While the Kansas City Chiefs elected to forfeit this year’s first-round pick as a part of the blockbuster trade to acquire Pro Bowl tackle Orlando Brown Jr., the reigning AFC champions still have an opportunity to plug some roster holes with two picks in the second round — similar to the 2019 draft.
Since taking the reins as the team’s general manager in 2017, Brett Veach has proven himself to be one of the more stable executives across the league. However, his first four draft classes — outside of his very first selection of Patrick Mahomes — have left something to be desired.
In a new power ranking of NFL general managers focused on how they have used their draft capital, NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal knocked Veach down quite a few pegs from his 2020 rankings.
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Veach Slips to No. 10 Based on Recent Draft History
Last season, judging GMs “based on the totality of their job,” Rosenthal ranked Veach at No. 2, trailing only Bill Belichick in New England.
Now only considering draft performance dating back to 2015, the Around the NFL editor listed the Chiefs GM as the 10th best head executive in that aspect.
Veach was difficult to rank in this exercise. Patrick Mahomes could prove to be the biggest franchise-changing pick in NFL history, and the Chiefs traded up to get him. They could be No. 1 just for that! Then again, only two of the other 23 draft picks since Mahomes was taken have started at least 25 games: Derrick Nnadi and Kareem Hunt. The team has done a fine job finding role players like Rashad Fenton, Mecole Hardman and L’Jarius Sneed, but Veach needs to start drafting more starters or the talent pool could run dry.
Outside of a brutal miss on defensive end Breeland Speaks with his top choice in 2018, Veach’s classes have seemingly improved with each passing year. All 12 of Kansas City’s selections since 2019 remain on roster, and last season’s haul produced some encouraging early returns despite a season significantly impacted by COVID-19.
First-rounder Clyde Edwards-Helaire started 13 games prior to a Week 15 injury that knocked him out for the remainder of the regular season. Second-round linebacker Willie Gay Jr. started eight-of-16 games and projects to be a full-time starter in his sophomore campaign. The same could hold true for Lucas Niang should the third-rounder beat out Mike Remmers for the right tackle spot after opting out as a rookie. In nine games, Sneed established himself as a future star cover man while fifth-rounder Mike Danna showed some promise as a rotational edge presence with 25 tackles and 2.5 sacks in 13 games.
Chiefs Preparing for Draft ‘Hot Zone’ in Rounds 2-3
Following the April 23 trade with the Ravens, the Chiefs now have six selections to work with throughout draft weekend:
With the 2021 draft expected to see an increase in unpredictability due to the lack of information and medicals available to teams over the past year, Veach worked some magic to secure an extra second-rounder from Baltimore to give the Chiefs another lottery ticket in a potential “hot zone” on day two.
“Much like before the free agency process, I think there’ll be some depth in the O-line throughout the first three, four rounds,” Veach told reporters during his April 23 pre-draft press conference. “Same thing with the secondary. It is a little thinner in the defensive line, in particular, defensive tackle. I feel like we’re pretty good there so that’s good for us. The linebacker isn’t extremely deep. Again, we’ll just have to be patient and disciplined and just look for value. … I think that mid-two to early three area is going to be a hot zone. I think that’s really where there’s a big fall off.”
Kansas City last used the No. 58 and No. 63 slots to select defensive back Reggie Tongue (1996) and Gay (2020), respectively.
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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!