Since Kansas City’s Union Station will host next week’s NFL Draft, Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach has a chance to make a major splash in front of the home town crowd.
With the Chiefs recently linked to some of the draft’s biggest names — like Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers and Georgia left tackle Broderick Jones — many expect the often-aggressive Veach to make a splash move to move up from the 31st overall pick.
Few expect that trading back — and therefore not making a selection on the draft’s first night — will be an option. After trading up in last year’s first round for cornerback Trent McDuffie, Veach said that Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt had told him he was not allowed to touch 2023’s first round pick, knowing the event would be held in Kansas City.
Hunt later clarified that the conversation had been a joke.
Speaking to the media on Thursday, Veach confirmed that all options for pick 31 are on the table.
“I don’t think it would be hard at all,” Veach said of trading out of the first round. “I know it was a lot of joking about Clark saying, ‘You can’t trade a pick.’ And listen: maybe there was some truth to it. But I think that applied more in the offseason or last summer.
“We’re here now. So I think a trade down is a part of the draft — and it gives people more of a reason to come back on Friday and see us do even more work. I think we’re at the party now. So it’s all up in the air — and I think anything’s a possibility.”
Last year, the Chiefs traded up after McDuffie unexpectedly fell into the early 20s. Should Veach see similar value on Thursday night, he is comfortable moving up again.
“I think we’ll have a list of guys that you know we’ll feel like we want to be aggressive on,” he confirmed, “and if it works out number-wise. I think we’ll sit there at 31, and we’ll have a few guys — if they’re there and we think it’s a range reasonable where we’re not giving up a ton. I can’t see us trading up too high in the draft, but if there’s a guy that we really like and we’re in that range, we’ll sit here in the next few days and determine what range we feel is comfortable for us.
“We’ll sit there and potentially make that move — and we’ll be content with staying there. I’m sure there’ll be a good player there at 31, and [I’ll] certainly be open to trading back if all of those guys that we had in mind are gone. So I think we’ll kind of see how it goes — and these things change so quickly and so fluidly. But I don’t think we’d be opposed to being aggressive if we felt the player warranted it.”
While draft trades often appear to come out of nowhere, the groundwork for many of them will be laid in the next few days.
“We’ll find a range of where we think we’d be comfortable moving up,” Veach explained. “We’ll kind of highlight a few guys that we think if they fall to a certain point that they’d be worth it.”
According to Veach, there is little agreement among teams about the value of each pick, complicating trade opportunities.
“The charts are never completely accurate,” the two-time Super Bowl winning general manager claimed, “because some teams may be willing to take a little bit less. We’ll probably give or take one or two on each side.”
Veach specified a range that would be similar to last year’s draft night trade.
“We’ll touch base with the first 10 teams, 12 teams in front of us,” he predicted. “Our guys will call their guys. We’ll have communication on who’s using what board and so that when we get to that pick, we already had discussions with teams 18, 19, and 20 — that if we get there, they’re using this board, this is what they would want and this is what we can expect if we wanted that.
“Things happen quickly here, so you have to be prepared so we do a lot of this on the back end. And usually, that’s most of the time we [on] spend Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays before the draft: just making sure that teams know that we’re interested in either trading up or trading back. And we know the teams that are interested in trading down, and we know exactly what they want and what board they’re using.”
Contrary to popular belief, teams generally do not discuss the player of interest when trading up.
“I think if a team wants a player, they’re going to take him regardless,” said Veach. “We just want to know if they’re interested in moving back, what they want ahead of time — so again, we’re not having this debate on whose chart is right and why we’re using this chart. Let’s just get that out of the way early and know what we’re dealing with.”