If Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach didn’t trade up to No. 56 overall to select wide receiver Mecole Hardman, he would have likely went to the New York Jets at No. 57, per a new report from Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News.
MEHTA: The Jets, meanwhile, were positioning themselves to trade into the second round for [Mecole Hardman], according to sources. Gang Green, who didn’t have a second-round pick, specifically targeted and coveted the speedy 5-10, 187-pound wideout. They attempted to move up from No. 68 (in the third round) to the Eagles’ spot at No. 57. Any potential Jets-Eagles deal died when the Chiefs leaped over both to get Hardman. If the audio of [Tyreek Hill’s] fiancé telling him that their son was “terrified” of him didn’t come to light, it’s fair to conclude that the Jets would have made a trade with Philly to land Hardman.
Veach admitted after round three the Chiefs had been taking a lot of phone calls about the 61st pick.
“We were looking at the board and, again, you’re never going to pass up speed,” he said. “When you looked at the wideouts, there was still a lot of good wideouts left, but none that ran 4.27. We got approached for a fifth-round pick, I think it was the Rams—a small move. The teams that were picking before us, we didn’t think that they would go wideout, but I thought there were a few teams that might want to trade up (looks like the Jets) and get in because we had taken a lot of calls. We ended up making the move, and then we came back at 63 and called those teams back that were calling us at 61 and they said they weren’t interested in trading anymore.
“I think we kind of played those cards right. Scouts talk and sure enough those teams said they were looking at Hardman too. I think we made the right calculated guess there. You kind of see how the board’s falling and how those wideouts are falling.”
Since the Chiefs traded its fifth-rounder (No. 167) to the Los Angeles Rams to acquire Hardman at 56, they didn’t pick until the sixth round at pick No. 201. That is where the Chiefs drafted South Carolina cornerback Rashad Fenton. The Chiefs’ next pick wouldn’t come until 13 picks later (214).
Veach explained in a conference call Monday that right after talking to Fenton to tell him he was a Chief, he picked up the phone again, worried that he might not be able to wait to draft running back Darwin Thompson at No. 214.
“I called every team right after we took Fenton to come right back up and get Thompson, couldn’t reach a deal,” he said. “ As soon as I got off the phone with Fenton, I was on the phone trying to get back up there to get Thompson, and I was worried about the first few teams—they didn’t take him, and even though I was calling the teams after that, I couldn’t get a deal done.
“I was looking at these teams. All these teams—they had taken a running back earlier in the draft, so I was like, ‘These teams went running back earlier, I think we might be OK here.’ We were kind of all a little nervous there for those 10, 11, 12 picks because that was a guy that our eyes immediately went to.”
Veach was right, and they ended up with Thompson at their original pick, anyway.
That lucky break allowed them to keep their seventh-rounder and take Illinois interior offensive lineman Nick Allegretti.