Chiefs GM Brett Veach on the NFL Draft and the importance of free agency
For the third time in four years, it looks like the Chiefs will be quiet on the opening night of the NFL Draft.
With Tuesday’s mega-deal that landed former Seattle Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark, the Chiefs will be without a first-round selection for the second year in a row and fourth time since 2016.
The Chiefs did a lot with their lone first-round pick in that stretch, trading up to land quarterback Patrick Mahomes in 2017, but it cost them a 2018 first-rounder. Still, a pretty good deal.
Even without much action on Thursday, the first night of the draft, the Chiefs have managed to bring in some decent players with their second-round picks and the compensation from those first-round trades.
Highest pick: Chris Jones, Round 2, pick overall 37
Why: The Chiefs entered the 2016 draft with a first-round pick — 28th overall — but instead opted to trade out of the round. KC sent its first- and seventh-round picks (No. 249 overall) to San Francisco in exchange for the sixth pick in the second round (No. 37 overall), a fourth-round pick (No. 105 overall) and a sixth-round pick (No. 178 overall).
What happened: With the SF trade, the Chiefs were able to address more needs in the later rounds. Picking up Jones in the second round turned out to be a great selection, and he’s in line for a significant contract extension.
With their other pick acquisitions, the Chiefs added guard Parker Ehinger (fourth round, No. 105) and cornerback D.J. White. Only one of those players is still on the team, in Jones, but Ehinger won a starting job after his first camp. He never lived up to his potential after his rookie season was cut short by an ACL tear, though, and he was eventually traded to the Cowboys during the 2018 preseason.
White played in 11 games during his rookie season and had an interception, but he was waived by the Chiefs in 2017 and was picked up by the Colts. He was on the active roster for a season before being cut in September 2018. He spent three days on Indianapolis’ practice squad.
Highest pick: Breeland Speaks, Round 2, pick 46 overall
Why: Three words, one roman numeral: Patrick Lavon Mahomes II. The Chiefs were without a first-round selection in last year’s draft because they traded up to nab Mahomes with the No. 10 overall pick in 2017.
To land Mahomes, the Chiefs sent their No. 27 overall pick, a third-rounder and their 2018 first-round pick to Buffalo. That left the Chiefs with the No. 46 overall pick as their highest draft pick in 2018. Any trade to land the future NFL MVP is obviously worth it, but it did take some of the star power out of last year’s draft haul.
Speaks was the team’s top draft pick, and while he had a serviceable rookie season, he has room for improvement. Speaks will likely be a better fit in Steve Spagnuolo’s 4-3 defense as a run-stopping strong-side defensive end.
Highest pick: TBD, Round 2, pick 61
Why: The Chiefs entered draft week with a first-round pick (No. 29 overall), but rather than taking an unproven corner, the organization decided to go with a known quantity in making a deal for Seattle defensive end Frank Clark. In addition to giving up the 2019 first-round pick, the Chiefs will also surrender the lower of the 2020 second-round picks and swapped third-round picks with the Seahawks, moving from the No. 92 pick up to the No. 84 pick.
What happened: We’ll find out by Saturday night, but the move obviously shifts the what the Chiefs can get with their highest draft pick.
Instead of landing an elite corner in someone like LSU’s Greedy Williams or Washington’s Byron Murphy, the Chiefs will be looking at the next batch of secondary players. They could also target a tight end or linebacker. The Chiefs have two second-round picks thanks to the Marcus Peters trade from a year ago.
Of course, GM Brett Veach could always pull off another maverick move and trade back up into the first round, but he’s already spent a lot of draft capital this year and isn’t likely to further decimate his stash of future picks.
Players who could be available and fit the Chiefs needs at the No. 61 overall pick include linebacker Vosean Joseph, tight end Jace Sternberger and safety Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. The Chiefs also have the No. 63 pick, so don’t go too far after KC makes its first scheduled selection on Friday night.