Chiefs general manager Brett Veach admitted that they did field calls from teams as they weighed potentially trading down, but in the end, Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton and Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey were just too tantalizing.
“At 58, Nick Bolton was staring at us in the face, and we’re extremely excited about him,” said Veach in his Zoom press conference late Friday night. “At 63, [we were] surprised that Creed was still on the board obviously, but too good of a player to pass up. So as I mentioned to him when I called him, it’s exciting to add an Oklahoma tackle (Orlando Brown Jr.) and bring in an Oklahoma center, so again, we’re excited.”
“It’s going to be an extremely competitive offensive line room, and there’s going to be a lot of depth there. Like we talked about multiple times, 17-game season now, long preseason and hopefully an extended playoff appearance for us. We need all the help we can get. And we have a lot of talent there now.”
It is probably fair at this stage to pencil in Brown at left tackle and Joe Thuney at left guard given the capital the Chiefs used to acquire them. But the rest of the line should see stiff competition — including a battle for the center position between sixth-year lineman Austin Blythe, third-year lineman Nick Allegretti and Humphrey.
“I mentioned earlier we had some flexibility there with Austin and with Joe Thuney,” said Veach. “With Creed coming in here, needless to say, now you feel good about leaving Thuney where he’s most comfortable, and that’s at that guard position. And Creed now gives you a bigger center option, and we had been talking about that.”
Humprey is listed at 6 feet 4 and 302 pounds.
“Again, it’ll be great competition and they’re going to have to come in here and compete and may the best man win. Austin has shown that he can come in and play, and he’s done that over his career and shown that he can do it at a high level. Creed offers a bigger body, and that pocket and the way that those larger linemen can affect the pocket is certainly different with Creed blocking in there. So again, it will be great competition and we have some flexibility, and now we have most importantly a lot of depth.”
Nick Bolton added to linebacker room
The Chiefs were also high on Bolton, and him playing college football at Missouri afforded Kansas City evaluators a quick trip to go see him.
“We certainly had a lot of opportunities to watch Nick Bolton play, being local, and just a great player,” Veach said. “He’s a guy that can come in here and play both at the MIKE position and the WILL position and he’s got sideline-to-sideline range. Again, tough, smart, can make all the calls, has made all the calls.
“You look at Anthony Hitchens and he’s one of the guys that does all that for us, but when Hitch goes down we’re really looking to add depth there. Then, again, his versatility to play either MIKE or WILL.”
Veach explained that both Bolton and Humphrey also offered some of the intangibles the Chiefs seek when drafting players.
“Both these guys, you talk about their intelligence, their durability and their leadership skills — I mean, these are two high-character players and people that are going to be great in the community,” he said. “They’re going to be great in the locker room, they’re going to come in and learn the playbook quickly, they’re going to get up to speed. A lot of this—especially last year with having no OTAs, and this year hopefully we get into these OTAs, but I’m sure it’ll be a little bit different than in years past—you’ve got to get into the playbook and you’ve got to get caught up to speed quick. But both of these guys, they’re extremely intelligent. Both captains, leaders, guys that played a ton of football at their respective universities.”
Looking ahead to the draft’s final day
After the selections of Bolton and Humphrey, the Chiefs still have four picks to work with on the third and final day of the NFL Draft. The Chiefs own No. 144 in the fourth round, No. 175 and 181 in the fifth round and No. 207 in the sixth round.
“Our guys are up there right now and we’re putting the board together and we think there is some value hidden in these next few picks for us,” Veach added. “We have a fourth and two fives and a sixth, so we’re certainly looking forward to the challenge... I don’t know if we’re saying we want this position or that position, I think we’re going to let the board play out and we’ll take the best player—guys we think can come in here and make our roster and compete and play.”
The Chiefs thought they came into the draft having put themselves in a position to take the best player available, which they feel they did in the Bolton and Humphrey picks. Veach said that each NFL Draft includes a few surprises, but sometimes, what may be viewed as a player falling could just be a string of teams that don’t have that particular need.
“Maybe teams just didn’t see [a player] the way other people saw him,” suggested Veach. “A lot of the time, it’s a situation where (for example) Creed could have easily went maybe pick 48 or 50. Maybe he was on a team’s discussion board at 48 or 49 and they didn’t go in that direction, they went somewhere else and then the next wave of teams didn’t really need a center or have that specific need so then he falls. We’re certainly the benefactor of that [Friday night].
“A lot of it is just timing and circumstance and the way the board plays out, but we went into this day two and we had a pocket full of players, and it was kind of right down to the end there and certainly Bolton and Creed were both in those pockets. I think we had a few more names on there but clearly those were the two best names on the board, and we’re happy with the way the board unfolded and we’re happy to add both of these players to our roster.”
The NFL Draft resumes Saturday at 11 a.m. Arrowhead Time.