Nick Allegretti doesn’t remember anyone in Kansas City ever saying it.
Not general manager Brett Veach, not head coach Andy Reid, not offensive line coach Andy Heck.
Nobody he talked to during the brief phone call on the final afternoon of the 2019 NFL Draft ever told him explicitly that he was being selected by the Chiefs.
So when he hung up the phone Saturday afternoon, he wasn’t actually sure what was happening.
“Brett Veach, the first thing he said was, ‘Pretty cool you’re blocking for Patrick Mahomes, huh?,’” Allegretti said, chuckling. “He didn’t say, ‘We’re about to draft you.’ All he said was that.”
Allegretti thought it might be Veach’s way of pitching the Illinois offensive lineman to join Kansas City as an undrafted free agent.
After he got off the phone with the Chiefs, he called his agent and asked if he had been drafted by the Chiefs. To preserve the surprise, his agent told him to wait for the news to come up on the television.
A few minutes later, Allegretti and his family watched his name flash on the screen as the Chiefs submitted their final pick of the 2019 draft.
“I do remember Coach Reid saying at the end of talking to him, ‘We just submitted the pick,’” Allegretti said. “So that probably should have told it to me, but I forgot about that moment.”
With his seventh-round selection, Allegretti becomes the most recent Chiefs late-round offensive lineman. Last year, it was Kahlil McKenzie, a converted defensive lineman selected in the sixth round. And in 2014, Laurent Duvernay-Tardif was also picked up in the sixth round.
Allegretti comes to the Chiefs more NFL ready than either Duvernay-Tardif or McKenzie after their selections. McKenzie was new to the position, while Duvernay-Tardif was learning the nuances of American football after learning the game in Canada.
Allegretti, a three-year starter in the Big Ten, was rated as Pro Football Focus’ No. 3 college guard last season, and he allowed only one quarterback hit and zero sacks in 394 drop backs, according to PFF’s stats.
He played both center and guard in college and projects as a two-position interior player in the NFL. In Allegretti, the Chiefs see a player who could transition from playing guard, the spot he started in every game during his senior year, to center, where he started in the East-West Shrine game.
“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.
To the Chiefs, Allegretti’s versatility along with his intelligence — he scored a 42 on the Wonderlic — were significant factors in choosing him with that final pick.
Both of those qualities show up on his film, but they’re also pretty apparent off the field, too.
Hours before Allegretti got the call from the Chiefs, his girlfriend arrived at his family’s home in Frankfort, Illinois on the final day of the NFL Draft.
It was going to be a long day, so to distract Allegretti, she brought board games and puzzles.
Allegretti resisted at first, but eventually she convinced him to put together a puzzle that showed the distribution of each NFL team’s fanbase.
They started midway through the fourth round and completed it late in the sixth.
“It was a great idea,” Allegretti said. “We didn’t realize how good of an idea it was until we were three hours in and I hadn’t been worried at all.”
One of the hardest parts, Allegretti said, was forming the area in the middle of the map: the Chiefs’ self-described kingdom.
“They have a lot of agricultural states, so they covered a lot of the area,” he said. “That made it hard because then there were just red pieces. You had to figure out where the red went and there was no part of the Chiefs logo even left on it.”
Putting together a puzzle might seem like a strange way to spend the NFL Draft, but it’s not that out of the ordinary for Allegretti, who describes himself as a “little bit of a different guy.”
Not only does the 6-foot-4, 320-pound lineman like putting together puzzles, but he also solves Rubik’s cubes for speed and collects coins.
“He can finish those things in 70 seconds or something,” said Tyrone Byrd, Allegretti’s high school wrestling coach. “It’s pretty insane. He’s not worried about the norm and what people expect him to be. He’s perfectly happy being who he is. Some of those things are a little nerdy.”
The coin collecting started a decade ago when he went with a friend to a coin store to sell a collection inherited from the friend’s grandfather.
For Allegretti, who’s always been interested in history and collected wheat pennies — pennies produced between 1909 and 1958 — as a hobby, the trip to the coin store sparked a natural passion.
“The guy was doing his evaluation of the coins and going through what each of them were worth,” he said. “I was like, ‘Wow this is really cool.’”
When Allegretti got home later that night, he subscribed to a coin magazine. Soon after, he was building his very own collection.
While he won’t be bringing any of his 500 to 700 collectable coins with him to rookie minicamp, Allegretti plans on having a few with him when he comes back to Missouri later in the summer. And he has plans to add to that collection while he’s here.
“When I come back, I have a coin on me always,” he said. “I’ll bring a few with. I’ll bring some magazines with.
“Someone actually already tweeted me a map of the greater Kansas City area and all of the coin stores in the area, so I’ll be sure to take a look at a few of those.”