Kansas City Chiefs’ General Manager Brett Veach met with the media on Thursday morning ahead of the NFL Draft next week.
Here are five things that stood out from his presser.
1. With the draft right around the corner, Veach took a moment to recognize the Chiefs' scouts - who work tirelessly to discover the best prospects in the nation and are a huge part of the draft preparation process.
“Those guys do an amazing job, and it really starts right after the draft. A few weeks after the draft, we get our lists for next season,” Veach explained. “These guys are watching seniors to-be. We’ll usually give them a list of 60-70 players to look at once they leave here, and when they come back for the mandatory OTAs, they get a chance to see the new guys. They’ll keep working through that original 70-man list before coming to training camp and getting a quick splash of where we are with our roster, but then they’re on the road and they’re hitting schools sometimes three or four times a year. They’re meeting with coaches, they’re getting information and they’re logging play history before coming back here and meeting for 17 days, then they’re going to the Combine, pro days and all-star games.”
It’s the definition of a grind, but it’s vital work that comes to fruition on the field.
"They’re on the road for a full year, and they give up a lot and sacrifice a lot. They’re just a great group and they’re really talented. I’ve had the good fortune of working with them since I’ve been here, and really all of these guys, I’ve worked with my entire career. They’re like a family – I see these guys more than I do my own family.”
2. Veach also talked about the energy on the coaching staff – especially with all the new faces on the defensive side of things – heading into the draft.
“It’s exciting. I think the new staff that we have on the defensive side brings a lot of energy and a lot of juice. It’s been a fun process for us,” Veach said. “Coach [Andy] Reid has been great. This time of year, they’re diving into scheme stuff and trying to draw up more plays for [quarterback Patrick Mahomes] and the offense – it’s tough to pry those guys away – but he’s been great. Then [new Defensive Coordinator] Steve [Spagnuolo] has just been awesome to work with. There’s a great dialogue there. We’re showing him the players and the attributes that we like and we’re trying to marry that up with the scheme. It’s been a great process.”
3. Speaking of the draft, Veach was asked to discuss the current state of the roster and how that affects the Chiefs’ selection strategy.
“I feel good about the roster. Certainly - we didn’t win the Super Bowl – so we can get better, I think all across the board,” Veach said. “There’s talent that we can acquire and we can add depth on both sides of the ball. I think that’s what makes it fun and exciting – I don’t think we’re going in there [with one position in mind]. Obviously, there are some specific areas that may be more apparent [with a need], but I think the things that you do in free agency kind of protect you in the draft so that you don’t have to take a player that you feel is a second or third-round value in the first round.”
Veach went on to describe how the Chiefs applied that very strategy this offseason.
“Maybe some moves are big, like the Honey Badger [safety Tyrann Mathieu], and there are some smaller moves, but I think what you do is you protect yourself. That’s one of the key elements of free agency – they don’t have to all be big-name splashes, but you can get guys like [cornerback] Bashaud Breeland or [linebacker] Damien Wilson to protect yourself from over-drafting players. I feel like this year, with the exception of quarterback, I think anything is on the table in the first round.”
Kansas City has acquired 14 new players this offseason (in addition to 15 reserve/future deals), with nine of those moves coming on the defensive side of the ball.
4. Veach went on to talk about the “pockets” of position groups that he sees in this year’s draft, providing a glimpse into the depth available up and down the board.
“I think the offensive and defensive lines are pretty strong. I think you’re going to see a lot of defensive linemen off the board early in the first round,” Veach said. “Certainly, the quarterbacks that have been talked about will probably go, and then there’s a really strong pocket of defensive linemen and tackles. There are four of five tackles that will go pretty early. There’s some depth in the second, third and fourth-round at wide out and tight end – which would be helpful for us. I think the cornerback class is strong – it might not have that top-10 guy that you see every year – but it’s deep in rounds one, two and three. I think the linebacker and safety class is a little thin, if I’m being honest, but I think everywhere else there is some really good depth.”
5. Finally, Veach explained what he’s learned about draft-strategy while on the job so far now with a full season as General Manager under his belt – especially after not having a first-round pick last year and watching the initial round play out from afar.
“You are going to learn stuff every year. Every draft is different because of the talent pool. Some years - it all depends on how it is skewed - but some years, you may have a ton of corners, or like this year, you have a ton of defensive linemen. But I think every year it’s important to just go through the process,” Veach said. “You learn every year, but I think [what's important is] just where you need to be and how aggressive or how passive you need to be. I think for me, it’s just learning how to be passive more so than being aggressive, because I’m kind of wired to go up and get a guy. I think I learn something every year. That was tough not having a first-round pick [last year] and then you don’t pick until late in the second. It was almost like we entered last year with a third-round pick. These names go off the board and you get a little impatient. It will be a little bit different this year having some picks to work with.”
We’ll have a chance to see what Veach does with those picks in just a few more days.