Chiefs GM Veach enters second draft with, finally, a first-round pick

Chiefs GM Brett Veach was hamstrung in his first NFL draft a year ago, having no first-round pick.
Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — From the moment he took over the Kansas City Chiefs‘ front office, general manager Brett Veach has been willing to go out on a limb, whether it was signing a big-name free agent or swinging a trade or releasing a well-known player.

Now, he will finally have a chance to show what he can do in the draft.

Veach was hamstrung last year by the decision in 2017 to trade away the Chiefs’ first-round pick and move up to 10th overall and select Patrick Mahomes.

And while nobody is lamenting that decision after the quarterback’s record-breaking MVP season, it still left Veach without a first-round choice in his first draft — a big challenge when it comes to plugging holes in a roster.

He will have the No. 29 choice this year after the Chiefs came within an overtime of beating New England and reaching the Super Bowl. But he also has an additional second-round choice from the trade of volatile cornerback Marcus Peters to the Rams, and that means ample opportunity to get creative.

“The fact we have a one and two twos, and then a one and two twos next year, puts us in a position to be aggressive from now until the start of the season,” Veach said. “Looking toward not just next season, but for the next two, three, four, five years, if you’re not proactive in your approach, then you’re always chasing your tail.”

Veach is one of the more open GMs in the league, willing to offer his opinion on just about any subject. But when it comes to discussing details, he’s as savvy and coy as a card shark.

Then again, it doesn’t take a genius to realize help on defense will top his draft to-do list.

The Chiefs fired coordinator Bob Sutton, ditched his 3-4 system and hired Steve Spagnuolo to put in a 4-3 scheme. They’ve already made a series of moves to create better fits for their personnel, but they still need help getting to the passer and in the defensive backfield.

Fortunately for the Chiefs, this year’s draft is particularly deep in both areas.

“I’m always looking for a smart, aggressive, tough-minded defense,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid. “You don’t have to be the fastest guy, but effort becomes a huge thing for me. Toughness becomes huge for me. The ability to make plays, understand the game — that’s important.”

So with that framework in mind, here are some areas of need heading into the draft:

PRESSURING THE PASSER

The Chiefs signed Alex Okafor and traded for Emmanuel Ogbah, but they still need help. They hope Clemson DE Clelin Ferrell could fall to them late in the first round, and Montez Sweat of Mississippi State and TCU’s L.J. Collier are also possibilities.

PLAYING CENTER FIELD

The Chiefs released longtime but injury prone safety Eric Berry and signed Tyrann Mathieu in free agency, but they may not be done at safety. Jordan Lucas and Daniel Sorensen have some experience and Armani Watts made great strides before a season-ending injury as a rookie, but quality depth remains important. Someone such as Maryland’s Darnell Savage might fit nicely.

ON THE OUTSIDE

Kendall Fuller excelled in his first season in Kansas City, and Bashaud Breeland joined in free agency. But things are thin beyond those two, making cornerback arguably the biggest need in the draft. Georgia standout Deandre Baker, Greedy Williams of LSU and Rock Ya-Sin of Temple all have the kind of size and athleticism that the Chiefs value on the outside.

WHAT ABOUT WIDEOUT?

Tyreek Hill‘s uncertain legal situation — he was involved in a child welfare case — means the Chiefs could be on the lookout for a wide receiver in the middle rounds.

HELP ELSEWHERE

Offensive and defensive lines always seem to be a priority for Reid, himself an old-school O-line coach. The Chiefs lost center Mitch Morse in free agency and could use not only depth, but also a player with upside who could develop into a potential starter.