Brett Veach has already shown a prerogative to move freely up and down draft boards based on the players he wants. This time, more than all of the others, he must trade down this time—unless some linebackers fall.
Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach, in only his third offseason in the position, is off to a historically good start. Not only has his direction helped lead the Chiefs to a Super Bowl LIV Championship, but he has also been the engineer of multiple savvy trades that have paid off, has gambled on several free agents that have been instrumental for the Chiefs, and of course, is credited with the Chiefs drafting Super Bowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes.
Another area where Veach has shown prowess beyond his years is in navigating the NFL Draft. Veach has been decisive in targeting the players that he wants, and has been willing and able to swing deals to move up or down to ensure the ability to snag those targets. Veach did this last year when he gave up a 5th round pick to move up five spots in the 2nd round to take wide receiver Mecole Hardman. He also did this in 2018 when he flipped 2nd and 3rd round picks with the Cincinnati Bengals to select defensive end Breeland Speaks to move up in the second and then again to select defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi in the third.
Veach has also been willing to give up picks for players that he wants: (indirectly) for Mahomes, and for defensive end Frank Clark last year.
2020 is to be the year that Veach finally makes a 1st round selection, his first as a general manager in this, his third draft at the helm. It is possible that he does not do so, that he instead trades down and accumulates more draft capital. Or, of course, he could trade up to secure his targeted player for this draft class. Finally, he could certainly stand pat, and select the best player available at pick number 32—perhaps a cornerback, an offensive lineman, or a running back.
But he should—no, he must trade down. The future of the dynasty, and Veach’s legacy, may depend on it.
The Chiefs Must Trade Down
There are three primary reasons why Kansas City must trade down from the 32nd overall selection in this year’s draft.
First, the Chiefs will get tremendous value in doing so. The closer we get to draft time, the deeper and deeper this class appears to be. There are going to be a lot of great players sitting on the board when the Chiefs go on the clock. For their selection, this means that there is almost certain to be competition. The added bonus of the premium paid for that fifth-year player option makes this pick even sweeter.
Second, the Chiefs must find players who are prepared to contribute to the team. The Chiefs have done the right thing by bringing back 20 of 22 starters from the Super Bowl squad. In a year unlikely to have a true offseason, this is important. But the depth on the team took a hit, in a big way, and the team needs multiple contributors to replace them.
Two missing Super Bowl starters must be replaced: Stefen Wisniewski in the interior offensive line, and starting linebacker Reggie Ragland. In addition, Kansas City must replace key departed defenders like Kendall Fuller, Emmanuel Ogbah and/or Terrell Suggs. (Suggs basically replaced Ogbah when he went on IR in 2019, so they need to replace a defensive end.)
From this draft, it is reasonable to assert that Kansas City needs to draft players who are capable of starting at: linebacker, guard, and cornerback. Secondarily, they also need capable and ready backups at: tackle, linebacker, defensive end, and safety. The Chiefs are a Super Bowl Champion returning 20 of 22 starters from a season ago who have a lot of work to do.
Third, the Chiefs have to start replacing pieces they’ll lose next year, and also the year after. A look:
It is impossible to replace that many players through free agency alone (obviously), and currently the Chiefs have a total of 12 selections over the next two years. If they get six players ready to start in 2021 out of those five, Veach will have done very well. With 16 free agents, 10 of whom are integral contributors, the team needs more selections. The Chiefs need to accumulate draft capital and in a draft this deep, securing two extra top 100 picks (five total) is more valuable than one single top 32 pick.
Veach needs to trade this pick. He should do so for a top half 2nd round pick and two additional top 106 (end of the 3rd round) selections. This move would give the Chiefs five picks in the first three rounds and seven overall. For hole filling purposes, this feels a lot better.
There is no question that Veach must trade down in the 1st round of the 2020 draft. The timing is right, the need is there, and the future is terrifying.
There are only two reasons why Veach should not trade down from the 32nd overall pick. A run on offensive tackles, wide receivers, and/or quarterbacks could push a game-changing, Derrick Johnson-type linebacker straight in to the laps of the defending Super Bowl Champions. If the Chiefs have the ability to draft either Patrick Queen of LSU or Kenneth Murray of Oklahoma—players who are capable of starting for this defense this year—then they must do so and worry about filling the holes at another time. I
t is atypical for players the caliber of these two linebackers to be available at 32. Either would give Kansas City a linebacking field general the likes of which they haven’t had since DJ left. Either would alter the face of the defense. Either would be a steal; and either should be taken with much glee from the Chiefs and their fans.
(Interesting note: the Chiefs may be able to acquire a second 1st round selection this year by giving up next year’s 1st and 2nd round picks. That could give them the opportunity to take both Queen and Murray. I say, go for it!)