The reigning Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs selected edge-rusher Felix Anudike-Uzomah with the 31st — and final — selection in Round 1 of the NFL Draft on Thursday evening.
The 21-year-old Lee’s Summit native (and Kansas State product) should immediately find a role on defense, taking on some of the snaps left open by the departures of veteran defensive ends Frank Clark and Carlos Dunlap.
Speaking late Thursday night, however, general manager Brett Veach confirmed that the Chiefs did explore trading up — especially since the draft’s entire wide receiver class was available until the 20th pick. But starting with the Seattle Seahawks selecting Ohio State’s Jaxon Smith-Ngigba, wideouts were taken with four consecutive selections — leaving the Chiefs on the outside looking in for pass-catchers.
Veach was not surprised a trade failed to materialize.
“The run was there with the wideouts,” Veach confirmed. “We had gotten out in front of that, though — and I think we kind of knew where the market was. Obviously, there were a few teams that were up there that were AFC teams — and they weren’t interested in talking to us and trading with us.”
Ultimately, the Chiefs were not willing to overpay to move up for one position.
“After you get locked out of there,” Veach explained, “[and] not being able to trade, then it comes into, ‘Well, we will do it — but the asking price is going to be even more than what you would think.’ So [it’s] just one of those things that you’ve just got to stay disciplined — and know that the object is to fill out a deep, talented roster.”
Chiefs head coach Andy Reid lauded his counterpart’s patience — and the overall construction of the roster.
“I thought Brett did a great job of staying disciplined with what the board was showing him,” Reid claimed, “and not going somewhere of just absolute need. So some of that’s because we don’t have a lot of those [needs].”
Veach identified defensive end as a position he wanted to address.
“Just looking at our roster,” Veach acknowledged, “there were check boxes that we wanted to address throughout the weekend — whether that was defensive end or a skill position or offensive line or what have you. We just wanted to come away with one of those premium positions right off the bat... When we were sitting there at 31, [Anudike-Uzomah] was the top guy on the board. [He] made that decision easy.”
While the Chiefs did not find an opportunity to move up, they could have traded down from the selection. The Chiefs’ brass considered it, but chose to stay and take the player they wanted.
“We felt comfortable enough in the first round to take him,” Reid said of his newest player, “and not trade ourselves out of the first round — which we had opportunities to do. But we felt we wanted to stay right there and take him.”
Concurring, Veach laid out what a trade-down would have looked like.
“[Anudike-Uzomah] was the top guy,” he recalled. “And we did have some calls — I think maybe Coach mentioned that. It’s a situation, though, when you have a guy that is clearly the top guy left. Then the calls that we had were talking mid-40s. It’s a long way away — and then you’re going to end up just trading those picks to try to get back up and get a guy like Felix.
“So we thought, ‘Let’s not get cute here. There’s a guy we like [at a] position of need. We’ll just go ahead and make the pick.’
“[I’m] certainly glad we did.”