Before the draft I wrote a fanpost about what we might learn from the Chiefs top 30 visits. Today, I thought I'd take the time to explore what if any of that was correct, and what we can learn moving forward about how the Chiefs’ front office thinks and operates.
Visits the Chiefs Found a Player They Took
1.1. The Chiefs brought in 5 guys all projected to go late/undrafted: Desjuan Johnson, BJ Thompson, Truman Jones, DJ Johnson, Deslin Alexandre.
1.2. Of those 5, 2 are on the current 90-man roster: BJ and Truman. I could be wrong, but I’d expect Thompson and Jones to compete with and perhaps replace at least one if not both of Herring and Kaindoh on the 53-man roster. It is also possible one of them gets stashed on the PS or IR.
1.3. They did also draft King Felix out of K-State. That part of their strategy was not revealed by their top 30 visits though many anticipated it based on the Chiefs "needs" before the draft.
2.1. The Chiefs had 3 visits with WRs: Quentin Johnston, Rashee Rice, and Jadon Haselwood. Johnston went to the Chargers at 21. Haselwood signed as a UDFA with the Eagles.
2.2. Rice, "the WR from SMU," was mentioned by Veach as "the plan" for day 2, and the Chiefs went up and got him. Rice was a true #1 in college accounting for 40% of SMU’s passing offense. Opponents knew they were going to throw to Rice, and he still got open every week. It is possible that after a year without, the Chiefs will once again have a true #1 WR.
2.3. Also while Nikko Remigio does not have great measurables, he is "a football player." Watch his tape and you’ll see a sneaky slot WR who’s always open and a slippery punt returner who could take it to the house every time he fields that ball. He may not make the roster this year, but he may become Mahomes best friend/safety valve underneath if he continues to develop.
3.1. The Chiefs brought in 4 DBs: Cam Smith, Jason Taylor II, Kahlef Hailassie, and Jerrick Reed II. Hailassie was brought in as a UDFA.
3.2. The Chiefs drafted Chamarri Conner and Nic Jones. Veach is throwing a lot of resources at DB again this offseason. Conner may be coming in a year early as an understudy to L’Jarius Sneed who’s in the last year of his deal. I’m also guessing they’re unhappy about something. My hunch is they were hoping for more from Justin Reid.
3.3. Nic and Kahlef along with Nazeeh Johnson may push even more at that 3rd CB spot platooned last year by Watson and Williams. With all these DBs in a pass-happy league, could a trade be in the works? I think so.
Visits the Chiefs Showed Their Roster-building Strategy
1.1. The Chiefs brought in Mazi Smith and Brodric Martin. While it’s possible they did really like Mazi, it seems more likely they were tire-kicking. [I don’t buy the Cowboys’ statement that the Chiefs were going to trade up to take Mazi in the 1st.]
1.2. I think they’re quite happy to get Keondre Coburn late. Outside of an Aaron Donald-type game wrecker, DT2 next to Chris Jones seems like a low-level priority at a low-leverage position. And speaking of Donald, he said Coburn might be "the steal of the draft" as the player "most like him" and even "ahead of him" in terms of development.
2.1. The Chiefs brought in Anthony Bradford and Cooper Hodges. Neither of those ended up on the 90-man, but they did bring in a couple of UDFA’s.
2.2. Jerome Carvin is currently getting the most buzz as a potential 3-way backup similar to Nick Allegretti. IF the Chiefs can find a way to keep Carvin around, he might be the next great accomplishment of Coach Andy Heck’s storied career.
2.3. My friend The Scrambling Armchair also thinks that Anderson Hardy who played LT for App State could be a guy who gets coached up into a starting or key backup role at the NFL level.
3.1. The Chiefs passed on signing the only LB they brought in for a visit, Jeremy Banks.
3.2. Instead they gave a 6-figure signing bonus to UDFA Cam Jones out of Indiana who is a Nick Bolton clone. It seems he fell out of the draft because of injuries his senior year similar to what happened to Darius Harris. I can’t see Jones beating out any of Bolton, Gay, Tranquill, or Chenal. That leaves taking the spot of former UDFA and current special-teamer Jack Cochrane OR making room for a 6th LB on the roster. Maybe Jones or Cochrane can be stashed on the practice squad? Maybe one of these guys will get traded before the final cut-down? Not really sure. Interesting problem to have.
4. TE & QB
4.1. The Chiefs brought in nobody, drafted nobody, and signed exactly 0 UDFA’s at TE and QB. I don’t know how they could be more clear. They like what they have because they have arguably the greatest QB-TE duo of all time. It would also appear they don’t see signs of Kelce slowing down just yet. Bad news for the rest of the NFL.
4.2. They did sign Blaine Gabbert as a potential QB2. It’s also possible they grab Nick Foles now that he’s back on the market. Still, they didn’t see a young guy they liked anywhere in this year’s class at either TE or QB.
Visit "Plan A" Didn’t Work
1.1. The Chiefs brought in 3 potential starting OTs: Anton Harrison, Darnell Wright, and Jaelyn Duncan. The Bears drafted Wright at #10 overall after trading back with Philly on draft night. Harrison went to Jacksonville at #27 after their 2 trade-backs. After being mocked consistently in the top 100, Duncan fell all the way to TEN at #186.
1.2. The Chiefs did take Wanya Morris after a small trade-up in the 3rd. As he doesn’t seem to be a day 1-ready prospect, they then went out and signed Donovan Smith to an incentive-laden deal. If Smith can give the Chiefs even half a season while Morris develops into an NFL starter, this could be another big win for Coach Heck and the Great Wall of Mahomes.
1.3. Some think that UDFA Quinton Barrow has the measurables to develop into a starting LT some day.
What to Make of All This
1. The Chiefs front office had a plan, and they stuck to it.
2. When the plan didn’t work out - getting a day 1 starter at OT - they pivoted quickly by drafting Wanya as a possible long-term solution and signing Donovan Smith as a short-term, low-risk stop-gap.
3. They are remaking their DE room with Omenihu, FAU, Thompson, and Truman Jones.
4. They are bringing in an underrated alpha WR in Rice AND an underrated (developmental?) slot WR in Remigio.
5. They are continuing to bring in young players at DB and OT without using premium draft capital because they trust the coaches to get them ready.
6. They’re looking for value at DT and IOL without reaching because they have a dependable baseline of veteran talent already on the roster.
This is incredibly smart team-building. Yes, it would be great to have 1st-team All Pro’s at every position on the field (instead of only 4) and 2nd-team All Pro’s backing them up, but that’s just not realistic. Given the constraints of their limited resources, Veach & Co. are putting together an incredible amount of talent. I could imagine as many as 10 trades of players on the 90-man roster to other teams who need to gain more talent and could guarantee themselves an NFL player by trading an asset to the Chiefs.