General Manager Brett Veach
Q:Looking at the 53 guys that are left – is that a good enough roster to get you where you want to go?
VEACH:"Yeah, we're excited about the roster. We think we have a lot of talent and we think the roster we've been able to compile the past four years is definitely good enough to get to where we need to go. For sure we'll have an opportunity to make some more changes as we go along, but we're certainly excited about this team."
Q: What about (Reggie) Ragland and Cameron Erving, what did you like about those two guys?
VEACH: "I think when I spoke to BJ a few days ago, I mentioned to him we're always talking about building through the draft and how important picks are, and they are. But you have to look at every situation that comes across your desk and I think anytime that you have the opportunity to acquire young players who are still under rookie deals and have multiple years left in those rookie deals, and in addition we also took a liking to those players during the draft process. I think you review and analyze those situations. In the case of Reggie (Ragland), he was a guy that obviously we liked coming out, he definitely provides a physical aspect to his game. Plays with a great passion, with a great motor. And then with Cam (Erving) he's a guy that provides a great versatility and you know as the season goes on you're always looking for guys to fill in different positions and he's certainly a tremendous athlete. And we feel we'll have the ability to correct some technical stuff with his game and he'll be able to contribute as well."
Q: Why didn't C.J. Spiller make the team?
VEACH: "I actually had the chance to talk to C.J. today and as you know C.J., being a veteran in this league, is not subject to waivers and there's a possibility that C.J. may end up on our roster. Again, we've had that conversation. We'll continue to monitor the situation around the league and see what's out there, what's available. So there's certainly a likely scenario where C.J. is on our team."
Q: Everybody knows what Alex Smith has done for the Chiefs over the years and how steady and how experienced he is and how many games he's won, but it's also pretty obvious your rookie quarterback has a lot of skill and has a lot of upside in the passing game – so what is it about Alex, why are you guys staying with him as your starter right now as opposed to (Patrick) Mahomes?
VEACH: "Coach made a statement a few days back, there's no gray area. Alex (Smith) is our quarterback. Alex is so far advanced from the mental side of things in regards to his ability to read coverages, to shift to better plays and really play the chess game. He's so far ahead of what Pat (Mahomes) is. I don't think it's even close right now. But going back to Pat, the development he has made and the strides he has taken in those departments has exceeded our expectations to this point. So we're excited where we are and again the longer that Alex and Pat are together, the better we will be."
Q: Wanted to ask you about a couple position groups and how you feel about these. One is cornerback and one is wide receiver.
VEACH: "The cornerback position, it's hard to find a team in the league that isn't looking for more corners. You can't have enough of those at that position. We're happy with the group we have, especially being led by one of the best in the game in Marcus Peters. But all of our guys have progressed and made improvements – I think you saw that from Phillip Gaines this offseason, I think we were all excited about his rookie year and then he had the knee. But him coming back this year and really putting out some good tape, we're excited about that. We're excited about where we are at that position. But with the cornerback position, at all these positions, if we can add someone that can make us better we'll do that."
Q: What about wide receiver?
VEACH:"With the wide-outs, you're looking at a core that's still young. But these guys are versatile in regards of, you look at Tyreek (Hill) and his ability to stretch the field, but also everyone knows what he can do in the return game. You've seen what De'Anthony (Thomas) can do. But I think as we go along here, De'Anthony will have a bigger role in the offense. Then (Jehu) Chesson, how he's played on (special) teams and in the past the way that Demarcus (Robinson) has played on teams, I think all these guys are showing the ability to make plays, but also will be able to help us on special teams which is a big deal for us."
Q: Was it close at all with Tamba (Hali), or was he going to be PUP all the way?
VEACH: "We have a plan for him. We've had the opportunity to talk to Tamba (Hali), his agent and Rick (Burkholder), so it's one of those situations where we'll always monitor it and see where we are. I know that Rick Burkholder will be able to address Tamba's situation and Spencer Ware's tomorrow, so he'll be able to give you a little more information in regards to where Tamba is exactly."
Q: Back to Patrick (Mahomes) – were you surprised at all at with what you saw improvement wise and the things he did, or is he just progressing the way you figured he would?
VEACH: "I think he's progressing – I think you look, obviously a lot was made by the offense he ran and this and that. You never quite know exactly, because you can look at different quarterbacks and say that they played at an earlier stage and why can't he do it. Every offense is different, the verbiage is different, what they ask of the quarterback is different. Coach Reid demands a ton at that position, so I would say he's ahead of where we thought he would be given the fact that he didn't have a lot of calls, checks and id's from the college game. We knew he was smart and we knew he would pick it up. But I would say he's ahead of where he is, but there's still obviously a lot for him to learn. But just like you guys, we're all excited. When the time comes, he'll be ready to rock and roll."
