Night one of the NFL Draft is always about the future, but for Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach, the 2018 edition was just as much about the past.
Last year, Veach, then the Chiefs’ co-director of player personnel under John Dorsey, was part of the staff that made sure Patrick Mahomes became a Chief, a move that required the forfeiting of this year’s first-round pick to the Buffalo Bills.
With no first-rounder this year, Veach watched the draft a little more closely. And what he found was though there was no move to make (not for lack of trying—the Chiefs made calls from picks 27 to 32), the organization was in the best possible place because of it.
“You look back at last year,” Veach said, speaking to the media at the Chiefs’ practice facility after round one had closed. “A lot of teams had the chance to go up and get a (Patrick) Mahomes or a (Deshaun) Watson (last year). Arizona moved up and these quarterbacks went quickly.”
Five quarterbacks went off the board in the first round Thursday night, including four in the first 10 picks. Four of the five quarterback selections required a trade up. The Bills, who traded back with the Chiefs last year, were one of those teams.
“It is always good to be a year early in your thought process in how you want to attack things, than to wait ‘till you can’t wait anymore,” Veach said. “And that is being proactive. You saw those teams [Thursday night]. The quarterbacks went early. Teams moved up and didn’t move up. Teams were prepared, even right there at the end with Lamar (Jackson) going. I feel good about our thought process last year, being a year early and not a year late.”
Veach said that on Thursday night, he felt that pick No. 1 to about No. 25 went like clockwork, until some “curveballs” late in the first round, which he welcomed. He wished there had been more.
More teams with surprising selections mean a greater chance that Veach’s players will be there when the Chiefs make their first selection on Friday night at No. 54 overall, or the 22nd pick of the second round.
With 21 more picks to be made ahead of the Chiefs, personnel staff regrouping is required—a process that will occur as Thursday evening turns into Friday morning. Veach said it may take 20 minutes, or it may take up to three hours.
Either way, the staff will stay until Veach is satisfied.
“We kind of had some initial thoughts and now you start doing the mock second round,” Veach said. “Your mind goes to the teams that are on the clock the first five to 10 picks and you’re always hoping that teams value players differently than you do. You don’t want teams to value players just like you do because that means that all the good players are gone. Our crew is up there right now, so I’ll leave here and we’ll just do this whole process that we did for the first round for the second round. Our minds play out where these guys are going to go, where it makes sense for some of these guys that we like, what teams might have those guys in mind as well and see where we need to be.”
Veach said that in the second round, he expects the first 10 to 11 picks to go as expected before the draft gets “wild.” Anything can happen after pick No. 42, he explained.
As far as what is left on the board, Veach sees four or five players that he thought would be taken Thursday night, so if there is a trade-up still in the works for the Chiefs, one would tend to think it happens sooner rather than later on Friday.
The Chiefs did the right thing staying out of R1.— Kent Swanson (@kent_swanson) April 27, 2018
“We feel pretty good about where the board is and how the numbers worked out,” Veach said. “We’re good, I don’t know if we’re really good, but we’re good and feel good whether we stay, move up or move back. I think that there are always different scenarios that could play out, but I think we’re positioned to capitalize however it does play out.”
Veach thinks there are 2018 Chiefs starters to be had on day two.
“I think that’s always your mindset,” Veach said. “You want guys that can step out and play and I think that our guys are up there looking for guys that would have a bunch of talent that you would want to develop those guys in two or three years. I think we have a really good group of guys that we feel if we’re able to acquire them, would come in right away and help us next year.”
As of this writing, Veach and the Chiefs have three picks on Friday—one second-rounder (No. 54) and two third-rounders (No. 78 and No. 86). The Chiefs have five more picks on Saturday.