Veach Discusses 2023 Draft

Veach Discusses 2023 Draft

Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach discussed Kansas City’s draft.

OPENING STATEMENT: “Well, (I) appreciate you guys for hopping on this Zoom. I want to start off by congratulating Kansas City for the unbelievable job they’ve done this past week hosting the NFL Draft. Everyone at the NFL league office to the Mayor’s (Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas) office, (President & CEO of the Kansas City Sports Commission) Kathy Nelson and the Sports Commission, just what an awesome three-day event here and I think Kansas City should be proud of what they accomplished this past weekend. Initially (I) want to give a big shoutout to my staff – my personnel staff – the coaching staff for really going hard after the parade right into the pre-Combine meetings to the Combine to the free agency process to the pro days getting us up to speed (and) getting us where we needed to be. I’m certainly excited about how this weekend turned out – adding seven new draft picks to our football team, along with a handful of talented free agents. (I) look forward to seeing these guys this week and getting them up and running and helping us this 2023 season. So with that, I’ll take your questions.”

Q: On trading up and down during the Draft.

VEACH: “Yeah, I think I kind of hinted at this on Thursday night, Soren (Petro), I think our staff, we’re aggressive and we build our board, and we believe in our board. And 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. And it’s a long season. You have to have depth on both sides, so there’s a lot of things you want to accomplish this week. So, we explored that and when the price was a little bit too high for us, we still explored 24 to 26, 27. At that time no one wanted to trade, so we had a window there where we inquired. 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 – there was a small move there from Buffalo and Jacksonville but didn’t get any feedback from the rest of those teams. So, we were content because we had a player in Felix (Anudike-Uzomah) that we liked. And then we were able to do some maneuvering the next couple of days.”

Q: Did there seem to be a wide variance of where the picks were being valued at?

VEACH: “I think it’s – you see it every year where – and when we go into a draft, we have the historical trends of what has been traded for this pick or that pick throughout the course of the year and we utilize those when we’re talking to teams three, four, five picks prior to our selection. But also, that gets adjusted in real time, ‘Well, hey, this guy just went for this or that.’ But, it really depends on the team and their motivation to move down and the (other) team’s motivation to move up. 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. But, I mean these things change, it just depends on how motivated the seller and buyer are.”

Q: In terms of the wide receiver position, how much do you take a look at what you have on the roster versus just getting the guy that’s at the top of your board if you had a blank slate of no wide receivers on the roster?

VEACH: “Yeah, I think we take a little of everything into account. I think at the end of the day we’re just trying to add talent to the roster at all these positions. And I think the cool thing about (Head) Coach (Andy Reid) is, he’s going to highlight their skillset and get the most out of them. So, I think that’s the value in staying true to the board. Let’s find a guy we like. Let’s tier them, let’s stack them, let’s stay true to the board. Let’s get good players here and then allow (Head) Coach (Andy Reid) and his offensive staff to do their thing and just put these guys in the best position possible to utilize their skillset.”

Q: Going into the draft, you don’t necessarily know what positions you’re going to wind up with. Now that you do have that information, what do envision as what’s left to accomplish before you hit training camp?

VEACH: “I mean we’re always trying to improve this roster. And we’ll continue to monitor the names that are on the streets. And there’ll be a handful of guys that have mini-camp invites – or I should say rookie mini-camp invites – and we’ll get a list of those names. And if we can improve the 90th person on our roster, we’ll do that and that will be no different to how we approach this summer. We’ll get into training camp, and we’ll start logging the tape on the preseason games and position battles there. So, I feel like we have a competitive roster that can go out there and compete to win games, but I also feel like there’s always room for improvement and we’ll continue to do that from now until the end of the cut-down day.”

Q: Before the Draft you talked about the tackle position being a sort of changing of the guard and how you’re leaving it open there. What is injecting Wanya Morris into that equation mean for the right and left tackle positions? Do you feel it’ll be Jawaan Taylor at left or is it still going to be a mix and match?

