Kansas City Chiefs' General Manager Brett Veach spoke with the media via web call on Thursday in anticipation of the 2020 NFL Draft, which begins on April 23.
Here are five things that stood out from the call.
1. Veach explained the unique nature of this year's virtual draft and how the organization is handling the preparation process.
"I think it's kind of been an evolution. When we got wind of an all virtual draft, I think there were a lot of questions on how things were going to run, but quite honestly, the last two or three weeks, everything has been virtual. Our ability to communicate with players, coaches, go through stats and go through certain situations throughout the draft, it's almost becoming commonplace now where we just wake up, come down and we have the ability to record all of the players that we interview," Veach said. "So, there are a lot of times where I'm jumping on these chats live and interacting and there are a lot of times where I'm working through some video and I'm working through some other stuff where I can come back in the morning and just click on yesterday's videos and watch that. There are certainly unique challenges, but those challenges are the same for all 32 teams and I think we're prepared. And again, it's almost the norm right now."
The draft kicks off on Thursday, April 23 at 7 p.m. CT and continues over the following two days. The Chiefs currently hold the following selections in this year's draft:
No. 32 (Round 1)
No. 63 (Round 2)
No. 96 (Round 3)
No. 138 (Round 4)
No. 177 (Round 5)
2. A lot can happen between the first and 32nd pick in the draft. Veach described the Chiefs' strategy when it comes to the first round.
"I think, obviously, it's good to have the 32nd pick in the draft knowing that you're Super Bowl champs, but when you're sitting at No. 32 - we all look at the mock drafts and we all do our own mock drafts - and the only issue with that is there are just so many variables," Veach explained. "There are always a couple twists and turns in the draft and the further down you are, there are going to be more twists and turns and by the time you get down to 32, as opposed to 10 - if you're sitting there at 10 there's only so many things that could happen that are out of left field - but by the time you get to 32, there could be two or three scenarios. Not that we wouldn't anticipate that, because I feel like over the last three or four days we went through every scenario possible."
Veach went on to describe the organization's team-building philosophy as it relates to this year's draft and beyond.
"There are certain positions where we feel pretty good in the first two or three rounds and there are certain positions that aren't as deep, but I think you guys have kind of seen our approach with free agency and just being able to always stick to the best player available philosophy. We're trying to build this thing out not just for next year, but for the next 5-10 years," Veach said. "So, to sit here and say a certain position isn't in need, we don't really look at it like that because we're looking at the rosters two or three years from now and knowing these guys will be under five-year contracts or four-year contracts if drafted after the first. We're just looking to add high level talent and stick to that best player available philosophy."
3. Veach later went on to explain the logistics of how the virtual draft will work organizationally.
This is uncharted territory for every team in the league, but Veach and his staff feel comfortable with the plan they have in place.
"Everyone's going to be at their homes per the letter from the league. We're all set up. Coach will be at his house. Myself and our directors will be at [our respective] homes and working [from there]…Every person is allowed a security person and an IT person, and everyone else will be at home. We'll have monitors and some will be allocated for [Chairman & CEO] Clark [Hunt], Andy [Reid] and myself, then other monitors will be for our personnel staff. I have a guy, [Assistant Director of Player Personnel] Ryan Poles, who has done a tremendous job at taking the lead on this. He's been able to kind of control who comes in and who comes out of the room, so if I say, 'Ryan, grab me [Vice President of Sports Medicine and Performance] Rick [Burkholder],' he can bring Rick into a chatroom. If I say, 'Ryan, grab me an area scout,' he could bring one in," Veach explained. "The things that I want to maintain are just that ability. I don't want to be sitting there pulling people into the draft rooms and calling people. I think we have a plan where we have a computer dedicated to Clark, [President] Mark [Donovan] and Andy and we can talk through some big-picture stuff. Then Ryan Poles has the ability to bring in coordinators, bring in coaches and bring in medical very quickly. So, I think we have a plan. I think it's going to be smooth, and we're excited about it."
4. With the virtual nature of the draft in mind, Veach was also asked how the team and the league are approaching Phase I of the offseason, which consists of strength and conditioning activities.
