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Kansas City Chiefs GM Brett Veach sat down with local media members for his annual pre-draft press conference on Friday. He covered a wide range of topics surrounding preparations, evaluation and different situations that could unfold during the course of the 2022 NFL draft.
Here’s a quick look at what we’re taking away from his pre-draft press conference:
Veach has got jokes
AP Photo/Michael Conroy
Chiefs GM Brett Veach has a history of trading away first-round draft picks. He traded away picks in two of the last three drafts to acquire Frank Clark (2019) and Orlando Brown Jr. (2021). News of the trade for Brown came minutes after Veach ended his pre-draft press conference in 2021, which left media members feeling a bit betrayed.
ESPN reporter Adam Teicher gave Brett Veach a hard time with his opening question, asking him, “Who is it going to be this year?”
“Uhh, Deebo Samuel, yeah,” Veach said before cracking a massive grin.
The entire room erupted in laughter, knowing that Samuel’s trade request from the 49ers had gone public just a day ago.
“You were ready for that one,” Teicher said.
“Yes, I was,” Veach responded.
Jokes aside, a trade to acquire a veteran player doesn’t appear to be in the cards this year if we’re to take Veach at his word.
“No, look we’re excited about the talent we have on the roster, we’re also excited about the prospects we have in this draft class,” he said. “I think we’ve shown every indication of where we’re going with this thing and we’re going to build through the draft. Having 12 picks and having flexibility year in and year out is something that we’re certainly putting a lot of stock in. We’re excited to add talent on both sides of the football through the draft and get young and get deep.”
How many first-round grades does the team have and could that influence a trade up?
AP Photo/David Zalubowski
While there are 32 picks in the first round of the draft, NFL teams rarely, if ever have 32 first-round grades on players. Brett Veach explained that their first-round grade number this year lands somewhere in the high teens and that doesn’t include one of the most important positions.
“I think there are a lot of similarities to the last draft,” Veach told reporters on Friday. “I think we have around 16-18 names on our front board as first-round picks. Picking there at 29 and 30, the odds of maybe one of those guys falling isn’t great, but at the same time, we’ll probably not factor in quarterbacks at that point. Most teams do. I’m sure there are quarterbacks worthy of a first-round grade, we’re just obviously not going in that direction.”
Veach doesn’t seem to expect a player with a first-round grade to fall to pick No. 29 or No. 30, but he says if one of those players does fall into striking distance, it’s possible for the team to consider a trade up.
“I don’t know if it was last year or the year before, we had a weird dynamic where the board kind of fell off,” Veach said. “It usually never falls off like you have it. So most teams deviate in some degree in how they have their board and how you have your board. I don’t know if it was last year, but it was like every guy we had in the first round went like that. If it happens like that, then it’s hard to envision a trade-up. But typically what happens the boards do deviate and they are different. Then, when you find value of, you know we talk about 16-18 guys being valued in the first round, then all of the sudden you get to picks 19, 20, 21 and there are still some of those guys on the board, I think you make a decision and see if you can find a trade partner. If those guys are gone, I think it kind of drives the narrative to stay put and just collect the assets. I don’t see a huge jump, just throwing a haymaker and trying to get in the top-10.”
Veach doesn’t want to rule out any options, but how the dominoes fall on draft day will determine whether the team is in the market to move up in the first round.
“Unless something unforeseen happens, I would say that we’ll be flexible, we’ll let the board talk to us and if there’s value we will,” Veach concluded. “If not, we’ll stay put.”
Veach sees value in the 30-60 range of this draft class
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Brett Veach echoed his former Philadelphia Eagles colleague Daniel Jeremiah when speaking about ‘sweet spot’ or ‘the pocket’ of value in this draft class. Veach says that the late first-round through second-round and perhaps into the early third round will be where teams can find the most value in this draft.
“I think similar to last year, when you look at value in this draft, 30-60 is really good,” Veach said. “We were able to get Nick Bolton and Creed Humphrey last year. I think there will be a lot of value similar to that. A lot of really good players in that second-third round.”
Comparing the players available in that area to Bolton and Humphrey should certainly excite Chiefs fans, but it’s also a bold strategy given how good those players turned out. Kansas City has the potential to make 3-4 picks in that range as is (29, 30, 50 and 62), but they could acquire even more in a trade-down situation.
Cornerback and edge rusher are both "up there" in terms of defensive needs.
AP Photo/Young Kwak
The Chiefs have some big needs on the defensive side of the ball at both the cornerback and edge rusher positions. Veach ranks those needs “up there” for Kansas City, but also sees the value in improving the defense as a whole.
“I think that they’re both up there,” Veach said. “It just comes down to our selection and where we value the guy. I think they’re both there, neck-and-neck, in what we feel need-wise. We’ve had great dialogue, in fact, running late to this meeting, we were in it with defensive staff. Usually, the Friday before the draft, we go through everything. We actually just wrapped that up, we actually did have some questions of comparing those positions and where we would be. I think there’s a need to get better at all levels and I think there’s certainly a high priority on both D-End and corner. I think, hopefully we’ll be in a position to add to both of those positions.”
The edge rusher class is one that Veach regards as particularly deep in Day 1 and Day 2. I think it’s a safe bet to say they’ll be looking to target a player at that position with one of the team’s first four selections.
“The edge class is deep,” Veach said. “I think there are a lot of talented players there and some numbers (first round through second round). I think the numbers play into your equation.”
Where could the receiver come off the board for Kansas City?
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Everyone has been pairing the Chiefs with a receiver early because of the Tyreek Hill trade, but will the team actually be targeting one in the first round? Veach identified this receiver class as “unique” due to the diversity in skill sets and some of the injury concerns out there.
“The receiver class, it’s unique this year because you have some different types of skill sets,” Veach said. “You guys know the top guys, you have a vertical guy, you have a bigger guy, you have a shifty guy. You throw in some injuries and some long-term analysis of where they’ll be, it kind of throws a little bit of a wild card into their final grade and where you take them. Like every year, you’re always going to have those skill positions, you’re going to have the top guys who everyone will nitpick and what’s best for you. But those guys are all talented up top, and then there’s another pocket in the second round. Like every year in those later rounds, it’s kind of a, ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ type of deal. The scheme, the fit all comes into play.”
With a pocket of talented receivers potentially going in the second round, could Day 2 be the area where Kansas City looks to add at the position? Based on what Veach says it sounds like things could trend that way, unless some nitpicking causes a good receiver to fall to their spot in the first round.
Pencil in a late-round running back for the Chiefs
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The Chiefs only have four running backs on the roster, but you can expect the team to add another to the room late in the draft. Veach is incredibly impressed with the running back depth late in the draft.
“The running back class this year, it’s really crazy,” Veach said. “When you factor in that COVID year last year, and some of the guys that stayed in school. I’ve never seen such a large group of fifth-, sixth-, seventh-round running backs. It’s like the names go from the top of the ceiling down to the bottom. I told the guys that there is going to be a 1,000-yard rusher that is a seventh-round pick, just by the sheer volume of numbers.”
With four picks in the seventh round, perhaps Kansas City will be the team to score that 1,000-yard rusher.
Don't believe anything that has been said by anyone at this point of the year
AP Photo/Charlie Riedel
Asked about how much fans should believe when they hear coaches and GMs speak this time of the year, Veach was very forthcoming with his response.
“As far as what to believe, I mean, I wouldn’t believe anything,” Veach said, with a chuckle.
Take everything that Veach said with a grain of salt. Take anything you hear from other teams’ coaches and GMs with a grain of salt. It’s smokescreen season and NFL teams use mind games in order to gain an edge over their opponents.