VEACH: “I think there’ll be a degree of mixing and matching. I’m sure it’s safe to say as we sit here today, I mean, (Jawaan) Taylor will be able to go out there and run left tackle with the ones. And then I think we’ll have good competition between (Lucas) Niang and as you mentioned, Wanya (Morris). We just brought Wanya in here and (Darian) Kinnard has some flexibility too. I think at least for sure Kinnard will go back and forth to tackle and guard and I think Wanya has some tackle/guard flex. I think you’ll see (Offensive Line) Coach (Andy) Heck do a great job of mixing and matching and then when we get to training camp just let the competition speak for itself.”

Q: Now that the draft is concluded, where do you feel confidence wise that you can get an extension done with Chris Jones between now and camp?

VEACH: “Well, until you get a deal done, I don’t know in this league if you’re ever confident with anything. But, I think that’s on the list of things to do and you know we get into the offseason and you know you’re into Combine meetings and then you’re into free agency and then you’re into the Draft and then after the Draft let the dust settle and start working on the future and things we can get accomplished in the spring. We’ll spend time and obviously we have a great relationship with Chris (Jones) and his staff. So, we’ll get to work and see what we can do. Those things usually take a little bit of time here, so we have a little bit of a runway now until the start of training camp to hopefully get something done.”

Q: On Rashee Rice. What type of role do you see for Skyy Moore and Kadarius Toney this year? What role do you see for Rice?

VEACH: “Well I think all three of those guys are extremely talented (and) versatile These are guys you can do some different things with. (I’m) certainly excited to add Rashee (Rice) to the mix here. He was a guy that the contested catch and the run after the catch was something that really stood out. We did lose (Patriots WR) JuJu (Smith-Schuster) and I think it makes sense to find a guy that can do a lot of things that he can do on the inside game and he’s almost like a running back after the catch. Skyy (Moore) has done a tremendous job of getting better and improving. We saw that throughout the course of last year and (he) went through a lot of adversity but the kid – his mental resiliency is awesome. Look forward for him to take the next step. You know, everyone knows about Kadarius (Toney) and how talented he is. Kadarius can do anything on the field. He can line up inside, outside, running back, quarterback. He can do it all, he was a quarterback back in his day. Again, we just like to put talent out on the field and (Head) Coach (Andy Reid) will find ways to put these guys in different positions and different formations and different sets. You know you throw that group in there with a bunch of talent we have at tight end, let the coaches do their thing but you know all three of those guys we’re really excited about.”

Q: Now the deadline is almost here. Where are you with Clyde Edwards-Helaire on his fifth-year option?

VEACH: “With the Draft just being over now that’s another thing that we’ll get addressed here soon. We’re excited though for Clyde (Edwards-Helaire) this season. He was actually the first guy I saw in the building today, in tremendous shape. He’s a good football player. He’s going to help us out here, again, with these guys we have a list of things to do with a bunch of these guys and now that the draft is officially ended in the next coming weeks now’s the time we go through all that stuff and start making our plans for the future. But needless to say, we’re excited to have him back in the building today and look forward to hopefully a healthy 2023 campaign for him.”

Q: You traded up several times. Can you speak through the decision making on those and what went into those trades?

VEACH: “Yeah, it’s just identifying the board. You know, it’s one of those things where we’re spending a ton of time on this board. We’re spending countless numbers of hours and we do that because you know this is the process and when we identify talent we’re able to look at that board and know that alright when we’re in a certain range, we really like this guy and if you look below this guy there’s a big drop off. When we get aggressive it’s because we spend all the time watching these guys and we feel like the drop off or potentially they’re not – I mean he could be the last guy that we value in regards to a guy coming in and helping us year one so when you identify that you’ve got to trust your board and trust all the work that you’ve put in. It’s kind of blending the two concepts. On one end yeah, you have to – 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. There’s a handful of guys this past weekend that we were trying to trade up for and it didn’t work out and they went. That’s the way this works. You’ve got to believe in your board, you’ve got to believe in your scouts. You have to do so – you can’t be reckless. You’ve got to take calculated risks. I think you saw that. We took a stab to get up there in Round 1, we couldn’t and so we played it smart. Then when we have windows of guys that we just didn’t think there were like components of or similar value we went ahead and made those moves and then when we were sitting in a position where we felt the competition or the value or I should say the skillset was all similar, we traded out of that one pick and we got a future pick from Dallas so I think it’s blending the volume concept and also the belief in the board and just go and getting guys you like.”

