said. “Last year, I kept telling you all Justin’s thing is a process. It’s going to take time and very slowly it’s going to evolve. At the end of the day, good things will happen.”
The Chiefs eventually signed Houston to a six-year, $101 million deal on July 15, the final day of the deadline.
Of course, the Chiefs would be best served to an identical scenario with Berry when considering his franchise designation carries a $10.8 million price tag.
The Chiefs currently has $782,809 in available cap space, but an extension with Berry would free room, an important consideration because the team needs cap space to sign draft picks and undrafted free agents before training camp.
Nevertheless, Dorsey didn’t appear concerned over the current cap situation.
“Well, I mean, we have plenty of time,” Dorsey said. “The easiest thing would be to get an extension here, and extension there. We have that space available and really don’t have to get it until training camp, so we have plenty of time to address the space thing.”