PIOLI: “How’s everyone doing? Late night for everyone? I know Todd’s been down here and I think you all had a chance to talk to WR Jonathan (Baldwin) already. We came up at 21, had several opportunities, several trade offers. We were talking about a pool of players or a group of players that we were interested in and we thought that one of the opportunities in the trade was probably too good to pass up and we felt going back to where we went that we’d have an opportunity to get a player we really liked, thought was a really good player and also at a position of need. [We] took that risk, picked up that third-round pick from Cleveland, pulled the trigger on it and as we went down further from that group of players, there were still a couple players alive that we liked and Jonathan was the guy we selected.”
Q: Would he have been your guy at 21 if you had not traded down?
PIOLI: “We had a group of players that we were talking about at that time and I think that’s part of what we’ve talked about in the past, Adam, in terms of not only having the evaluation done, but having some strategy involved as well. So there was a group of players that we felt really good about, that we talked about and we felt by moving back to 27 wouldn’t be that far of a move back and had a group of players that we felt good about – any one of those players could have helped us, in different ways, but in the end result, pretty much equally.”
Q: As far as receiver, why him at 27 when there were obviously other receivers available? What was it about him that you liked?
PIOLI: “At that point in time, when we picked him, obviously he was our highest-rated receiver at that point in time when we made the selection. Here’s what we like about Jonathan: he’s big, he’s strong, he’s fast, he’s been very productive, he’s got tremendous catching ability and we think, based on where we’re at, at this point in time, that he gives us some things we don’t necessarily have right now. He’s a guy who runs sub-4.5 (40-yard dash), he’s big, he’s over 6’4”, he’s a big, strong target with really, really good hands.”
Q: Can he run after the catch?
PIOLI: “He can run after the catch. He’s got strength to run after the catch. We think he’ll add a new dynamic to our team down in the Red Zone in terms of being a big receiver. That gives us two big receivers that have different types of route-running skills now and different types of speed and who can run complementary routes.”
Q: Can you compare him to a guy who is playing in the league right now?
PIOLI: “No, not really. I generally stay away from comparisons because I think it’s unfair because if you compare them to people playing in the league, you’re talking about a guy who hasn’t played in the league and you don’t want to get ahead of yourself in making comparisons. Maybe after a year and seeing where he’s at and maybe we can do some comparisons once he gets a little production in the league and you can see him against NFL-level players.”
Q: You don’t see his skills as being somewhat similar to WR
PIOLI: “They’re different. Some of the skills are the same and some are different. They are different types of receivers.”
Q: He had a big per-catch average, almost 20 yards. Was that down-the-field stuff or run-after-the-catch stuff?
PIOLI: “It was both. It was mostly down-the-field stuff though. He’s a guy who going into this draft I think was probably the one that had the highest yards-per-catch average in that group this year.”
Q: How much more difficult has this draft process been for you without having free agency?
PIOLI: “It hasn’t been difficult, to tell you the truth. Here’s the deal, any time you’re in any component of player acquisition, whether it’s free agency or the draft or even when the season starts, you know that you have needs or musts, needs and wants, you know what the roster situation is and you have a certain set of circumstances you’re working under and at some point in time one or the other is going to happen. So this year it was just a different order of things and it really isn’t that different because even if you go through free agency before the draft, you go into the draft and there are still needs you have on your football team. What we try to do is not waste energy on things that we can’t control. The situation is what it is and you just work within that and the more time you spend worrying about ‘Oh, I wish we could do this or I wish we could do that or these are awkward circumstances,’ if you think like that, you’re wasting time and energy on something that the energy and those efforts and that time would be much better spent on the draft.”
Q: Jonathan doesn’t seem to have the spotless background that some of the guys you drafted last year had and somewhat the year before did. How did you reconcile talent and need, things like that versus maybe he’s not a sure thing to not be a risk?
PIOLI: “First of all, I wouldn’t say that last year’s class or players drafted last year had spotless backgrounds. Here’s what you do, when you go through the evaluation process, you look at the full body of work, you have to rely on people and resources and the things that you know and we vetted this player out, along with many other players who have had situations in their past or in their background, you spend time with the player, you spend time with individuals that you have good relationships and trusting relationships and you talk to a lot of people. We talked to a lot of people on this and feel very confident. I’ve said this before, if I was being judged today for the way I acted at 20 and 21 years old, people might have a different opinion of me. Maybe.”
Q: Is this team better equipped this year to handle somebody who maybe doesn’t have a spotless background?
PIOLI: “I don’t know if we’re better equipped at this point or not but I think that speaks to the fact of where we feel we’re at with this player. I don’t know if I feel like we’ll ever be in a place where you can deviate from what we believe Chiefs player, what we want Chiefs players to be. So I don’t think we’re deviating from or getting ourselves into a situation here. I don’t think we are, Todd doesn’t, as an organization we don’t think we’re deviating in this sense.”
Q: In your scouting and preparation, you guys clearly feel confident and comfortable that this guy is not going to be a distraction and that he’s going to offer only positive things?
PIOLI: “We feel very good about the pick, we really do, and like I said, not just on Jonathan but quite a few other players. Different classes have different people in it and you do your homework and you trust your homework and the resources that you have.”
Q: How do you feel about the value you got in the trade down? Is that the value you expected to get at the point?
