Could Chiefs’ undrafted free agents earn roster spots? Here are 8 players to watch

Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach admitted last week that his staff prepares more for the late rounds of the NFL Draft than the early ones.

Because of that, it can feel especially gratifying when landing guys you might not expect.

“That’s the cool part of the draft, because once you get to rounds five, six, and seven, these drafts go in just so many different ways,” Veach said last week on the Sirius XM radio show “Movin’ The Chains” with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan. “And so, you’re always looking at your board when the final pick is turned in, and you’re seeing a ton of guys that you had in the sixth or seventh round as draft picks that are still out there.”

KC moved quickly on three players in particular.

One was Penn State’s Curtis Jacobs, a 6-foot-1, 235-pound linebacker who ranked 207th on Pro Football Focus’ Big Board. PFF’s draft profile described Jacobs as “a good athlete with starting potential movement skills, but he must get stronger and continue to improve his coverage instincts to shorten throwing windows.”

The Chiefs also signed Marshall 6-foot-9 offensive tackle Ethan Driskell, who was 218th on PFF’s Big Board. Even after a solid showing at the Reese’s Senior Bowl in February, Driskell went undrafted.

Veach admitted that KC was “surprised” both Jacobs and Driskell were available.

“Both of those guys, we were really close to just pulling the trigger in either round six or seven,” Veach said during his interview with Miller and Kirwan. “We ended up getting both those guys.”

Another player Veach singled out: 6-foot-3, 316-pound Florida State defensive tackle Fabien Lovett. The run-stopping interior player was 239th on PFF’s final board.

KC re-signed almost all of its free-agent defensive tackles a year ago — including Chris Jones, Derrick Nnadi, Mike Pennel and Tershawn Wharton — but could have a spot for a young player like Lovett if he develops.

Jacobs, Driskell and Lovett all took part in Chiefs rookie minicamp last week.

“Three guys there that, I think all three of those guys we’re excited about,” Veach told Miller and Kirwan. “And all three of those guys are gonna have a chance to earn roster spots this year.”

The Chiefs continue their offseason program with Organized Team Activities, which begin next week. Mandatory minicamp follows from June 11-13, then training camp in St. Joseph will start in mid-July.

Here are a few more undrafted free agents that will be worth tracking over the next few months.

Ryan Rehkow, punter

Rehkow certainly stands out at practices — he’s listed at 6-foot-4, 235 pounds on the Chiefs roster — and the BYU product should have a chance to compete for the starting spot.

KC signed Matt Araiza in February, and the man nicknamed “Punt God” remains the favorite heading into training camp.

Rehkow had a sixth-round draft grade according to’s Lance Zierlein, however, meaning Araiza will have to beat out one of the top punters in this year’s draft class.

Emani Bailey, running back

It was a bit surprising the Chiefs didn’t use a late-round flier on a running back. Because of that, TCU’s Emani Bailey joining the team demands some attention, as the Chiefs’ third-running back spot appears to be open behind Isiah Pacheco and Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

The 5-foot-7, 202-pound Bailey — he ranked 222nd on PFF’s Big Board — was third nationally with 70 missed tackles forced last season. He’ll likely have to show that elusiveness and more to earn a 53-man spot as a rookie.

Jaaron Hayek, receiver

It’s rare for a rookie minicamp tryout guy to be so good that the Chiefs sign him (see Kansas State cornerback Ekow Boye-Doe last year), but Villanova receiver Jaaron Hayek pulled off the feat following an impressive three days.

Hayek (full name pronounced “JARE-inn HAY-ick”) followed behind first-round pick Xavier Worthy in the Chiefs’ receiver individual drills during rookie minicamp. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound wideout now gets a more extended period to show the Chiefs what he can do.

Baylor Cupp, tight end

Though the Chiefs have a lot of tight-end contenders after they drafted Jared Wiley and signed Irv Smith Jr., Texas Tech’s Baylor Cupp performed well during rookie minicamp and will at least be someone to monitor.

The 6-foot-6, 260-pound tight end was a five-star prospect out of high school when he initially signed with Texas A&M before a transfer to Texas Tech.

Phillip Brooks, receiver

The Chiefs drafted Worthy in the first round with the vision that he’d be the team’s punt returner, so Kansas State’s Phillip Brooks seemingly faces long odds to make KC as a return specialist.

Brooks still will have an opportunity to show KC — and potentially other teams — he’s ready to handle a special-teams-centric role after finishing second in school history in punt return touchdowns.

He displayed his sure hands during Chiefs rookie minicamp. On a windy opening day when nearly everyone — including Worthy — was struggling to catch punts cleanly, Brooks had no issue, showing the best ball-tracking skills of the group.

Brooks also has plenty of personal ties to the Chiefs, having grown up a fan of the team in nearby Lee’s Summit.