In last year’s pre-draft press conference, Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach was asked about his propensity for trading up and the aggression that he would show in the draft. Veach responded by specifying that if there is a drop-off in talent, they wouldn’t hesitate to go get their guy.
VEACH: “I think it’s just the process of really identifying where those pockets are and where the strengths and weaknesses are.”
As we know, the Chiefs — lacking a first round pick due to the Patrick Mahomes trade up of 2017 — were aggressive in attacking these pockets. They traded up three times in the 2018 draft for Breeland Speaks, Derrick Nnadi and Khalil McKenzie. Veach saw the players at the bottom of the pockets of value that he wanted and made his move.
With this year’s draft less than a week away, Veach once again held his pre-draft press conference. This time, he was asked about those very same “pockets of value” and where he felt the depth was in this class.
Q: Last year you talked about ‘draft pockets.’ Where do you feel the strengths lie in this year’s draft?
VEACH: “The O and D-line I think is pretty strong. I think in that first round you’re going to see a lot of defensive linemen off the board early. Certainly, the quarterbacks that have been talked about I think will go, then after that I think you have a really strong early pocket of defensive linemen and then I think tackle. I think there is a nice wave of tackles, four or five guys that are going to go pretty early. I think there’s some depth in the second, third and fourth round at wide out and at tight end, which would be helpful to us. Then I think the corner class is strong. There might not be that top 10 guy that you have every year, but I think it’s deep in rounds 1, 2 and 3. I think the linebacker class and safety class is a little thin, if I’m being honest, but I think everywhere else there’s some really good depth.”
For those have been following the draft, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. This is a strong defensive line class that contains great defensive ends — Nick Bosa, Josh Allen, Montez Sweat, Brian Burns and Clelin Ferrell — and some stud defensive linemen — Quinnen Williams, Ed Oliver, Jeffery Simmons, Christian Wilkins and Jerry Tillery. Three or four quarterbacks going early won’t surprise anybody. If there’s a quality player at quarterback, an NFL team is going to aggressively pursue that player.
What might be surprising to some is the inclusion of four or five offensive tackles early. It’s a strong tackle class overall, but five players near the top of the draft bode well for the Chiefs at pick No. 29. The Chiefs likely won’t be adding a tackle in round one, so pushing players down at positions of need would be ideal.
Veach’s comments about the depth of the wide receiver, tight end and cornerback class should be music to Chiefs’ fans ears. The Chiefs could look to add all three positions in the first two days of the draft, so finding good depth in day two could open the top of the draft up for Veach.
These comments in a vacuum look like Veach might be looking at that “early pocket” in this year’s draft of being full of defensive linemen. If quarterbacks and offensive tackles have an early run, we could see a move up to get into that pocket — very similar to how Veach handled the draft last year.
At the very least, the comments on the depth at cornerback should indicate that the Chiefs have a good idea of where the pockets are with that position group. On top of that, adding an offensive weapon early in the draft seems like a good bet.
It will be interesting to see the strategy this year and where Veach views these “pockets” of players — and whether or not he feels like he needs to aggressively attack them early.
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