Kansas City Chiefs’ General Manager Brett Veach spoke with the media via conference call on Monday afternoon to discuss the Chiefs’ 2019 draft class.
Here are five things that stood out from the call.
1. Veach kicked things off by talking about Day #3 of the draft and the post-draft process, which includes bringing in undrafted free agents. The Chiefs will announce those moves this weekend.
“There’s a lot of chaos after the draft with these undrafted rookies, but the guys on our scouting staff did a great job and I’m certainly excited to talk about some of these guys that maybe we haven’t talked about - the last three draft picks,” Veach said. “We are really excited to get [the undrafted free agents we plan to sign] into camp and I think we have a good list of guys. I’m looking at three or four of these undrafted free agents that are going to come in here this weekend and sign, and I’m looking at these guys to have a real shot to make this team. We are excited about that, we’re excited about this draft class and it was good to see the players on the field today for the first time.”
2. He was then asked to break down each of Kansas City’s selections on Day 3, beginning with cornerback Rashad Fenton.
“We had our eye on Fenton for a long time. When we went through our draft board and put guys in different pockets, he was one of those guys we thought would be right around the [fifth to seventh-round] range and we liked him in that spot,” Veach said. “He was one of the higher guys we had there. We got there in the sixth round and the value met the need, so you can certainly stick to best player available there.”
Fenton tallied a team-leading three interceptions at the University of South Carolina in 2018 to go along with 34 tackles, six pass breakups and 2.5 tackles-for-loss. It was a strong finish to an impressive career for Fenton, who appeared in 48 games (30 starts) over the course of his four-year career in Columbia, recording 122 tackles, 24 passes defensed, five picks and a forced fumble.
“He’s a guy who is a tough kid and who is really competitive. He gets his hands on a lot of balls,” Veach said. “They used him in some different coverages and some different coverage roles there. He also played top competition there for four years at South Carolina, too. So, this won’t be too big for him. He has seen a lot of great wideouts. He is tough, he is competitive, and we think he will be in the mix to provide depth at that unit.”
3. Next, Veach talked about tailback Darwin Thompson.
“He’s a really exciting player. We had him higher on that value board and when he fell there in the sixth round, [we took him], Veach said. “Actually, when we took Fenton, I was trying to make some moves to get back up there and get [Thompson] because I didn’t want to lose him three or four selections before we picked. I called every team right after we took Fenton to go right back up and get this Thompson kid. We couldn’t reach a deal, but as we were kind of doing the review of the teams picking just ahead of us…and all these teams had taken a running back earlier in the draft, so I was like, ‘These teams went running back earlier, I think we might be OK here.’”
Luckily, the board fell the Chiefs’ way. Veach was able to stand pat and still pick Thompson with the final pick of the sixth round.
As for what he can do on the field, Thompson made his one season at Utah State count in 2018. He tallied 1,044 rushing yards and 14 scores on the ground - averaging 6.8 yards per attempt – and did his best work after first contact, shedding 48 tackles and gaining 765 yards after doing so, according to Pro Football Focus.
“He’s not the biggest guy- he’s five-foot-eight, but he’s rocked up. He’s 200 pounds and kind of looks like a body builder with his shirt off,” Veach said. “He has great contact balance…it’s really remarkable to see him always keep the ball forward and he’s always finishing runs moving forward. He’s tough and he can do some things out of the backfield. I think Coach Reid and the offensive staff are going to have a lot of fun with him.”
4. Finally, Veach discussed offensive guard / center Nick Allegretti.
“He’s a guy we think has a really good shot to not only make the team, but potentially fight for some playing time,” Veach said. “He was a guard at Illinois and then he went to the East-West Shrine game and he actually played guard and center there. His center tape was really what kind of caught our eye. You guys know how we feel about guys who have versatility, and this is a guy who played guard in the Big Ten and did a really good job.”
The six-foot-four, 320-pound Allegretti was a two-time captain at Illinois over his four-year career, earning Second-Team All-Big 10 honors from the media in 2018. He didn’t miss a start over his final three years on the team and was the No. 3 rated guard in the country by the folks at Pro Football Focus last season.
“You watch the East-West Shrine Game and watch him log game snaps at center, and he looked really good at doing that,” Veach continued. “That got us really excited. I think he scored a 42 on the Wonderlic [Test], too, so you know he will be able to come in here and catch on really quick.”
5. And now with the draft in the books, Veach detailed his thoughts on the roster headed into the next stage of the offseason.
“I think every team goes into training camp wishing they had a few more holes filled, and we’re no exception, but I think that if you look at our roster, you certainly feel good about a lot of different areas,” Veach said. “There are some things that we want to get done, and hopefully, we will get done, but I think when you talk about football and you talk about how the game is won up front and with the quarterback, when we bring this squad to [St. Joseph], we’ll be bringing the reigning MVP up there and we’ll be adding that with the defensive line that we’re talking about.”
The Chiefs have made several additions along the defensive line this offseason, adding edge rusher Frank Clark via trade, defensive ends Emmanuel Ogbah and Alex Okafor through free agency and defensive tackle Khalen Saunders on Day #2 of the draft. Those players will join the likes of defensive tackles Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi and Xavier Williams to form a pretty formidable group.
“Listen, these guys have to go out there and they have to develop chemistry, and it’s a new coaching staff and they’ve got to do it,” Veach said. “But, from a numbers standpoint and from a sheer talent standpoint in regard to what these guys have done or what they project to do, I think when you go up to St. Joe with those two things - the league MVP and a talented, deep defensive line - you feel good about that.”
And, as always, Veach stressed that the process of building the roster is never complete.
“Some of the areas that we’re not as comfortable with, we’re going to continue to work on them, but we’re going to be in the mix here,” Veach said. “We have a great coaching staff, we have a great personnel staff and we have an extremely talented roster. We have to get better, but we’re going to be in the mix.”