"We have a lot of stuff going on here, but Phase I believe starts on Monday, which is a virtual Phase I. That will go on for three weeks and then from there we will be in contact with the league and defer to their guidance," Veach said. It is a fluid process here and we're all aware that some of the stuff can change, but from the dialogue I've had with coach and our executives, it's that we have a virtual Phase I starting and it will be there in place for our players to log on and go through their video chat sessions with their coaches for the next three weeks. Then we'll be in constant contact with the league and work off of that format."
5. Lastly, Veach went over the Chiefs' offseason free agent signings and explained why the franchise elected to add each new player to the squad.
He began with cornerback Antonio Hamilton, who is known largely for his elite special teams’ play but also displayed potential on defense when given the opportunity last season in New York.
"Every year at the cut-down day, Director of Pro Personnel Tim Terry and Director of Football Operations Mike Borgonzi do a great job of really identifying young guys that we think are developmental talent guys, and at the trade/cut-down day last year, we identified [cornerback] Alex Brown and Antonio Hamilton as two guys that we thought we'd like to add if not to our active roster, to our practice squad," Veach said. "Hamilton ended up making [the Giants] but we were able to get Brown on the practice squad, and Alex did a good job for us and was active late in the season for our Super Bowl run. So, Antonio was a guy - he was on the bubble and he made the team - but we monitored him throughout the season in case they had a roster crunch where they had to cut him. They never did, but we certainly kept that in our back pocket for free agency, and when the window for negotiation opened up, if we liked him back then and we wanted to add him back then, we may be able to do it now, and it makes sense for him and for us. We're excited about him."
Veach went on to explain the importance of depth at cornerback and how the addition of Hamilton enhances the Chiefs' depth at the position before moving on to offensive lineman Mike Remmers, who has logged at least 800 snaps in each of the last five seasons.
"Remmers was a guy that when you're looking at veteran offensive linemen - depth, versatility, experience – and you know, [former offensive lineman Stefen] Wisniewski had the chance to go home to PA and play in Pittsburgh, but this was a very comparable player," Veach said. "He has a little different versatility where Wisniewski was more of a center-guard and Remmers gives you more of a tackle-guard. [Also with offensive lineman] Cam [Erving] not being on the roster, now we have a guy that is experienced and gives us a little bit different versatility in regard to tackle and guard. He has played a lot of football, he's smart and tough and we think he'll fit right in. We're excited about him."
Veach then spoke about tight end Ricky Seals-Jones, a three-year veteran who caught 14 passes for 229 yards and four touchdowns last season while suiting up for the Cleveland Browns.
"When you look at Ricky Seals-Jones, it was a similar scenario to when we went through the [former tight end] Blake Bell signing last year. We were looking for a young guy with some upside that had a good receiving skillset," Veach said. "[Tight Ends Coach] Tom Melvin did a great job working with Blake, and we actually feel that at this stage in his career that Ricky may be a little ahead of the curve in regard to the pass game. So, we're excited to work with a young guy with a receiving skillset [who can be] a nice complement to [tight end] Travis [Kelce]."
Veach wrapped things up with his thoughts on tailback DeAndre Washington, who spent the last four seasons with the Oakland Raiders. A versatile player out of the backfield, Washington racked up just under 700 yards from scrimmage in 2019.
"That one just kind of worked out where the more patient you are, sometimes people fall back to you. DeAndre Washington was a guy we liked coming out [in 2016]. We were being cognizant of our cap and making sure we had enough flexibility to do things we wanted to do, but with running backs, [if you look at] that position last year, [tailback] Damien Williams was hurt early in the season, then [tailback LeSean] McCoy got nicked up, then [tailback] Darrel Williams had his hamstring [injury], then we signed [tailback] Spencer Ware and he got hurt. We had four running backs get hurt last year, so you can never have enough of those guys that have talent and experience," Veach said. "The fact that he played with Pat [Mahomes] obviously didn't hurt, but he's a guy that can run and catch, he's smart and he's great worker. Again, just that experience we went through last year losing so many guys, we had an opportunity to add a player that is proven in this league and we jumped at that opportunity."
Each of those players will have a shot at helping Kansas City defend their championship in 2020. In the meantime, catch the NFL Draft beginning on Thursday, April 23 at 7 p.m. CT.