KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Much has changed since last year’s draft for Chiefs general manager John Dorsey.
For one thing, he’s not living out of suitcases, having just been hired to overhaul a 2-14 team. His family has moved to town, so he’s sleeping a bit better. And he’s feeling more comfortable in a Chiefs sweatshirt as opposed to the Packers one he wore for so many years.
The biggest change, though?
“About 22 picks,” Dorsey said with a chuckle.
A year ago, the Chiefs had the No. 1 overall selection, the entire NFL waiting to see what they would do. But after going 11-5 and making the playoffs, the Chiefs sit at No. 23 in next week’s draft, left to ponder the moves just about every other team will make.
It is an important draft for the Chiefs on many fronts.
They lost a slew of players to free agency, including Pro Bowl left tackle Branden Albert and Pro Bowl punt returner Dexter McCluster. While the Chiefs are confident that they have replacements for those two already on the roster, there are other positions weakened by free agency where that is not the case, and depth remains an issue up and down the roster.
Meanwhile, the cash-strapped Chiefs were unable to make any significant moves in free agency to address their most pressing needs because of the salary cap. That means positions such as safety and wide receiver could become the areas of focus in the draft.
“You would like to get a slam dunk. That’s all personnel guys’ objectives,” Dorsey said Friday, when asked whether it was critical to draft players who could help immediately.
“I’m a glass-half-full kind of guy,” he said. “I believe everybody we select will help.”
That belief is only emboldened by the fact that the Chiefs had more time to prepare for this year’s draft. Dorsey was hired shortly after the calendar flipped to 2013, and was forced to piece together his first class from the knowledge he gleaned while working in the front office in Green Bay and the legwork done by Kansas City scouts working under the previous regime.
Now, he’s been able to tweak his scouting department to suit not only his needs but also those of Chiefs coach Andy Reid, and spend an entire season developing a plan for the draft.
“It’s a very arduous task. It’s turned into a yearlong cycle, as we speak,” Dorsey said. “With that being said, I’m very comfortable with this personnel staff because it’s likeminded. “They all understand what the total objective is of the organization. They all understand how I’d like things to be done. That’s very important. They understand when we sit in that draft room, it’s time for discussion. Anything can be said. If you want to say your piece, don’t hold back.”
That level of comfort may not have existed last season, when the Chiefs were on the clock with the first overall pick. They wound up selecting Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher, and he immediately moved into the starting lineup at right tackle as a rookie.
Speaking of last year’s draft, Dorsey was unwilling to put a grade on it a year removed from making his first picks, saying that it takes at least three years to pass judgment.
Fisher will be moving to left tackle to replace Albert, and running back Knile Davis showed flashes of brilliance last season. But otherwise, the first crop of rookies that Dorsey brought in struggled with injuries and did little to leave their mark.
“Like I said in the past, and I’ll say it today, I’m very happy with that class,” Dorsey said, “and I look forward to great things from these guys coming up in this training camp.”