Chiefs eager to trade up in the NFL Draft again, but will they find a partner?

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — His plan for the NFL Draft next week remains the same. Brett Veach, the Kansas City Chiefs’ general manager, wants to make another deal, a splashy trade that he hopes will allow the reigning champions to acquire another star player.

Veach, who is known for his aggressiveness this time of year, has made a trade during or before the draft almost every year since he was promoted to his role in 2017. That year, of course, Veach had a prominent role in the Chiefs pulling off the greatest trade in franchise history: The team moved up 17 spots in the first round via a trade with the Buffalo Bills to acquire the 10th pick to select quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

This year, the Chiefs’ draft could start in the middle of the first round, perhaps as early as the 14th pick, which the New Orleans Saints possess. If Veach can move the Chiefs to the 20th pick or even higher, it will be the highest pick he’s ever had as general manager.

“I can envision myself (doing that), but you’ve got to get the owner’s approval on that,” Veach said with a smile Friday during his pre-draft news conference. “We have a pretty good plan this upcoming week, but every situation is unique. I certainly could see something like that, but a lot of things have to fall in place.”



Kansas City Chiefs NFL Draft 2024 guide: Picks, predictions and key needs

Veach, owner Clark Hunt and coach Andy Reid are aware of the biggest hole on the Chiefs’ roster: they don’t have a clear starter at left tackle, the player responsible for protecting Mahomes’ blind side.

Reid knows one question looming over the Chiefs is this: Do they select a receiver to bolster their passing attack or acquire a potential plug-and-play left tackle to help protect Mahomes for the 2024 season and the rest of his prime years?

“Those are two positions that we are looking at,” Reid said Monday of the possibility of adding a receiver or left tackle in the first round. “You’re sitting at pick 32, so it’s tough to tell you what’s going to take place there. It’s a great thing, on one hand, to be 32nd because (you’re the champions), but that’s a long wait, and you better really stay true to the board, what’s there, and take the best player you possibly can at that spot.”

One option for Veach is to re-sign left tackle Donovan Smith, a nine-year veteran, to another one-year contract after the draft. The sexier option — the one that could be a dream scenario — is for one of the top left tackle prospects to slightly fall and still be available in the first round, leading to the Chiefs pouncing to acquire that player through a trade. Those prospects could include Olu Fashanu (Penn State), Amarius Mims (Georgia), Jordan Morgan (Arizona), Kingsley Suamataia (BYU) or Patrick Paul (Houston).

“For the tackle position, once you get past pick 35 or 40, most of those guys are gone,” Veach said.



Chiefs mock draft reaction: Is a receiver over an offensive tackle the right move?

This year, Veach said he and his personnel staff have 18 non-quarterback prospects with first-round grades on their draft board, from a list of 221 players. Veach didn’t share how many of those 18 prospects were tackles, but he understands that four of five quarterbacks being selected in the first round could allow the Chiefs to see one of the prospects they most covet be available after the midway point on Thursday night.

“If it is a corner, an O-lineman or a receiver, we’re probably going to give up the opportunity to draft that other position later in the draft,” Veach said. “Is one guy that you have a first-round grade on better than two guys that you maybe have a second- or third-round grade on? That’s where it comes down to just the value of that guy that falls.

“Hopefully, we can find a trading partner.”

Last year, finding a partner in the first round was arduous.

Veach and Reid, with Hunt’s approval, tried to trade with the Baltimore Ravens, who had the 22nd pick. The Chiefs, who had the 32nd pick, were targeting wide receiver Zay Flowers. The Ravens declined the Chiefs’ offer and instead selected Flowers.

A few picks later, the Chiefs called the Dallas Cowboys for the 26th pick. But both teams realized they were interested in selecting the same prospect: defensive tackle Mazi Smith. The Cowboys ended their call with the Chiefs and selected Smith.

“I do think, though, the ability to deal with certain teams, just some of the AFC teams in general that are consistent playoff performers — the Buffalo (Bills), the Cincinnati (Bengals) and the (Ravens) — it’s probably a little bit harder to deal with those teams,” Veach said. “Even if they do pick up the phone, I think some of their asking prices are a tick higher, so I think we get hit with a little bit more interest.

“I think there’s always a way to make a deal, but I think certain teams will up the price.”



Patrick Mahomes and Chiefs begin working toward a three-peat

The rare exception for Veach was the 2022 draft when the Chiefs were able to move up in the first to select cornerback Trent McDuffie with the 21st pick. Moving up eight spots, the Chiefs sent the 29th, 94th (third round) and 121st (fourth round) picks to the New England Patriots. A month before that draft, the Chiefs acquired the 29th and 121st picks from the Miami Dolphins in the blockbuster trade involving receiver Tyreek Hill.

McDuffie was one of the Chiefs’ best players last season. He earned All-Pro honors after recording seven pass breakups, five forced fumbles and three sacks.

In their attempts to trade up next week, the Chiefs will likely need to send the other team three picks to complete the transaction: the 32nd pick, a third round-pick from this year or next year (they have an additional 2025 third-round pick that they received from the Tennessee Titans as part of the L’Jarius Sneed trade) and a Day 3 pick from this year or next year.

The Chiefs used a third-round pick last year on tackle Wanya Morris, but Veach and Reid understand that he could use another year to develop, perhaps behind Smith, before earning the role.

“We’re really happy with Wanya’s development last year,” Veach said of Morris, who started four games as a rookie. “I think Wanya will tell you this: If you look at his body of work, I think you’re happy on one end that he was able to come in and be competitive, but it wasn’t perfect. It was solid play that I think is a good foundation to build and grow on.

“But he has to come in with the mindset that we’re going to look to bring in competition and he has to come in here and win that position. It’s our job to go out there and find competition for that left tackle spot.”

Scoop City Newsletter

Scoop City Newsletter

Free, daily NFL updates direct to your inbox. Sign up

Free, daily NFL updates direct to your inbox. Sign up

BuyBuy Scoop City Newsletter

Smith, 30, joined the Chiefs last year on a one-year, $3 million deal. He started 12 games but missed the final five games of the regular season with a neck injury. Returning in the playoffs, Smith played every snap during the Chiefs’ four-game postseason run, committing only one penalty and surrendering only one sack.

Veach selecting a left tackle in the first round would mean that the Chiefs would likely have a third different starter at the position in three years. Much of the work in the Chiefs’ personnel department in the past two months has been spent crafting and polishing the team’s draft board with left tackle as a priority.

“It is a quarterback league — and you’ve got to protect them,” Veach said. “Those tackle positions are always going to be important because they protect the most important player on the team. It’s always on your mind.

“Hopefully there’s a window of opportunity for us. We just need a little patience and a little luck, I guess.”

(Photo of Brett Veach: Kirby Lee / USA Today)

Source link

About The Author

Scroll to Top