PIOLI: “In terms of the pick, we were really happy with the value. So now we’re sitting here again, we’ve talked in the past about getting players that you want, having good players and if you can accumulate currency along the way, now we’re sitting here tomorrow and we’ve got a second and two thirds, we’re in a little bit different position – we’re looking at a draft where we’ve now picked up a third and a fifth this year and we feel pretty good moving forward. We feel we got really strong value because now having that extra third allows you to do a lot of different things, that may be two players in the third round, that may be moving up in the second round, that may be moving up from one of those picks in the third round, there are a lot of things that can be done. Again, the more currency you have the more opportunity you create for yourself.
Q: Take us through what happened there at the 26th pick, was that confusing to you guys when Baltimore skipped their pick?
PIOLI: “Well, here’s what you do, as you’re getting ready to go on the clock, you have a group of players that you’re looking at, you have an idea of the player that you want to pick but then you have this full group of players and you also have in the back of your mind that you’re going to have 10 minutes generally to field calls and potentially make another trade. When we’re sitting there waiting, we knew the player we wanted to pick, we were watching the clock go down, we’re listening to our people in New York and we hear them tell us that Baltimore passed then in that time you have to start figuring out if you’re going to turn in the card immediately, are you going to listen to trades, is the opportunity to make sure that team isn’t going to jump back and hand in their card and it might be the player that you want and then your phone is ringing, which our phone was ringing from two separate teams that wanted to make trades so we were sitting there at the 27 that all a sudden became 26, we’re getting trade offers, we’re also getting the player on the phone at the same time, because one of the trick I’ve learned is be careful about how soon you get a player on the phone because if you get him on too early and another team finds out about it they may make a trade to jump ahead of you. All that is kind of unfolding at one, we’ve got the player on the phone, we turn in the pick and decided not to do the other trades and we had some pretty good offers but we knew we wanted this player. It was interesting. I’m not sure I’ve been through a situation like that. The good part is the entire room was calm, we had to make sure we had Jonathan on the phone and he wasn’t being talked to by Baltimore or someone else and then we kind of watched, trying to figure out who Joe Bussert was yelling at on the telephone.”
Q: That wasn’t you?
PIOLI: “That wasn’t me. Why would they yell at me? Come on.”
Q: You obviously felt Baldwin wasn’t going to be there if you traded back a few spots, you obviously felt Baldwin wasn’t going to be there?
PIOLI: “We didn’t want to take that risk. And it’s Baldwin, but it’s also again when you go into your pick, you have a player that you want, but you also have to have in the back of your mind, that if you get a really good trade opportunity, that’s where you have to sit there strategically and figure out and weigh things against each other as to, ‘OK do we take this player here or is this offer so good that you think that the value is that you might take a chance.’ The risk that we took going back from 21 to 27, we had a group of players that we really liked and those players could come off the board like that, and you end up without any of the players that you wanted, and you know I’ve seen that happen before as well. Fortunately that didn’t happen, but there were still a couple players we liked but the way the whole thing shook out with Baltimore, we didn’t want to sit there and take up our full 10 minutes because we had heard that they were talking about a trade so we didn’t know as we come to the decision that Jonathan was going to be our guy, we didn’t want to take [the risk].”
Q: It looked like your guys on television started writing pretty quickly the name in New York City did you start right and then you said hold the cards..
PIOLI: “That’s generally what you do. If you have a player in mind that you want to pick you tell them write, cover what they write, exactly right. This way other teams can’t see exactly, you know, there’s some teams that I’ll tell you what, they got guys with those night-vision goggles and they’re watching exactly what you’re doing, watching people on cards to see the name and that’s how they try to make trades.”
Q: What do you expect tomorrow morning, with your current players, do you expect some of them to come in, you guys got your own things going on?
PIOLI: “Well here’s what happens, we found out some of the information that was going on, and our primary focus, the draft is really important. This is an opportunity to improve our football team so what we did is we focus on the draft. That was the most important thing at hand. So what we’re going to do now, as soon as you’ll let me go here, we’re going to go upstairs and talk about what tomorrow’s plans are going to be like. There’s been, as Todd and I have focused on we’ve had some other people handling some things, getting us some information, making sure we understand everything and where it’s at and we can be more efficient in making decisions for tomorrow.”
Q: First draft day receivers seem to be boom or bust, and you haven’t taken one in the first round much. Is that something you take into consideration when looking at a player, receiver, its first round?
PIOLI: “Again, I’ve talked about trends, and past history, and I think history and trends are things that you pay attention to, but you don’t stay married to something just because it’s a trend or because certain things happened in the past. What you have to do is trust your eyes and you know trust your ears, and things that you learn about people, and getting too caught up in certain things, I mean that is part of the question last year. Who would draft a safety that high, safeties don’t get picked that high. That wasn’t something normally that had been a part of my past, teams I had been with in the past either, I think if you get yourself too tracked in to thinking one way, and staying locked in on whatever belief system that you have, not being altered, your setting yourself up for failure. You have to be open minded I think on things.”
Q: Say a quarterback in the first round at 21, would you draft them?
PIOLI: “I think that’s all speculation, I don’t know yet, not knowing who the player is, we can’t sit here and speculate. Sorry I just didn’t understand the question.”
Q: I’m sorry one last thing, you’ve kind of said in the past you’re not big on boom or bust kind of guys, generally favor conservative, safer picks, which category do you Jonathan Baldwin in? Is he a little bit in that boom or bust or do you feel pretty good about it?
PIOLI: “He’s a player we like and we feel very confident he’s going to be a good football player. We really do.”