Is Chiefs general manager John Dorsey the best?

As we take stock of the 2016 season , lets take a look at the job performance of Kansas City Chiefs general manager John Dorsey.

Dorsey has done a remarkable job in assembling this team to this point. We will go year by year, starting with the 2013 season when he was hired, and some of the good and bad (yes, there are a few) decisions that have been made.

2013

Whenever you have complete and total overhaul of an organization, like we saw after the amazingly awful 2012 season, many changes will be made. With a quarterback class that indeed was awful as many of the experts predicted, the Chiefs appear to have been wise in their decision to trade for Alex Smith as opposed to going forward with Geno Smith or EJ Manuel.

In free agency, the Chiefs were able to find Sean Smith from the Dolphins, Husain Abdullah and Mike DeVito was a solid members of the defense for multiple seasons. Geoff Schwartz would instantly become a fan favorite for the one season he would spend playing for the Chiefs, and in fact, that season would help lay the ground work with the Chiefs signing of his brother, Mitchell Schwartz from the Cleveland Browns this past offseason.

On the waiver wire, the Chiefs added seven players, including starters Ron Parker and Jaye Howard, and got contributions from Marcus Cooper and Dezman Moses.  Sean McGrath was a sensation while here with his beard, and guard Rishaw Johnson would later be used in a trade that would net the Chiefs safety Kelsie McCray.

The draft is where Dorsey did rather well, especially in a class so devoid of talent. If you want to find a good general manager, go find what they are able to do in a bad draft. (The Packers, with Dorsey in the front office in 2009, another weak draft, found three starters, including all pro players B.J. Raji and Clay Matthews).

In the first round, Eric Fisher was selected ahead of the much-loved Luke Joeckel. While Fisher certainly hasn’t been a star, he’s a significant upgrade over Joeckel, who went second overall to the Jaguars. Without a second round selection, the Chiefs grabbed Cincinnati tight end Travis Kelce at the top of the third round. After missing his rookie season due to a knee injury, Kelce has emerged as a playmaking threat at tight end and versatile weapon.  Knile Davis has been a valuable returner. The rest of the draft provided a limited to no impact, but there are big impact contributors early in the draft.

Misses, yes, there was a miss. The Chiefs front office decided Dwayne Bowe was someone they had to hold on to and gave him a contract extension. His contributions, which began to wane at this point, would only get worse until his release soon after the Chiefs signed Jeremy Maclin in the 2015 offseason.

Notable un-drafted free agents that season include backup tight end Demetrius Harris, third-string quarterback Tyler Bray, and backup linebacker Josh Martin was a valuable contributor for two seasons.  While it certainly holds true you can’t fix all your issues in one offseason, the groundwork was laid.

Sep 29, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs free safety Husain Abdullah (39) returns an interception for a touchdown against New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won 41-14. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 29, 2014; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs free safety Husain Abdullah (39) returns an interception for a touchdown against New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) in the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. Kansas City won 41-14. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

2014

Thus far, it can be said the 2014 was the worst for the front office. With limited money to spend in the offseason due to money spent in the 2013 off season, players such as Schwartz and Jon Asamoah left via free agency, with only Abdullah extending of the notable free agents.

The draft, to a certain degree, wasn’t much nicer. While Dee Ford has certainly been better this season, the jury is still out on his ability to be legitimate contributor and threat on the outside. His play has dropped off in recent weeks. Phillip Gaines was a player that has never really looked comfortable or solid for long periods of time,  and now knee injuries are affecting Gaines and possibly cutting short his time with the Chiefs after this season.

De’Anthony Thomas has been a bit of an enigma, as some, myself included, are not really sure what he brings to this team and why he’s on the roster. Aaron Murray has been jettisoned. It could be said the best long-term contributors have been the pair of sixth round pick offensive lineman, Zach Fulton and Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. The undrafted market was much kinder to Dorsey and the Chiefs as they were able to find contributors in Daniel Sorensen, Albert Wilson and Charcandrick West. Also, Tulane’s Cairo Santos was part of the class. He would win the job in camp.

The Chiefs were also able to land McCray from the Buccaneers in exchange for Rishaw Johnson. McCray was not a star, but he did provide solid depth before being moved to Seattle before the 2015 season for a mid round draft pick.

It should be noted this was the only season in Dorsey’s tenure he was unable to make the playoffs. To a certain degree, that would prove to be fortuitous. Smith would sign his contract extension in the 2014 offseason, paving the way for stability at the position the organization had not experienced in recent seasons.

Sep 25, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters (22) celebrates after intercepting a pass in the end zone during the second half against the New York Jets at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 24-3. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 25, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters (22) celebrates after intercepting a pass in the end zone during the second half against the New York Jets at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 24-3. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

2015

At first glance, it’s difficult to overstate just how impressive the 2015 offseason was. All stages of player acquisition were solid and provided help on both sides of the football.

Wide receiver was a huge need, and the Chiefs addressed that position quickly landing Eagles wideout Jeremy Maclin, a fan favorite of fans who watched him at the University of Missouri. Tyvon Branch provided solid depth that season after coming over from the Oakland Raiders.

The draft would yield plenty of talent and finds.

First round pick Marcus Peters is well on his way to being one of the best corners in the game. From his first game, Peters has been dominant and a threat to turn the field on every snap. Only in his second year, Peters has already earned the distinction of affecting opposing teams game plans, forcing the ball to the other side of the field.

Second round pick Mitch Morse was selected from Missouri to be a center, despite playing tackle in college. Morse would go on not only to transition to the new position, but take over as starter as a rookie, and has been solid ever since.

