In his short time leading the Kansas City Chiefs as general manager, Brett Veach quickly picked up the title of a riverboat gambler.
Though not in control when the Chiefs altered their franchise by trading up to draft Patrick Mahomes in 2017, Veach was behind the decision. The third-year general manager was the mastermind behind aligning Kansas City with Mahomes and his agency prior to that April day after Mahomes’ career at Texas Tech.
John Dorsey ultimately sealed the deal, trading with Buffalo to receive the No. 10 pick. The price was Veach unable to use a first-round pick in his first shot at the draft, but he looks back on it as a valuable experience.
“I think for me it is just learning how to be passive more so than be aggressive because I am kind of wired to go up and get a guy,” Veach said. “I think I learn something every year. That was tough not having a first-round pick and then you don’t pick till late in the second. It was almost like we entered last year with a third-round pick.
“These names go off the board and you get a little impatient. It will be a little bit different this year when you have some picks to work with.”
Although the Chiefs didn’t work their way into the first round, Veach still moved up in the second round a season ago to draft Ole Miss defensive lineman Breeland Speaks. Every player taken in last year’s draft was for a player on the defensive side of the ball, with Kahlil McKenzie transitioning to offensive line.
Other picks, including the likes of Armani Watts, Dorian O’Daniel and Derrick Nnadi, have proven to the staff to be scheme versatile, according to Veach. Beginning a new regime with Steve Spagnuolo, switching to a 4-3 defense, Veach looks for those guys to continue their development as they welcome in another class of picks.
“I feel like we are in a pretty good place. We certainly need to get better and that’s what this time of the season is for. We are excited about having a one and two twos this year and then a one and two tros next year,” Veach said. “I think that is advantageous for a team like the Chiefs.”
As the draft approaches, more and more speculation of potential deals or surprise picks grows. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapaport, the Chiefs contacted the Seahawks about the potential for a trade for defensive end Frank Clark. He is currently slated to player under a $17 million franchise tag — with the Chiefs having more than $20 million in cap space — and will draw a massive contract. Clark is reportedly willing to go in a deal that includes a minimum of a first-round pick after recording 13 sacks last season.
Uncertainty around Tyreek Hill’s legal situation in an alleged child abuse case also leads to potential to target a wide receiver earlier than anticipated, despite having the 31st ranked defense a season ago.
“I don’t know if it changes the priorities. We have a good group of guys that we really like,” Veach said, alluding to injury issues a season ago with names like Byron Pringle. “But receiver, if there is a receiver that we like early on, we absolutely wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.”
As for a potential deal on draft day, be it to go up and snag a high-end cornerback, wide receiver or defensive end, Veach isn’t counting anything out ahead of his first chance to pick on Day 1.
“I think you can have the dialogue, everyone is going to be open to something. I think once you get closer you can have more concrete and firm dialogue on what it would take to do something if we get into that position,” Veach said. “Whether that happens or not, you have to wait and see how the cards fall.”
What national experts are saying
❯ Albert Breer, Sports Illustrated
Breer has the Chiefs selecting North Carolina State center Garrett Bradbury, a growing theme. Some have him going in the high teens, though he could serve as a replacement for Mitch Morse.
❯ Peter King, NBC Sports
In his weekly Football Morning in America colum, King believes the Chiefs will trade picks No. 29 and No. 63 to the Seahawks for Clark.
❯ Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports
Wilson has the Chiefs selecting Washington cornerback Byron Murphy. It would be the second Washington backer taken under Andy Reid, joining former CB Marcus Peters.
❯ Todd McShay, ESPN
McShay sees the Chiefs taking LSU cornerback Greedy Williams. Newly signed safety Tyrann Mathieu, a former LSU Tiger, has openly recruited him.