Q: With two running backs on the roster is that an area of concern for you or is that something that you would like to take a look at before the New England game?
VEACH: "We'll look at that. I can't tell you exactly what we're going to do, but the odds are likely we'll have three running backs. Obviously all of the names are starting to trickle through right now and we'll look through them and we'll evaluate the situation, but there's a very good chance there will be three running backs on our roster."
Q: I've seen some people around the league have kind of predicted that they think there's going to be a league-record number of waiver claims tomorrow. Do you agree with that sentiment and if so why?
VEACH: "Well there's a lot more names to choose from for sure and it's hard to say. Every team will be different and the injuries play a roll, the salary cap plays a roll so not knowing exactly those situations with each team, because I really don't know the injury status of some of these players if they have to hold onto them for a week or two sometimes they roll the dice and do that. If it's going to be a longer injury sometimes they go in a different direction and settle with them. So it's hard to accurately say. My first guess would be just because of the sheer numbers that's likely, but I guess we'll find out soon here."
Q: For you just because there's so many names you have to have evals on all those guys and rank them and stack them. How does your process change this year figuring out the next thing going from this day to the next day now?
VEACH: "The great thing is we have a great personnel staff and we've been together for the last four years. Tim Terry's new, but being from Green Bay we all kind of came from the same system in how we do things and our protocols, so I have a tremendous amount of faith in these guys and they do a great job of expediting the information to me. I think we operate at a high efficiency level here. The process is always the same, when training camp starts we immediately establish communications with all teams across the NFL and we express to them where we think we're deep and where we can get better and they express to us where they think they're deep and where they can get better. Then you just look for natural trading partners during the course of this thing and if you can execute a trade you do, but those teams that we don't execute a trade with, if we still feel they have depth in the areas we're looking for we monitor those teams more closely. But at the end of the day there's a lot of names and our guys have been stacking and ranking these names on kind of a projected bubble. So during this whole time we've had names on our board at every position. Some we've had likely to make the roster, some we've had bubble on the roster and some we've had won't make the roster. That thing has been fluid, the board has been fluid and we've made changes as guys have been hurt or have been traded. This whole time we've had kind of a running list of what we thought would be out there and we're making the changes for some of the guys that did stick that we didn't think would stick and so on and so forth. There's going to be more names that we actually have to work through tonight, but the process for the most part stays the same."
Q:You mentioned at the Kickoff Luncheon last week that you didn't think that you would be as active in the waiver wire. Do you still feel that way? Are these trades reflecting that waiver wire activity for you since you're so low on the priority list?
VEACH: "That's a good point. I think when you have an opportunity to make moves it does work in conjunction with where you are on the waiver wire. So if we did want to acquire a swing tackle or a MIKE linebacker, I'm not saying they'd be those guys because you couldn't get those guys on the wires, but if you did want to acquire a player at that position there's two things that have to work in your favor. You have to find guys that really fit that role, swing tackles are very very hard to find. (Bryan) Witzmann was a unique situation last year and as you guys know we were the only team to put a claim in for him, and that was because he had two years that just were different than what he put on that year in Dallas. But for the most part trying to find swing depth-level offensive lineman is very difficult, especially when you're picking 27 and the same thing with a MIKE who you feel could be a starting linebacker at some point. It absolutely does play a role trying to predict who you want and can you get him. I think you're right in the fact that you need be proactive and if you really want to make changes that you feel are upgrades then you have to really look at your options and weigh them out and at the end of the day make the decisions that are best for the team."
Q:You spoke about going through all of the names of the players that are going to be released. Can you tell us what the process is going to be like for you and your staff for the rest of today and into tomorrow morning?
VEACH: "Right now obviously we have 53 on our roster and as the names are coming through as we're speaking right now, and most of these names are on the board, so we have all of the names that are cut and they're turned a certain way and then from there they have boards. We'll have our ranking boards, so they'll go under by position top to bottom and we'll just note the guys, the age, the durability, what we had on them in college and then we'll just kind of separate them, these are guys that are active members only, guys with practice squad eligibility, guys that have exempt eligibility, and we'll stack them that way. We'll rank them and then we'll go through our positions where we think we can definitely get better. It's tough because now when you claim guys you either have a hole where you have some roster flexibility or in the case like the Chiefs when you're a rather deep team, these guys have to be not just on par with what you're swapping out, they have to be better. What I mean by better they have to be substantially better. It's hard to make a move with a guy that's very close in play because there's that learning curve and when they come in here learning our offense or learning our defense we're looking at two, three, four weeks potentially if the guy has no exposure to what we do it takes some time. So it's difficult in that regard, but we have all of these guys ranked, we have a system and I think I said before in that luncheon it's different from our end. That's because when we first got here we had a bunch of roster spots where we felt like 'let's just go for the talent and then we'll work on them because we're young and we're turning this thing over' now we've been able to get really good players in here and they know what they're doing so it's a little bit more difficult. Your standards are changed, obviously, the deeper your team is."
