Now that the NFL Draft is behind us, we can take a closer look at which teams reached in their picks — or got the most value from them.
We can do this by subtracting the overall pick number from a player’s prospect ranking — in this case, Arrowhead Pride’s composite prospect rankings. The resulting reach value tells us whether the team obtained good value from the pick (a negative number) or reached past the player’s value (a positive number).
A year ago — despite his aggressive reputation — Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach turned in a very good performance, getting great value from his picks. Through the first three rounds, the Chiefs’ average reach value was minus 13.6. That figure ranked fifth-best among all NFL teams.
Thanks to some reaches later in the draft, Veach ended 2022 with a reach value of minus 6.6 through seven rounds. That ranked sixth.
In the 2023 NFL Draft at Kansas City’s Union Station, the Cleveland Browns turned in the best performance through the first three rounds, with a reach value of minus 19.5. The New York Giants ranked second (-19.0), followed by the Baltimore Ravens (-16.0) and Pittsburgh Steelers (-13.8). The San Francisco 49ers (86.7) had the worst reach value for the first three rounds, behind the Minnesota Vikings (61.5) and Carolina Panthers (48.3).
Meanwhile, the Chiefs were right in the middle at 10.0, ranking 17th through the opening rounds.
Later, things got worse for the Chiefs. After “Mr. Irrelevant” had been selected, Kansas City had a cumulative reach value of 32.7, which ranked 24th. The Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles and Browns were at the top with reach values of -34.6, -30.1 and -27.9 — while the 49ers, Los Angeles Chargers and New England Patriots were at the bottom with scores of 47.1, 49.7 and 53.8.
But it’s important to note that the Chiefs’ overall score was mostly the result of two picks: taking safety Chamarri Conner in the fourth round (119th overall) and selecting edge rusher BJ Thompson in the fifth round (166th). Those picks had reach values of 158 and 117. (While Conner’s pick wasn’t the biggest reach of the draft, it was close. It ranked 253rd out of 259). Without these two picks, Kansas City would have finished the draft with a reach score of -9.2, which would have ranked fifth.
Here’s how the Chiefs did with all of their picks.
As you can see, the Chiefs had a couple of fairly minor reaches in the early rounds, two big reaches in the middle rounds — and then finished with two high-value picks in the late rounds.
The bottom line
Remember: drawing too many conclusions immediately after a draft is always a mistake.
The real measure of how Kansas City navigated the 2023 iteration of the league’s selection meeting will be how these players perform in the coming seasons — and whether the team continues its unprecedented success.
But at this moment, this is the best kind of analysis we can make: comparing what we expected to happen with what did happen.
Even then, there’s no way to know how our composite prospect ranking compared to how the Chiefs (or any other team) graded these players. For all we know, Veach was always taking the best player on his board at the position he needed to fill next.
So for the moment, this analysis is the best we can do.