Let’s get this out of the way first: after last’s year’s NFL Draft, Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach joked about a conversation with owner Clark Hunt.
“The only thing Clark told me was you can’t trade next year’s one,” laughed Veach.
Many interpreted this to mean to that Veach had been expressly forbidden from trading out the opening round of the 2023 draft, which will be held in Kansas City. But Hunt later denied that was the case.
“Well, Brett and I have had an ongoing joke here for several years — since we learned that the draft was coming to Kansas City — that we had to have our first-round pick for this draft,” said the owner in November. “Of course, at the end of the day, if there’s a transaction that makes sense for the club, I’m certainly not going to stand in the way of that.”
Sure... fans (myself included) would love to see the Chiefs make a pick on the first night at Union Station. But I’d bet that most fans (myself included) enjoy going there for Super Bowl parades even more. It looks like Hunt feels exactly the same way.
This is simple: if a trade-down allows the Chiefs to add another starter to the roster, it’s a great move. The long-term health of the franchise is much more important than 15 minutes on a Thursday night in April.
The Chiefs have some names they like at Pick 31 — but none that scream “first-round pick.” That’s the signal to trade down. The New England Patriots send selections 46, 107 and 117 to Kansas City for the 31st pick. This gives the Chiefs two second-round picks and four fourth-round picks.
On the clock at Pick 46, the Chiefs have missed most of the highly-regarded tackles and receivers — but there are still some great pass rushers available. The depth at that position is part of the reason Veach knew the trade would work.
The picks: Felix Anudike-Uzomah (EDGE, Kansas State) at 46; Jaelyn Duncan (tackle, Maryland) at 63
In the second round, Kansas City gets two starting-level players.
Given his athletic profile (and how he was utilized in Manhattan) Anudike-Uzomah has great upside. With George Karlaftis, Chris Jones, Charles Omenihu (and the potential return of Frank Clark) the team’s pass rush goes from good to great.
Duncan is a developmental offensive lineman who has all the traits of a true pass-protecting left tackle. While he’s a bit raw, playing him next to Joe Thuney — a left tackle’s best friend — and having Jawaan Taylor lock down the right side makes lots of sense.
The Chiefs have been clear: they are looking for long-term answers at tackle. Duncan and Taylor are exactly that.
This is the round where project-level wide receivers really start making sense. The Chiefs don’t need all four fourth-round picks, so they trade up with the pick-hungry Arizona Cardinals, getting Pick 96 in exchange for 107 and 117. This gives them back-to-back third-round picks.
The Picks: Kayshon Boutte (wide receiver, LSU) at 95; Bryce Ford-Wheaton (wide receiver, West Virginia) at 96
By double-dipping at wideout, Kansas City helps guarantee youth at the position. The two players bring different things to the table.
Boutte is dynamic after the catch — and has the speed to break big plays. While he’s had a rough time before the draft, his tape is promising.
Ford-Wheaton, however, is a much more traditional X-receiver who has the size to win contested catches. The West Virginia wideout has had a great pre-draft process; he’s been climbing the boards.
So far, the Chiefs have acquired at least three starters with their first four picks — and they still have plenty of picks remaining. Veach is now free to take the best player available.
The picks: Chase Brown (running back, Illinois) at 122; Kobie Turner (interior defensive line, Wake Forest) at 134
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire has struggled to get on the field even when he is healthy. Jerick McKinnon remains a free agent. Despite Veach’s success in picking Isiah Pacheco in 2022’s seventh round, most good NFL backs are selected in the first four rounds. Alongside Pacheco, Brown — a high school track star who had a ton of success in college — gives Kansas City a true two-headed monster. Brown has also improved as a pass-catcher in every season.
Turner would plug nicely into Khalen Saunders’ role. Like Saunders, he is a little undersized — but plays solid run defense. He also has some pass rushing upside — and alongside Chris Jones, he would bring another speed element to the interior.
If this draft were held in Cleveland, Kansas City fans would be thrilled with two picks each in rounds two, three and four.
But regardless of where the draft is held, we should acknowledge the possibility that a trade down might actually be what’s in the team’s best interest. Even before Day 3 begins, the Chiefs could find their left tackle of the future, a starting EDGE, a starting receiver and two rotational players.