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Five Things We Learned from GM Brett Veach's Pre-Draft Press Conference

Veach spoke with the media on Thursday

Kansas City Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach met with members of the media on Thursday in anticipation of the 2023 NFL Draft kicking off next week.

Here are five things that stood out from the press conference.

1. Veach spoke about some of the Chiefs' major moves in free agency and explained his reasoning behind the signings.

Veach began by speaking about offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, who signed with the Chiefs after spending the last four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"[He's] a guy that we liked from his days in college at Florida. [He's] a really, really athletic player. As we all know, he played right tackle at Florida, predominantly. He had some snaps at left tackle, but he played right tackle in the NFL," Veach said. "He's a guy athletically – I mean he's long, he has quick feet, he's a really, really efficient pass protector – and I think it wasn't a secret that once free agency started, a tackle was at the top of [our] list. I think we have great flexibility with him. He certainly wants the opportunity to play left [tackle], but if we were to draft a left tackle, we know what Jawaan's tape looks like at right tackle, so [we were] excited to get him."

Next, Veach explained the Chiefs' decision to sign defensive end Charles Omenihu away from the San Francisco 49ers.

"I think Charles was a guy that really made a lot of sense for us. He can play a lot of base [defensive] end on early run downs, but I think the thing that really appealed to us was his inside pass rush ability," Veach said. "He's long, he's athletic and again, we just feel like pairing him with [defensive tackle] Chris Jones inside on third down is something that will be really beneficial for us."

Sticking with the defense, Veach also spoke about safety Mike Edwards, who joins the Chiefs after four seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"He was a guy that we actually have a lot of familiarity with. A couple of years ago, when [former Linebackers Coach and current LSU Defensive Coordinator] Matt House was here, we brought him in from Kentucky. [House] was [previously the defensive coordinator] at Kentucky, and he coached Mike Edwards," Veach explained. "Once we started this free agency process, we talked to Matt [about] the scheme fit here, and even though [Defensive Coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] doesn't run exactly what Matt did at Kentucky, there's a lot of carry over. From an X's and O's standpoint, that [signing] just fit the bill with [former] Juan [Thornhill] leaving here, [and] we wanted a third safety. It made a lot of sense."

Next, Veach touched on linebacker Drue Tranquill, who previously played for the Los Angeles Chargers.

"Sometimes it's just really good value…I don't know if we went into free agency saying linebacker was a super high priority…But then as free agency goes, there's always some guys that for some reason they're just out there, and they're really good players," Veach said. "We were made aware that Tranquill was still out there, and having had a lot of experience playing against him, [we] knew how good he is. [He's] a guy that can play all three [linebacker] positions…[He's] a great blitzer, [and] great in pass coverage."

Lastly, Veach spoke about wide receiver Richie James, who comes to Kansas City after a breakout campaign with the New York Giants in 2022.

"[He's] a versatile player – you can move him around a lot…Actually, I think a few years ago, there was a trade deadline period when he was with the [San Francisco 49ers], and I think we tried to trade for him," Veach said. "I've always liked the player. I think he's a very versatile guy, and he also does punt returns, too, so he can take some pressure off of [wide receiver Kadarius Toney], [wide receiver] Skyy [Moore] or whoever is back there. Just having another guy is something that we think is a plus."

2. Veach went on to address the current situation at right tackle as the Chiefs approach draft weekend.

Outside of Jawaan Taylor, the Chiefs currently have three players who are primarily offensive tackles under contract: Lucas Niang, Prince Tega Wanogho and Darian Kinnard. Veach took some time to speak about all three players on Thursday.

"We have a lot of hopes for Lucas. He was a guy that actually won that starting right tackle position [in 2021], and then he got hurt. It's been a little bit of an uphill battle," Veach said. "He had a pretty bad injury there, but he has worked phenomenally to get in shape. [Vice President of Sports Medicine and Performance] Rick [Burkholder] and his staff have done a great job of continuing to get him in the right position to go out there and be productive."

Niang suffered a knee injury late in the 2021 campaign but managed to return to the field for seven games in 2022. He'll certainly be in the mix for the starting right tackle spot throughout the offseason training program while competing with Tega Wanogho and Kinnard, who Veach went on to speak about.

"Prince is a guy that has always kind of steadily grown every year that he's been here," Veach said. "[As for Kinnard], I'm excited for him, and I think he'll have a chance to play some tackle. We certainly think he has flexibility, and he may end up ultimately being a better guard. He's played right tackle in the past, and he was a guy that struggled a little early on, but I think toward the end of training camp there and throughout the season, he grew rapidly over the last few months. I know [Offensive Line] Coach [Andy] Heck is really excited for where he is, and again, I think he's a guy that has [positional] flexibility. He'll probably get reps at both guard and tackle there. Between those three guys, we have three solid guys that can go in there and compete, and I'm sure we'll look to continue to add depth all across the offensive line."

3. Veach also spoke about wide receiver Kadarius Toney, who is entering his first full season with the Chiefs after joining Kansas City mid-season in 2022.

Toney caught 14 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns in seven games with Kansas City last season before playing a pivotal role in Super Bowl LVII, where he tallied a 65-yard punt return and a 5-yard touchdown reception. He'll now have an opportunity to build on that performance with a full offseason in the Chiefs' training program.

"He's really good. He can do anything. He has predominately been a guy that is a slot receiver, returner, runner and gadget guy, but I don't know if there is a limit on his game because he has a vertical game," Veach explained. "I mean, this kid is really smart and we were surprised with how quickly he picked up [the offense last year]…He picked that stuff up really easily. We have a lot of high hopes for him. He was a first-round pick for a reason. There's a reason why we traded for him, and we felt like he was first-round talent. I think if he stays healthy and continues to [build] that chemistry with the coaching staff and with [quarterback Patrick Mahomes], which I think he is doing a great job of doing, I think the sky is the limit for him."

4. Sticking with offensive playmakers, Veach was asked about the possibility of re-signing tailback Jerick McKinnon, who is currently a free agent.

"Yeah, I think there have been some talks with Jerick. He's certainly a guy that we love and greatly admire," Veach said. "I think this follows a similar trajectory as last year where I think Jerick just likes to take his time and make sure that he's ready to go both physically and mentally. I think the timeline last year was right after the draft where we were able to get with him. Once we get past next weekend, I think we'll double up with a lot of these guys that might still have a chance to be on this roster."

McKinnon tallied 803 total yards and 10 touchdowns from scrimmage last season, which included 512 receiving yards and nine receiving scores as a weapon out of the backfield in the passing game.

5. Lastly, Veach spoke about the current state of the Chiefs' wide receiver corps as a whole heading into the draft.

Kansas City currently has 10 wide receivers under contract entering draft weekend, with those being (in no particular order) Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Skyy Moore, Justin Watson, Kadarius Toney, Richie James, Justyn Ross, John Ross, Ihmir Smith-Marsette, Cornell Powell and Ty Fryfogle.

Here's what Veach had to say about the Chiefs' current group and what the team may do moving forward:

"I think that you always are looking to get more talent and get deeper. There's a lot of players that we like," Veach said. "Certainly, MVS, Skyy [and] Toney. [We] brought Justin Watson back [and signed] Richie James. So, we have really good players, and we can certainly go out there and line up and win games, but I'd say the same [thing] about the offensive line, the defensive line and the receiver position. We're always looking to get deeper, more athletic and more talented. I mean, we're happy with the guys that we have, but like every team in this draft, we can find ways to make our team better."

The 2023 NFL Draft kicks off in Kansas City on Thursday night and runs through Saturday.

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