If you spend much time on social media, you’ve probably seen a lot of incredulous statements about Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach in the last 24 hours — things like, ‘Where are the Chiefs getting all this money?” or “Veach is some kind of dark lord” or “This will all come back to bite the Chiefs in the butt.”
It’s true that Veach started the offseason with little cap space at his disposal — and has still put together a string of big-name signings that have raised eyebrows across the league. But on Friday — speaking on “Training Camp Live” on Chiefs.com with Mitch Holthus and Matt McMullen — Veach didn’t want to take all the credit.
“It’s a team effort,” he explained. “It certainly starts at the top for us — with Clark Hunt and his vision and blueprint for this organization. Certainly the players — and their agents — realize that there’s something special here, so they’re motivated to not only get something done, but be willing to work with us; [to] get creative to get something done. And we have an outstanding personnel staff to find all this talent — and then Brandt Tillis and Chris Shea have just done a remarkable job in providing us with creative solutions to work through these problems. I guess they’re good problems to have.”
But other problems are not so good — notably the ongoing coronavirus pandemic that has eliminated the NFL’s preseason schedule. For Veach, the preseason has always been a key part of how he and his staff conduct their business.
“It’s challenging,” he said. “Obviously, everybody is in the same predicament. [In the past] we’ve done a really good job of scouring through so much preseason tape. You look at guys like Demone Harris or Charvarius Ward, Alex Brown — who was our active roster for the Super Bowl — Antonio Hamilton this year. All of these guys, we first caught wind of during their preseason tape. So it puts us at a little bit of a disadvantage, just because I feel our personnel staff (led by Mike Borgonzi and Tim Terry), they do such a good job of combing through the pro tape. It’s a little bit of a disadvantage for us, because I think we were really ahead of the game in that regard.”
Veach, however, said he remains confident that he and his staff will be able to adjust.
“Before the Combine, we have all that college prep — watching all the college tape to get our draft board right — [so] I almost feel like we’ll go through another wave of that before the cutdown date, since we don’t have pro preseason tape. We’re going to have to go back and watch the 2019 college tape one more time to get our emergency board right — and probably go back and watch some of these young guys in preseason one or two years ago. So it will be a little bit different process, but I think we’ll work hard to get it right.”
Veach also pointed out that sometimes, rookies are slow to develop in camp, so they end up putting good snaps on tape during the third or fourth preseason games — after the Chiefs have pretty much set their roster — and find themselves snapped up by other teams after the cutdown.
Always looking for a silver lining, Veach thinks the missing preseason gives the Chiefs a better chance to retain players they’d really prefer to keep.
“On the plus side, the [preseason] tape won’t be available — and if [player develop slowly], we’ll be able to sneak some guys through and continue to work and develop them. I think there’s a give and take in everything. Just like [there’s a] negative effect in not being able to watch pro tape and acquire talent, I think on the positive side, we’ll be able to hopefully retain some young guys that we think in the future will be really good players.”
Reminded that many colleges have already reduced or canceled their fall football schedules, Veach said that his scouting department will ready for the additional challenge the pandemic will provide the team’s preparations for the 2021 draft.
“I’m very fortunate to have good scouts who have good connections in good schools; a key element of the process is the relationships you have with those schools — and their character. I’ve said this before: I think whenever a player doesn’t work out, it has more to do with character than talent.
“I think it will be a unique spring,” he continued. “I think the combines and the pro days — if God willing, we’re through this pandemic — they’ll take on a new life; we’ll probably have to travel a bit more in the spring than we’re used to — put a lot more into that. The challenging part will be guys — I think Joe Burrow tweeted about it, his season and how that elevated his draft status — and even a guy like we have, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, [getting] a chance to be the premier ball carrier catapulted him into the first round.
“The only thing that we’ll really have to work hard on are those projections on guys who are starting to get more playing time or [for whom we] got a little bit of a feel. Now [they’ll be] committing to the NFL Draft process, but they don’t have that work to back it up — [to] suggest that those flashes you saw one year translate into big production the next. That will be the big challenge. But if there’s any group that can handle that, it will be the group I have here at One Arrowhead Drive.”