It was just going to be the 28th overall pick in the NFL Draft. So maybe it’s overstating things to suggest trading it Thursday for three more picks — including a second-rounder — was a colossal buzzkill for Chiefs fans.
But it was anticlimactic, to say the least, perhaps particularly so for the thousands attending a party at their training complex who were left with, what, exactly, to cheer?
General manager John Dorsey knew that as he set out to explain the thought process behind it late Thursday night.
“I know everybody’s a little frustrated because you don’t get a first-round pick,” he said.
But when at least two undisclosed players the Chiefs were tracking closely and believed they had a chance at went elsewhere, Dorsey and Co. reverted to a backup stockpiling plan.
“We think the true depth of this draft lies in between the second (and) third and fourth round,” he said, later adding, “I think I got a pretty good deal, and I’m happy with that deal.”
In giving up their first- and seventh-round picks to the 49ers, the Chiefs acquired San Francisco’s second-, fourth and sixth-round spots, giving the Chiefs two picks in the second, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.
What’s missing there, you may notice, is the third-round pick that the NFL stripped them of in the Jeremy Maclin tampering case.
Dorsey would say afterward that was “not at all” a factor in the decision, that he “absolutely” would have done it anyway and that the scenario of possibly making such a trade came to him earlier in the day when he was taking a long walk around the Truman Sports Complex.
But … really?
No GM ever tells all, naturally, and Dorsey has no obligation to give full disclosure — especially if he’s embarrassed by the team being penalized.
Still, it’s hard to believe that he hadn’t been considering this possibility since the recent denial of the Chiefs’ appeal of the NFL’s ridiculously arbitrary penalty (which included fines and the loss of their sixth-round pick next year).
In fact, it wouldn’t have been due diligence if the Chiefs weren’t contemplating how to fill that gap.
Particularly in a draft year in which he believes the “sweet spot” in value is to be had between the second and fourth rounds.
There’s obviously no way to know how all that will play out, because for all the exhaustive vetting and invasive probing of prospects, for all the self-scouting of any given team’s needs, the draft still remains tinged with uncertainty.
But here is a hint of why amassing, or at least refilling picks, is a good strategy for the Chiefs.
All 15 players they drafted the last two years still are on the roster, along with just three (Eric Fisher, Travis Kelce and Knile Davis) of the eight from their inaugural 2013 draft.
In the rebuilding of a franchise, which is exactly what they were doing after the disastrous Scott Pioli era, there is a fine line seeking immediate need and cultivating the future (or getting both at once, as they did with first-round pick Marcus Peters last year) and when to fill in with free agents (Maclin and Mitchell Schwartz, for example).
The results, though, stand for themselves even after a tricky and at-times depressing offseason for the Chiefs.
They unexpectedly lost starting defenders Husain Abdullah and Mike DeVito to early retirements, were slammed with the news that Justin Houston needed ACL surgery and were fined and stripped of their third-round pick (and sixth-round pick next year) by the NFL for tampering with Jeremy Maclin.
But the nucleus is back from a team that won a franchise-record 11 straight games last season — including its first playoff victory in 22 years, a 30-0 trouncing of the Houston Texans.
All of that was done without the injured Jamaal Charles and much of it was done without Houston, who missed the last five regular-season games and was limited to eight snaps in the season-ending loss to New England.
And all of that was done by stabilizing through the draft even when a decision seemed to lack pizzazz … like the one Thursday.
Past performance is no guarantee of future success, and the Chiefs haven’t had a perfect draft record and could come to regret what they let go to trade down.
But it’s reasonable to suggest the Chiefs could get a player at pick No. 37 of comparable caliber to the one they’d have gotten at 28.
And at least they filled a glaring hole in their draft opportunities.