Q: You said Thursday night that you found some reluctance with AFC teams to trade with you guys. They were asking for too much or not interested. It looked like that changed a little over the weekend. Can you distinguish this year from past years in terms of teams not being as willing to cooperate in the Draft?

VEACH: “I don’t know. I feel like all these drafts kind of work out the same way. It all comes down to just the motivation between the buyer and the seller. Depending on the teams and the needs – you never know how teams value other players and where they have them on their board and if they think they can get a similar player later. I don’t think – I’d like to think all these teams operate from what’s best for the team and if they think staying there 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 don’t think that – 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 and to me all these teams have the same name when it comes to draft day. If they have a pick I want or they’re trying to come up and they want to pick from us I just look at the value and how does it make us better because at the end of the day we’re competing against all these teams.”

Q: These are much more athletic draft classes. How much of that is intentional?

VEACH: “I think it’s just an evolution of just trying to get better every draft and every acquisition period. I think we’ve always done a good job of blending the tape and making sure that we utilize analytics and making sure that we don’t miss anything (and) we’re always crossing T’s and dotting I’s. Then I think it’s just a matter of fine tuning that process over the years and making sure that we can be more locked in and better informed in all of our decision-making processes. So, I like to think that we’ve always done this but also at the same time I think we spend a lot of effort just doing a lot of self-reflection and being very critical of how we do things and just learning from the process. But analytics will always play a role in what we do and we believe in it. We also believe in the outstanding work that our scouts do throughout the course of the year so it’s really just every year, trying to fine tune this process and get better and better and better.”

Q: You didn’t utilize a draft pick on a running back this year. What does that mean for Jerick McKinnon and what do you like about UDFA Deneric Prince?

VEACH: “Well, yeah. Obviously, we have a longstanding relationship with Jerick (McKinnon) and we’ve had communication so I wouldn’t be surprised if something got done with him soon. And as far as (Deneric) Prince, he’s a guy that we’re excited about. He’s a big kid that can really run. He ran one of the fastest 40 times at the Combine (and he) has done a good job over the years of working on the passing game. So he’s again, another talented kid that we’re excited to bring in here and we’re excited too about Isiah’s (Pacheco) second year and obviously he had a breakout season last year and then potentially adding a guy like Jerick. And as I mentioned, Clyde was one of the first guys that I saw in the building today, so we believe in that room. It’s a good room and certainly Prince is going to come in here and compete for playing time and possibly a roster spot there.”

Q: You’ve been asked multiple times about Patrick Mahomes’ contract. What’s the timing look like on that?

VEACH: “I mean, the draft just ended here. Coach got asked about it, I got asked about it (and Chairman & CEO) Clark (Hunt) got asked about it there. We’re a few years into a long deal but at the same time we have great communication with Pat (Mahomes), so that’ll be a situation where we work through all those things. There’s no timing on it from our end because we’re in constant communication.

Q: What did you like about Chamarri Conner? How do you plan on using him?

VEACH: “(He’s) just a versatile defensive back. He’s a guy that can play free safety, he can play down low at the strong safety position (and) he also has some big nickel flex. I think he’s a guy that can come down into the box and cover some athletic tight ends. I mean, he’s a big kid, (he’s) really smart. You’re talking about a two-to-three-year captain there (at Virginia Tech). (He) does everything the right way. We were just really excited to add him. He was one of those guys, you know, obviously we we’re super high on Rashee and we didn’t want to get too cute with him. (Chamarri) Conner was a guy that, I mean we – (laughs) it was right there with him and Wanya in the third round. I was talking to his agent today and just congratulating him and the values are right there. Then when we had a chance, this goes about being selectively aggressive, and then we selected Wanya and it could’ve easily been the Virginia Tech safety. Then we get back in round four and we’re sitting there and once you get into that window where this makes sense for us and he’s going to be gone pretty soon, we went up there to get him. But I think – Matt (McMullen), (the reason) why you like this kid is because he’s extremely versatile. He’s long, he’s athletic and he ran a 4.4 at the Combine. He has some free and safety flex. (He) should be a great special teams contributor (from) day one and at the same time I also think there’s some nickel flex, some big nickel flex, to match up with some of these athletic tight ends that these teams have throughout the league.”