Kansas City Chiefs’ General Manager Brett Veach met with the media on Friday night following the second and third rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft to discuss Kansas City’s selections.
The Chiefs made three picks on the night, drafting wide receiver Mecole Hardman, defensive back Juan Thornhill and defensive tackle Khalen Saunders.
Here’s some more information on each of those players:
Here are five things that stood out from Veach’s presser.
1. Veach was first asked about Hardman, who Kansas City moved up in the second round to select out of the University of Georgia.
“It was funny, because we had a lot of action and a lot of phone calls at No. 61. We were looking at the board and, again, you’re never going to pass up speed. When you looked at the wideouts, there were still a lot of good wideouts left, but none that ran a 4.27 [40-yard dash],” Veach explained. “We were approached for a 5th round pick - I think it was the Rams - a small move. The teams that were picking before us, we didn’t think that they would go wideout, but I thought there were a few teams that might want to trade up and get in because we had taken a lot of calls.”
It turns out that hunch was right, as Veach went on to explain.
“We ended up making the move, and then we came back at No. 63 and called those teams back that were calling us at No. 61, and they said they weren’t interested in trading anymore,” Veach said. “I think we kind of played those cards right. Scouts talk and sure enough, those teams said they were looking at Hardman, too. I think we made the right calculated guess there. You kind of see how the board’s falling and how those wideouts are falling.”
2. In addition to his efforts on offense, Hardman is also a skilled return-man. It’s no surprise then that Special Teams Coordinator Dave Toub was apparently pretty excited about the selection.
“Dave had the biggest smile in the room,” Veach said. “There were a few returners that we had Dave go out [and look at], which we do every year. He came back and he said Mecole was the closest thing to Devin Hester that he’s seen in a long time. He was ecstatic. He is by far the best punt and kick returner in the draft and, again, it’s hard to turn down that kind of speed. When you have a quarterback like Pat Mahomes, you want to give him as many weapons as possible.”
3. The Chiefs made Thornhill – a dynamic safety out of the University of Virginia – their second pick of the night at No. 63. Here’s what Veach had to say about the selection.
“Juan is very versatile. He can do a lot of different things for you,” Veach explained. “We have some really good safeties, but these guys that we have, I think the knack that they have is kind of down low. The Honey Badger [Tyrann Mathieu] kind of said in his press conference that he feels like Superman the closer he is to the football. Armani Watts has a lot of those traits and Dan [Sorensen] is a guy that played down a lot. [Jordan] Lucas is a guy that has some range back there, but I think Juan gives you a true free safety - a center fielder - and he has tremendous ball skills and range on the back end. I think this really gives you a free safety with playmaking skills back there that can take the football away, but he can also slide down and cover some in the slot. I think he’ll be a really good cover piece against some athletic tight ends that we’ll see throughout the course of our season.”
4. Thornhill put on a show at the NFL Scouting Combine earlier this year, tallying the top vertical and broad jumps of any player. Veach was asked about that unique athleticism and how that will help the defensive back in Kansas City.
“I think you guys saw the basketball highlights of him. He is just a natural athlete,” Veach said. “But he has great eyes and great vision back there, [plus] a natural knack to take the football away. He sees things develop quickly. He is able to quickly read and react. Aside from that, this is a guy that played corner his first two years and then they kind of moved him all over the field. So, there was a lot on his plate at Virginia. I think he is a great addition. We have numbers at our safety position, but there aren’t a lot of pure free safeties that can come down and cover like Juan can. I just think the ability to move him around the field was something that was really attractive. He was another guy, too, that where we got him at pick No. 63, I don’t think a lot of us - before the night started - would have thought he would have been there. He was a guy that probably fell a little bit lower than we thought, too.”
5. And the draft isn’t over, as there are still four more rounds to go. Veach discussed Kansas City’s strategy heading into Day #3.
Here’s a look at which picks Kansas City currently holds heading into Day #3:
- Sixth-Round: No. 201 overall
- Sixth-Round: No. 214 overall
- Seventh-Round: No. 216 overall
“Every year, there are a lot of late-round picks and free agents that make your team,” Veach said. “The fourth round will be a little slow for us, but we will just monitor the board and we will continue to track the guys we like. This is a unique time in the draft, because once you get into the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds, teams’ boards across the league vary in regard to some guys being picked in the fifth round that we have as free agents and some guys we pick in the fifth round, they will have as free agents. Just when you think, ‘Well, you don’t pick 'till the sixth round,’ there will be a guy that we have on our board late in the fourth or early in the fifth that will be there. The fourth round will be slow, but once we get into the early to mid-fifth round, I think our attention will start to perk up a little and we will get excited again.”