Q: You have some vested veterans that you cut today and not to speak about any of them specifically, but just as a philosophy how important is that rule about vested veterans getting guaranteed contracts play into your decision making at this first week roster construction?
VEACH: "It plays a role. You're always cognizant of where you are with the cap, but you're never going to sacrifice a guy that's going to go out there and help you win a game verse New England verse the cap and where you are in that. So it plays a role, but it certainly doesn't drive every decision we make and we're going to weigh and balance everything if we feel like the talent and what a guy can provide for the team and how much they can help us. If it's dead even then you're going to go with the younger, cheaper guy it just makes sense. If the difference is drastic where this vested veteran is absolutely going to give you an advantage Thursday then we're going with that guy."
Q:On (Cameron) Erving, he's got some tape at tackle this preseason. What is it about his skillset that makes you guys think that you can unlock what he's still got left to unlock here because he has worked at tackle a little bit this preseason too?
VEACH: "He worked at tackle this preseason, he had a calf deal. If you go back to last year's tape it was thinner, but there was one game I think if you look at the last game verse Pittsburgh, the last game of the season, he was at right tackle. We kind of throw a line through that first year at guard. When he first came out you get enamored by the size, length, speed and the numbers and you think he can play any position. I think when you go back in retrospect and look at his play, the one position that wasn't going to be a strong suit was guard and he played guard the entire rookie year. So you look at it from that perspective it's a learning process anyway, with all young offensive linemen in the league, it's an acclamation process. So this kid with those expectations as a first-round pick and then throwing him at guard was a tough deal because of the acclamation process at any position. Even if you're really good at that one position it's a tough acclamation process just to throw a guy in a position that he never played in in college and he's not really suited for so I just drew a line through that. Then you look at last year what he did at center I think he was making some progress, then he got hurt and then he came back and played a little tackle. It's just really hard to find 6'5, six foot six guys with speed and length. We saw the tape and he needs to get better and I think Cam will tell you when he watches the tape it's not something that he's proud of, but the kid is a tough kid, he's competitive, he's going to fit right into this room and when you're looking at this stage of the game to find guys that have multiple years left on their rookie deal, that are 6'5 6'6, long arms, athletic, we believe in our staff and we believe in our coaching. I think we saw it last year with Witzmann and we think we can get this kid up and running again and we believe in the process. But again you get a guy that's young with multiple years on a rookie deal that works in your favor, I think you have to explore that opportunity. Again, what's going to be available for us out there on waiver wire it's hard to find those guys in general and then if you do find one the odds of landing at 27 are very low. So really it was the last opportunity for us to get more athletic at that position and younger."
Q: The fact you were down some draft picks for not only next year but 2019, what's your level of concern about that if any?
VEACH: "We're always going to value draft picks and we're always going to build through the draft. They're just unique situations where if you can acquire younger players on their rookie deal that you like, you have to look at – listen you'll have opportunities to recoup some picks in regards to those compensatory picks. We'll get some of those back. But for example, if you get Reggie Ragland up and running and he may not be there all the way, and we have a plan for him. But for example, if you're able to get Reggie (Ragland) up and running, get his legs underneath him and get him rolling where you have him rocking and rolling weeks 10 through 16 then into 2018 and 2019, it's a fourth in 2019 that you're giving up, but that's potentially a 2018, two, three or four that you're not using on a mike linebacker. That's a tradeoff. Now there's a gamble because the kid has to get back to where he was. But if you believe in the kid and the player on tape and you believe in your training staff and the information that you've been given, well then that 2019 four (round pick) that you gave up is, you aren't using your 2018 two, three or four (round pick) on that position in the draft. So it's a tradeoff, it's a gamble but nothing is ever 100 percent. But at the end of the day, you use the information that you have, you trust in your original scouting on this kid and when you talk about a kid who is injured, my philosophy is it always begins with the character of the kid himself. I mean if this kid is a worker, if he loves the game, if he loves to compete and if the MRI, the doctors and the medical information says he should get back with work hard then I think the first question is talk to me about the kid. Does he love to play, does he love to compete? One of the things we went in Alabama is that this kid is all ball – he loves football, he loves to train, he loves to compete, loves the process, so you're banking on the kid. You're banking on his work ethic and his passion and his desire to get back. It's a gamble. Both of these are a little bit of a gamble but these are talented players, I mean they were drafted high for a reason. Wasn't just us. It was other teams that value them the same way. Reggie (Ragland) is going to have to work with Rick to get up to speed and Cam (Erving) is going to have to work on some of the technical issues that he had in Cleveland, but we believe in the athlete and we believe in the person. So those are gambles that we are willing to take."