Chris Conley and Steve Nelson would come in round three, and both have contributed this 2016 season, especially Nelson, who’s helping to make Gaines expendable with his solid play (along with Terrance Mitchell). Fourth round pick Ramik Wilson is starting at middle linebacker, fifth round pick D.J. Alexander is a top reserve linebacker and key special teams contributor, and sixth round pick Rakeem Nunez-Roches appears to have found talent he didn’t know he had, and has been a solid performer along the defensive line.

Fifth rounder James O’Shaugnessey has played sparingly thus far and one has to wonder his fit long term, and seventh round pick DaRon Brown was on the Chiefs practice squad during the 2015 season before being cut prior to the start of the 2016 season.

The Chiefs would end their extended dry spell of postseason success with a thrashing of the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round only to fall the next week to the New England Patriots.  The biggest concern perhaps stems from the issues this organization has had healing ACL injuries. Justin Houston sat out the second half of the season only attempt to play in the playoffs. Further testing showed Houston had a damaged (non functioning) ACL. Gaines suffered an ACL tear in the thrashing the Chiefs took in the Monday night game against the Packers. Both players have had issues returning from injury, and both may miss the 2016 playoffs due to issues arising from those injuries.

Oct 23, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones (95) is introduced prior to a game against the New Orleans Saints at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 27-21. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 23, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones (95) is introduced prior to a game against the New Orleans Saints at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 27-21. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

2016

With the season still going on, it’s difficult to fully evaluate the season and decisions as they go on, save for a couple moves that simply can’t be over stated.

We’ll start with this offseason, with the signing of right tackle Mitchell Schwartz from the Cleveland Browns. Schwartz, perhaps one of the best right tackles in football, has been a true find for the Chiefs, and has been a really solid addition. Rare in that Schwartz is a pass block first right tackle, Mitchell has really helped solidify the edge of the Chiefs right side. Is he a power blocking tackle? No. But here’s a secret about the Chiefs offensive line. They are not scouted or drafted to be power run blockers.

The offensive line is put together with the explicit intent of being mobile, prioritizing movement and athleticism over pure power. It’s not an accident this team runs a bunch of screens, counter runs and off tackle plays.

Nick Foles was a solid signing for the backup quarterback spot, and could create a small amount of drama depending on what the Chiefs are looking to do at quarterback going forward. Is Foles a great, elite starter? No.  But this team could do a lot worse at the backup position (They almost did, came this close to having Tyler Bray as their backup)

In the draft, it certainly can be said to be a mixed bag (perhaps a glass case of emotion). Second round pick Chris Jones appears to be a future star, and has been a beast in pushing the pocket. Certainly appears to Chiefs have yet another find (hopefully, as you’ve read this, you realize, John Dorsey appears to know what he’s doing in the draft). However, that momentum was quickly slowed down with the selection of KeiVarae Russell from Notre Dame. With a need at corner, Russell was never able to see meaningful snaps in the preseason and was released quietly after the opening game of the season.

Kansas City followed that up with the whiff of quarterback Kevin Hogan before selecting three players in the fourth round (G Parker Ehinger , DB Eric Murray and WR Demarcus Robinson). Dak Prescott was available. I don’t need to say anything more.

Despite the legitimate and earned blow back of the Tyreek Hill pick, his speed truly is game-changing. Certainly hope that Hill is able to continue to stay off the police blotter and stay in the game.

Perhaps Dorsey (and the rest of the front office deserves A LOT  of credit here) was the ability to find players who could contribute that were basically found on the scrap heap. I’ve already written on Mitchell and Kendell Reyes, and Jarvis Jenkins. With injuries and ineffectivness from others, these players have stepped in and played well enough to keep the team in games and allow the team to flourish.

As we move forward, the future is certainly bright. Depth and talent are certainly there. The next phase in Dorsey’s tenure is what he does at the quarterback position, or what he does with expensive and talented players moving forward. With the salary cap and age what it is, next season is likely the last season the Chiefs can run Justin Houston AND Alex Smith (both have massive 2018 cap numbers) on the team. Tough decisions will have to be made.

When you read from various writers that QB is the biggest draft need, this is why. Also, and this is important and interesting, outside of a quarterback, what are the true needs for the Chiefs?  That’s the impact John Dorsey has had.

October 8, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans running back Justin Davis (22) runs the ball against the Colorado Buffaloes during the first half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Davis, RB, Southern California. (6-0/200)

The Chiefs could certainly use some depth at running back, especially a back with some quickness and acceleration. He also appears comfortable catching the ball out of the backfield, a very important trait in the Chiefs offense. Davis certainly fits the bill.

My uneducated view of Davis.

Positives:

  • Has quickness and ability to get up the field
  • Can catch the ball out of the backfield
  • Averaged 5.4 yards per carry
  • Average 5.3 yards per carry for his career at USC
  • One cut and up the field type runner

Negatives:

  • Injuries are an issue, missed 3 games in the 2016 season
  • Never the true feature back at USC, played in shadow of Ronald Jones
  • Upright running style leads to additional contact
  • Appears good in many areas, but excels in few to no areas
  • Special teams contributions could be limited
  • Will need to add weight with his style to last in the league.

Projected draft round for Chiefs: Round 4

He’s the type of running back that if everything hits, you get a steal. Can do a lot of things, and may not be a star, could possibly  bring a different element to the offense that other running backs do.

His style reminds me of Terrell Davis coming out of college. Davis battled injuries through his career at Georgia, recording more then 100 carries in a season only once, his junior year. Terrell would plant his foot and get up the field, as Justin Davis does.

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