I’m afraid writing this has been on hold for (quite) a while, but time marches forward, and the draft’s just around the corner, let’s get on with the orchestral maneuvers, shall we?
It’s that time of the year again, when hope and optimism are reborn once again. Free agency and the draft, of course, what did you think I was talking about? Anyhoo, I didn’t come here to talk about the draft, or even to sing a song about Alice. Or at least, the draft’s a part of today’s topic, but it isn’t the focal point, and we’re now well into the FA zone.
You see, at this time every year fans are looking at the problems they see with their teams and working out how to address them. Normally, and this year’s no exception, these solutions are framed in a free-agency point of view or a draft view. But there’s a problem with over-compartmentalizing when thinking about the off season. Free agency, the draft, UDFAs (Uff da! as they say up here) and roster cut-down dates are all separate things, but they are also all interrelated, so isolating one out and ignoring the others (easy way) is likely to have skewed results. Gotta keep the others in mind, too, even if you don’t discuss them directly.
We as fans like to compartmentalize things like FA and the draft because it simplifies things. Nothing wrong with that, but the trap is in trying to “plug the holes” in one of the options isolated, without consideration for the others. It’s not an either-or thing, not if you’re someone like Veach. If you’re assembling a roster, you need a more holistic approach. If you look at the FA moves by Veach this offseason, you’ll see that he hasn’t been ignoring the offense.
Furthermore, since we aren’t someone like Veach, we don’t have a team of people researching who’s going to be available in free agency as well as a team on the draft doing much the same thing, plus the input from the coaching staff, as well. Further, there’s almost certainly some who are on both teams as well as specialists who are more tightly dialed in on specifics.
Why does this all matter? Because when it comes to things like mock drafts, it’s important to not get too locked into that compartment by trying to do it all (In our case, the “all” is “Fix the Defense.”) in one compartment, i.e. the Draft or free agency. There will be a slew of opportunities to shore up both sides of the ball, so getting bent out of shape because the FO does something like pick a OT or other O-side player early in the draft will be a bit silly. While they will likely emphasize the D for this Draft, I don’t expect them to go 100% on that side of the team unless there are no opportunities to get a value pick with an Offensive player.
Then again, I’m not going to panic if they do go 100% D in the draft, because I know there will be opportunities to add to the O in the future. The key to it all is mental flexibility, and it’s hard to have that when you’re cramped into a tight little compartment.
So does that mean you have to embrace the holistic approach for mocks and such? Of course not, let’s don’t be silly about that. Draft forecasting is hard enough for the professionals, so it’s reasonable for us amateurs to simplify things, so go right ahead with that.
The main message here is to not forget that your simplified solution isn’t a stand-alone RL thing, because the reality is that personnel moves are all interrelated – so don’t freak out if Veach grabs, say, an OT in the first round if one of the better ones unexpectedly drops into range for him. He still has a lot to learn about his job, but leaving aside outliers like Hitch, it’s pretty clear that Veach likes to go for value, and in any way he can find it. Bringing in former first-rounders who’ve come available on the cheap is one example, and poaching Buttkicker.com is another.
So have fun playing the GM game, just keep in mind that the way we look at it isn’t what “ought to be”, so if the Chiefs go a different route from such predictions, that isn’t necessarily a mistake on Veach’s part. Doesn’t mean he can’t make a mistake in the upcoming draft, but it’s well known that the draft’s always got an element of chance to it, and nobody can be called a solid lock to succeed to expectation. The roster isn’t set, and there will be opportunities to make personnel moves right up until the trade deadline. Up until that time, there will be plenty to discuss, and to this point our community does plenty of that in what’s probably the most fun and civilized comment sections on the internet. Kudos all around.