As the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs have plenty of work to do as they prepare to defend their title this upcoming season. With the NFL Combine beginning this week, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach previewed the team’s approach to several key offseason events while discussing the challenges that come with the consistent success that has followed the team in recent years.
“I think when you have the GM blue book, it kind of says smart in free agency and build through the draft,” Veach told reporters on Tuesday. “I’ve learned over the years, as you have more and more success, that becomes more difficult because the players cost more and you’re picking late in the draft. Last year, we really had to slam dunk this thing from start to finish, and it was one of those years a GM dreams of. Just everything seemed like it worked out.”
As Veach mentioned, the Chiefs hit home runs in both free agency and the draft as last year’s offseason additions played crucial roles in the team’s postseason success. A key component to that success is the evaluation process that takes place every year during the Senior Bowl.
Kansas City has had tremendous success identifying talent during the Senior Bowl week — an event that Veach calls one of the team’s higher priority weeks of the year.
“I mean the Senior Bowl is certainly a very high priority list for us in regard to how we go about our process,” Veach noted. “You know, (executive director of the Reese’s Senior Bowl) Jim Nagy, he’s worked in the league for a long time, and he does a great job of reaching out to GMs, reaching out to scouting directors to make sure that game is run the way that it needs to be. I think if you just look at our roster – Creed Humphrey, Trey Smith, Noah Gray, Kadarius Toney, the two corners last year – I think if you just looked at our roster, I think it kind of tells the story of how important the Senior Bowl is for us.”
As for the actual draft itself, Kansas City has been successful in going with the conventional “best player available” route. With the centerpiece of the team in quarterback Patrick Mahomes already in place for many years to come, Veach says the Chiefs can focus on filling the roster with talented football players instead of prioritizing need — most of the time.
“We’re looking for good football players and we’re also looking for a room fit, a cultural fit, and how they fit with our coaching staff,” Veach responded when asked what the team considers before drafting a player. “There are so many things that we take into consideration. Every year, when you have these drafts and you see whether it be a mock draft or guys listed on the board, I think people tend to forget that there’s a lot of dialogue. It’s not like, ‘Chiefs like smaller receivers.’
“We like good football players, but do they pass the medicals? Do they pass the interviews with our coaches, with our offensive coordinator, with our receiver coach, with our head coach? Is the chemistry there? Do they feel like it’ll be a good blend in our locker room with our current receiving group? So, there are a lot of things that factor into it.”
When it comes to free agency, the Chiefs will have several tough roster decisions to make as they attempt to get under the salary cap. Fortunately, for Kansas City, Veach is confident that the team will be fine due to the continuity they have as an organization. This means everyone from management down to the coaching staff is on the same page regarding what the team needs and which players can fit those needs as they navigate through a challenging free agency process.
“You have to just have a plan, stick to it and knock it out of the park,” Veach explained. “And if the plan doesn’t work, you have to move on quickly. And I just think the level of communication that we have with our coaching staff — because you do obviously have to hit on the draft and when you have the rapport that we have with my staff and our coaching staff, I think it just helps in that process.
“You know the scheme and the vision and the fit. I mean we’re all on the same page and I just think the fact that coach (Andy Reid) and I have worked together for so long and even [defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo] and I have been together for a long time now, I think that continuity is something that has really helped us transition to our second part of Pat’s contract where it is difficult.”