Preparation for the NFL Draft is an endlessly arduous process, Chiefs general manager John Dorsey will tell you, albeit one he revels in.
If you accept literally the results of a study he said he commissioned, he and his staff will have put in about 60,000 hours toward the cause by the time the draft begins Thursday.
When asked how many of those hours represent his own contribution, Dorsey smiled and simply said, “Enough.”
From all this sleuthing, the Chiefs have derived a draft board of 150 to 170 players to consider for the 10 selections they have amassed — some of which could serve as trade fodder.
Most of the pre-draft focus is on their first-round choice — No. 27 overall, barring a trade — and to what extent they will invest in a quarterback with Alex Smith locked up only for the next two seasons.
But there is another crucial area to watch for one year after the Chiefs used their fifth-round pick to choose Tyreek Hill, who just months before had pleaded guilty to domestic abuse by strangulation of his then-pregnant girlfriend.
Because there is tantalizing-but-controversial talent out there, including Oklahoma’s Joe Mixon and Dede Westbrook.
So let’s dream that a few of the 60,000 hours were spent analyzing the troubling statement the Chiefs would be making by venturing into similar terrain again.
As seen in a sickening video made public in December, Mixon punched a woman in 2014, was suspended from the Oklahoma football team for that season and served a year of probation after a plea agreement. Westbrook was twice arrested on family violence complaints while in high school but never convicted.
Mixon was not invited to the NFL Combine, and, according to NFL.com earlier this week, Mixon reportedly is off the draft board of at least six NFL teams.
The Chiefs could be one of those who’ve ruled him out.
Dorsey didn’t say as much in his news conference on Friday, but it would be highly unusual for a GM to say something like that publicly.
But Hill’s exhilarating success on the field, and by all accounts his fine behavior off it since arriving in Kansas City, could embolden them to push their luck with another player linked to violence against women.
For that matter, so could the legal settlement and joint statement issued Friday by Mixon and his victim, Amelia Molitor.
For his part, Mixon said he had apologized one-on-one to her, that the way he acted that night “wasn’t me” and that “talking together helps us move past what happened.”
Added Molitor: “I am satisfied that we are going to put this behind us and work towards helping others who may have found themselves in similar circumstances. I greatly appreciate his apology, and I think the feelings he expressed were sincere. We both could have handled things differently. I believe if we had a chance to go back to that moment in time, the situation would not have ended the way it did.”
If it all sounds a bit robotic and seems magically timed, well, it’s also hard to know what’s behind it all.
But here’s the thing:
If Dorsey and his staff believe in their “case-by-case” studies that a player who can help them “will not only fit into that locker room but also into the community,” they conceivably could take just such a risk again.
Even with the best of instincts and intentions, which I believe Dorsey to eat, sleep and breathe, this is a thorny path.
Even for those of us who believe in redemption, it’s a vague line between playing Father Flanagan and ushering in trouble — a line coaches and football personnel people can have trouble distinguishing.
“When I try to sit and talk to people, I want to see, ‘Are they a good person?’” Dorsey said. “My faith says, ‘Look into every man’s soul and see if he truly has a blessed soul.’
“And that’s kind of how I look at things.”
Dorsey has earned the benefit of the doubt in many ways, including so far on Hill — whose name fans came to chant before punt returns last season despite the initial outcry.
But Dorsey isn’t infallible, and there are other lines to be negotiated, too.
Like the ones between a strong locker room culture and one that tries to absorb more than it should.
Like the one between the values the Chiefs say they stand for and their actions.
Like what the community really means in their decisions.
The Chiefs made a disconcerting reach to draft Hill — at least in part because no NFL team should stand against domestic violence more in the wake of Jovan Belcher’s murder of Kasandra Perkins and subsequent suicide in 2012.
But once Hill was drafted, the best-case scenario was to root for his redemption and hope he can come to stand for the virtue of what most of us need in life: another chance.
What’s happened since he was drafted largely has validated the decision … so far.
“After that extensive research we’d done with Tyreek, yes, we thought he was a perfect fit for the Chiefs …,” Dorsey said. “And he is exactly who I thought he would be as a person.”
Even so, we may not know for years how this plays out. And there always will be the matter of what it means for domestic violence victims to see him playing for their team.
And one of these cases seems like plenty for the Chiefs to work with.
One of these cases seems like enough to be reconciled by Chiefs fans, whose loyalty ought not to be challenged with another player whose past they’re left to try to rationalize.
As the 60,000 hours wind down, Dorsey, coach Andy Reid, other decision-makers and scouts will meet Tuesday to methodically go over their final board.
They will discuss everything applicable about all prospective draft picks, Dorsey said, so that by draft time “it’s factual; it’s not emotional.”
Then, at the end of the day, “You let that board kind of talk to you.”
Here’s hoping they hear it say that there are many “best players available” who don’t have divisive pasts.