Keep. It. Simple. Stupid.
You probably remember the acronym from your childhood days, but the concept is incredibly relevant to our football Chiefs when it came to the number five overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft. While many outside of the Chiefs Draft Room over-analyzed the nuances of taking a safety in the top-10 (much less the top-five), those inside the Draft Room decided to keep it simple.
At the end of the day
1) Berry represented a “position of need”
2) Berry was the best player on the Chiefs board
“The deciding factors were, at that point in time, that he was a player at a position of need and the best player,” general manager Scott Pioli said. “That’s what it came down to.”
Maybe there were the debates about the perceived dangers of taking a safety in the top-10. Then again, Pioli said all along that he was more interested in evaluating the player’s ability to perform as a top-five pick rather than the position (unless that position was kicker).
Maybe there was a debate about Berry vs. Russell Okung, or maybe even Rolando McClain factored into the discussions as well. Who knows?
Then again, maybe it was Berry all along.
“We went through the couple scenarios of what might happen and what might not happen and we felt that if he was the player that was there when we picked, then he was the player that we were going to do it with,” Pioli revealed.
“We were comfortable with him the entire time,” Pioli continued.
From Peter King to Mike Mayock, Pioli planted the seed of doubt in enough football minds to cast more than a reasonable doubt about his pre-draft commitment to Berry at number five. At the end of the day, Pioli pulled the trigger on the man he had identified as the Chiefs first-rounder all along.
“The problem was that we didn’t know how things were going to fall,” Pioli said.
Things ended up falling in line ahead of the Chiefs and that perceived problem never became a reality.
Going into the draft most people believed that Pioli’s issue was with drafting the position at number five and not the player. That aspect scared some Chiefs fans who camped in the Berry bandwagon from start to finish. The cautionary talk originally got kick-started with a single paragraph from King’s infamous Monday Morning Quarterback column on SI.com
As you’re all well aware, King wrote the following on March 22nd…
Atlanta GM Thomas Dimitroff calls the safety-at-the-top-of-the-draft debate a conundrum. "It's been on my mind a lot lately," he said, "and I realize I'm speaking out of both sides of my mouth here, but Berry's a really good player. It's been on my mind quite a bit recently. You want the good hitter with hip movement, able to turn and run, but then reality sets in. I was talking to [Kansas City GM] Scott Pioli about Berry, and I said, 'Scott, this guy's your pick.' And he said, 'You know how I feel about safeties that early.' And I understand.''
As it turns out, Dimitroff was right all along. He called Pioli’s pick one month ago. Pioli, a former co-worker and friend of Dimitroff, wasn’t delivering an intentional smoke-screen either. Those concerns were discussed and dissected, but in the end Berry trumped all.
“We spent a lot of time on that (topic),” Pioli said of discussions involving the choice of a safety at five. “Trends are trends and sometimes they make sense and sometimes they don’t, especially when the game evolves.
“I spent a lot of time and Todd spent a lot of time in separate conversations with a lot of different football people on this and trying to come to the arrival,” Pioli continued. “If you stay entrenched into one way of thinking over a long period of time or if you think you have all the answers and don’t pay attention to other people and trends that are changing the league, you may set yourself up for failure. Yes a lot of time was spent on that.”
Berry is a defensive player who has evolved alongside an offensive game, at least at the collegiate level. He has the versatility to play close to the line as well as center field on the back line. He’s lined up at cornerback and he can adapt to the unorthodox sets that are continually infiltrating the professional game.
In a word, Berry is versatile. At the end of the day, the Chiefs didn’t just view Berry as a safety. They viewed him as something different, something special.
“I don’t know that I have a specific time but there were just a bunch of those points during this process that Scott and I would look at each other, whisper to each other that this might be the guy,” head coach Todd Haley said.
Berry ended up being that guy. As it turns out, it sounds like he might have been the choice all along.