What the 2021 NFL Draft taught us about Brett Veach

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 25: General manager Brett Veach of the Kansas City Chiefs speaks to the media at the Indiana Convention Center on February 25, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) *** Local Capture *** Brett Veach
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 25: General manager Brett Veach of the Kansas City Chiefs speaks to the media at the Indiana Convention Center on February 25, 2020 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) *** Local Capture *** Brett Veach /

What did the 2021 NFL Draft teach us about Brett Veach? Quite a bit, actually.

In the age of amateur draft experts and armchair GMs, it is difficult to get a consensus feeling about any one draft class. However people are divided in their “grades” of the K.C. Chiefs’ draft class, it is becoming more clear what kind of general manager Brett Veach is when it comes to the draft.

Whether you love or hate the way that Brett Veach drafts players, a few patterns are beginning to appear in his draft philosophy. In his fourth ever NFL draft, Veach drafted the following players: Pick 58: LB Nick Bolton, Pick 63: C Creed Humphrey, Pick 144: EDGE Joshua Kaindoh, Pick 162: TE Noah Gray, Pick 181: WR Cornell Powell, and Pick 226: G Trey Smith. These players have solidified some beliefs about Veach’s draft strategy and added new ideas about how he approaches the draft every year. Here are the things that we learned about Brett Veach from his 2021 draft class.

1. Brett Veach does not care about your “draft positional value” takes.

This is certainly the biggest take away from this draft. Veach has now used the last two year’s top 100 picks on the following positions: RB, LB, T, C. Of these positions, only one is typically viewed as a key cog to an NFL franchise: Tackle. It is certainly becoming clear that Veach’s “tier” philosophy and taking the best player on the board is alive and well. In turn, this proves that if Veach likes a player, he will take him where he pleases despite that player’s position.

The evidence of this has certainly mounted in the selections of Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Willie Gay Jr., and now Nick Bolton. There are people in NFL media and in prominent positions in the league that believe that linebackers and running backs are more like luxury picks in today’s NFL. In a pass-heavy league, running backs are simply an added wrinkle to an offense and run-stopping linebackers are only useful in short yardage situations. Despite this growing belief, Veach stayed true to his draft assessment and drafted two linebackers in subsequent years AND a running back.

Veach simply does not care about the position as long as it is considered a team need in some capacity. While this is frustrating to some who love the draft, it does not seem as though he will be straying from this philosophy any time soon.

 2. Brett Veach likes to overcorrect the problems with the roster.

Brett Veach is continuing a trend that he started in 2019. That year, following the AFC Championship loss to the New England Patriots, Brett Veach, like fans, felt as though the defense were to blame. The team responded by firing the defensive coordinator, Bob Sutton, and making a slew of personnel moves that gave the defense and entirely different look. This included the departures of Justin Houston, Dee Ford, and Eric Berry. Veach gave a facelift to the defense by then adding Tyrann Mathieu, Frank Clark, Alex Okafor, and Juan Thornhill.

Skip forward to the 2021 offseason. After a horrendous showing from an injury-depleted offensive line against the Tampa Bay Bucs in the Super Bowl, Veach is at it again. This time it the entire offensive line that is getting a facelift. Even after signing Joe Thuney, Kyle Long, and Austin Blythe and trading for Orlando Brown, the Chiefs did even more work on the offensive line in the draft. Drafting Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith proved that Veach wanted to not only strengthen the offensive line, he wanted to make it a top-tier unit in the NFL.

3. Veach is likely not done adding talent this offseason.

It has become Veach’s MO to not head into a season with a glaring need on either side of the ball. After a few failed attempts to add talent to the roster earlier this offseason (e.g. Trent Williams, JuJu Smith-Schuster), it appears unlikely that the draft has filled those needs. After pursuing Melvin ingram, the Chiefs drafted Joshua Kaindoh. After pursuing Smith-Schuster, the Chiefs drafted Cornell Powell. After pursuing K’Waun Williams, the Chiefs drafted no one at the cornerback position. If one is reading the tea leaves, it would appear that Veach is not yet satisfied with this roster as it is.

Players that are sitting out there right now who could be wearing a Chiefs uniform include the following players (via FA or trade):

EDGE position: Olivier Vernon, Melvin Ingram, Justin Houston

CB position: Bashaud Breeland, Richard Sherman, Darqueze Dennard

WR position: Julio Jones, Kenny Stills, Golden Tate

Bottom Line:

As the NFL changes, so does the approach to the NFL draft. Brett Veach has come a long way since drafting Breeland Speaks in the second round with his first ever selection as the Chiefs GM. It seems likely that Veach will tweak and adjust his strategy as the years go on. For 2021, however, protecting Mahomes was the most important storyline.