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Why the Chiefs could trade back in round one of the draft

In the 2020 NFL Draft, general manager Brett Veach might finally get a chance to pick in the first round of 2020. Or not.

NFL Combine - Day 2

In one of the most remarkable feats in this new golden era of Kansas City Chiefs football, general manager Brett Veach has yet to make a first-round pick in the NFL Draft.

While he played an integral part in the decision to trade up to get Patrick Mahomes in 2017’s first round, it came during former GM John Dorsey’s watch — and that move is part of why Veach started his time as the head personnel executive with reduced draft assets.

But the Chiefs gleefully lived with the consequences.

Without a first-round selection in 2018, Veach was forced to get creative. That was also true in 2019 — but that his own doing, giving up the team’s 2019 first-round pick as part of the package to acquire Seattle Seahawks defensive end Frank Clark.

It is extremely likely that Veach will enter Thursday night with a chance to finally make a pick on the first day of draft weekend. But whether he actually winds up using that selection is still very much up in the air.

In the past couple of weeks, media buzz that the Chiefs could trade back has increased — and it makes sense. For teams that want to get back into the first round — in order to get the fifth-year contract option that comes with a first-round selection — pick 32 is a prime spot. That additional club control often comes with a little tax in draft capital for the team acquiring that first round benefit.

For the Chiefs, what would that look like?

I like to use the Rich Hill trade chart to value draft trades. It’s based on the old Jimmy Johnson trade chart, but has been revised with data from trades that have actually occurred.

In 2018, the Baltimore Ravens traded up to acquire quarterback Lamar Jackson with the 32nd pick. Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome — in his final draft — surrendered picks 52 and 125 — plus a 2019 second-rounder — to get the first round’s final selection. So if a similar scenario took place — and they were willing to delay gratification for a year — the Chiefs could roll into 2021 with an additional top-64 selection.

Any return of trade capital will largely depend on how far back the Chiefs move. If they move only back into the late 30s, expect a fourth-round pick to come back with it. For instance, the Carolina Pathers’ 38th and 113th picks would represent good value for the Chiefs to surrender that fifth-year option. But if the Chiefs were to move into the mid 40s, you could see them getting an additional third-round pick — something like the Indianapolis Colts’ 44th and 75th picks.

All kinds of scenarios could be in play; by the time the Chiefs are up with the final pick on Thursday night, it’s likely that several picks will have already changed hands — so we really won’t have a good idea what could happen until then. Some teams could have assets that help them line up as a potential trade partner with the Chiefs — and there are endless possibilities to make things work with future assets, too. The scenarios I listed are merely examples that could fall in line with the valuation of the picks.

If the Chiefs do move out of the pick, the idea of having an extra top-100 selection in this particular draft is intriguing, as it would create more flexibility for the Chiefs to grab great value in a deep wide receiver class. With the extra selection, they could still fill other positions of need — like linebacker, cornerback or offensive line — while still getting a wide receiver on day two. Insulating themselves with an extra day two (or early day three) pick would be great business for the Chiefs — especially if they can get 110 cents on the dollar for that fifth-year option that comes with their first-round selection.

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