Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach frequently talks about NFL Draft "pockets" — that is, which parts of the draft present the most significant opportunity for value.
The attempt for the Round 1 move-up
If an opportunity presents itself to go and get a player he likes, Veach isn't scared to utilize his draft capital to trade up. During his post-draft press conference on Monday afternoon, Veach said that they did their best to attack the "pockets" where he saw them.
"I think our staff, we're aggressive, and we build our board, and we believe in our board," he said. "If there's a range that we feel makes sense for us, we'll certainly explore that, and we did that Thursday night, and we [explored] some trade opportunities, and I think that the window just from (pick) 18 to say (pick) 22, 23 was just a little bit uncomfortable for us because we do believe in our board, but at the same time, we do believe in, obviously, a volume of good players."
FYI: The #Cowboys did field a call from the Chiefs to potentially move down to 31, but it was nixed when Kansas City said they were moving up for Mazi Smith.— Patrik [No C] Walker (@VoiceOfTheStar) April 28, 2023
Andy Reid wanted him. Mike McCarthy got him.
Veach said that the asking price to move up to those positions was higher than what the Chiefs felt comfortable paying, so he attempted to call the next round of teams (picks 24-27) to see if they could work something out.
"At that time, no one wanted to trade, so we had a window there where we inquired," he explained. "And again, the price was a little bit too high, and after that, there were no teams wanting to trade, and these teams wanted to pick."
So instead of trading up, the Chiefs decided to stand pat and select a local Kansas City product.
"We were content because we had a player in Felix [Anudike-Uzomah] that we liked."
Weighing the value of the pick against resources to give up
Veach went on to say that one of the biggest factors that play into finding a trade partner, and how much it will cost you, is the other teams' motivation to move out of the spot.
"It really depends on the team and their motivation to move down and the [other] team's motivation to move up," explained Veach, "So if a team is there — I think typically teams are doing a number count in their head and if they aren't comfortable selecting a player they want or really confident they're going to get them just a few picks later, they sometimes take lesser value just to acquire another pick. "
Wanya Morris started 8 of 9 games at right tackle in 2022. SEC All-Freshman Team in 2019.#Chiefs sent pick No. 95 and No. 217 to the #Bengals to move up to select No. 92@TheChiefsWire - https://t.co/YDdgMmyfz5 @goldmctNFL— Ed Easton Jr. (@EdEastonJr) April 29, 2023
#NFLDraft | #ChiefsKingdom pic.twitter.com/01E1mxDPro
The deciding factor on when to pull the trigger and move up or when to trade back and collect extra picks all depends on trusting the hours of scouting work put into each prospect on the draft board.
"He could be the last guy that we value in regards to a guy coming in and helping us Year 1, so when you identify that, you've got to trust your board and trust all the work that you've put in," he said. "It's kind of blending the two concepts — on one end... there is that lotto aspect where you have to throw a bunch of numbers at this, but at the same time, we wouldn't be doing our job if we didn't set the board [and] spend all that time doing the work and if we believe in a guy you can't risk losing those guys."
Trust your scouts — not the internet
Veach said that even when you try your hardest to plan for every single scenario, sometimes the draft throws you a curveball, and it just doesn't work out. That's when you have to lean on your scouts the most.
"You've got to believe in your board; you've got to believe in your scouts," he said. "You have to do so; you can't be reckless. You've got to take calculated risks."
Veach concluded by explaining that every team will try to do what's best for the organization.
"If they think staying there (at their pick) and adding a player they can't get later is the best thing, they do it, and if they think there's a like component or maybe they're not as high on a pocket of players, then they move down.
"I know from my standpoint, I've never made a call or taken a call from another team and said, 'Well, that might be better for them.'
"I think I always operate from what's best for us."