ONE ON ONE: Chiefs GM Scott Pioli - Part II

In Part Two of our exclusive interview with Chiefs General Manager Scott Pioli, he talks about his rise from Cleveland to his current position and what he took away from his time in New England. Plus how that shaped his drafting philosophy in Kansas City.

Warpaint Illustrated: As you climbed up the executive ladder in Cleveland, Baltimore, New York and New England, how did it change and what the was the environment like when you had to start making those decisions for yourself in the Draft Room?

Scott Pioli: "There was a peace. Part of that was being with Bill Belichick. Where we were similar was when there's pressure. I slow down and Bill is the same way. Part of that I think is just about preparation. If you feel prepared for any situation, you should feel comfortable and calm by the decisions you have to make. Knowing that there's going to be ten things happen that you had no idea were going to happen and understanding that those things are out of your control. If you spend time, energy, and emotion fretting about those things, your setting lots of people up for failure.

If you are prepared and you spend the amount of hours that we have spent, you should go in there comfortable and knowing that you are going to make good decisions for the right reasons.

There are different beliefs about why they keep the draft room closed, or why do they have such few people in their draft room? I'm the type of person who needs calm around me. I need to be thoughtful. I think when there are distractions and chaos going on around you; you're not controlling the environment around you. I've spent enough time with all the scouts and coaches to get opinions. If we need to get updated thoughts and opinions, we pull them in. It has nothing to do with security or information getting out because everyone is going to know what we do anyway.

But that first time in New England we were so prepared and that's part of what I have learned over the years. If you are prepared, there is no reason to run around like a chicken with your head cut off or to have an emotional reaction. If you incorporate too much emotion, you're likely to make unsound decisions.

Part of the pressure that goes on that is internal there is no one that is going to put pressure on me to do the right thing than me. I know that's kind of cliché but I know the truth. I've got 53 players and their families counting on me not to screw it up. Plus I've got 20 coaches.

With the 2012 NFL Draft on the horizon, KC Chiefs GM Scott Pioli should be burning up the phone lines in the next several days.
Getty Images

So to me that's the real life pressure. Knowing that I've got to make decisions that affect every employee in this organization and hundreds of thousands of fans who live and die by the Chiefs. So to me if you know all that you keep it in a place and know that if you prepare, you're likely going to make good decisions."

WP: When you arrived in Kansas City in January of 2009 there wasn't much time to acclimated to your new surroundings and you had to use some of the staff that had remained from the previous staff. So what's been the biggest difference since your first draft compared to what's going to take place this April?

SP: "I left New England with certain knowledge of the (Chiefs) players. But here's the deal, I don't make these decisions on my own. The amount that I rely on the scouts and people that gather information like the doctors, trainers, and coaches there is so much that goes into it. Maybe I gather too much information sometimes but to me the biggest difference was changing gears. I knew what I was looking for and what I wanted and by no fault of the people I was working with originally, they had different expectations.

They had been in a system where they knew where their train was heading. Then when I come in prior to the draft and all of a sudden it's the middle of January and we were trying to figure out the coaching thing and there was a lot going on. Oh and also preparing for free agency. That's a small window.

With that you are trying to figure out how to work with people and they are trying to figure out how to work with you. It was really challenging. That's just the reality and it's no one's fault. Now four years later there are a group of people that know exactly what the expectations is, what the pace is, and what the level of accuracy and accountability should be, and what we are looking for.

They know that we are just not looking for good players we are looking for good players that are the right kind of people and the right kind of winners. That's the biggest difference. There's now a group of people where everyone is on the same page looking at and for the same things."

WP: I've asked this question of many people in the NFL who are in the position that you are in regards to deciding which players you select in the NFL Draft. And this year, the Chiefs are in a unique position because they've added some high quality players through free agency. So looking ahead to April's draft, do you draft college players for need, for talent or for fit?

SP: Those things change over time. We want a player that is going to contribute, going to be a good player, and also be a good guy. You can't be arrogant and judgmental and think that people aren't going to change. If I was being judged today by the way I was my junior and senior year in college I'm telling you we are not having this conversation. That's the reality.

What you try to look for are guys that are going to have enough of an ability to change and then be that example. There are some of those guys in every program. We want to draft someone that is going to contribute to the team, the talent pool, and need. Is it best player of biggest need? It's a combination of those things.

It's not just about picking a player. It's about dependability. Part of what you do with picks and contracts is you show what kind of behavior you're going to reward."

One on One: Chiefs GM Scott Pioli - Part 1

This article appears courtesy of Warpaint Illustrated the Magazine.


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