Veach and his staff have excellent eyes for projecting the talents of fringe players—at least in terms of draft status—and how they might fit with the team. Last year, Tershawn Wharton was a major find for the Chiefs who ended up playing nearly 50 percent of all defensive snaps across the front line.
In addition to Wharton, the team landed a new punter in Tommy Townsend, and several other names have stuck around on the practice squad for a year now—from defensive back Rodney Clemons and linebacker Omari Cobb to offensive linemen Yasir Durant and Darryl Williams and wideout Maurice Ffrench.
This spring, the Chiefs signed far less players than they have in recent years, due to the nature of an already loaded roster with championship experience. However, the Chiefs have already seen some impressive plays from some of the young guys and the preseason is just getting started.
Devon Key could be the next great undrafted find for KC Chiefs.
Devon Key is one young player making waves despite going undrafted as a defensive back out of Western Kentucky. The Chiefs have even had Key in there with the first-team defense at times in practice, and Steve Spagnuolo said it’s just a part of trying him out to see how he looks at various positions. Versatility is going to help Key’s ability to get on the field, especially in the face of potential injuries.
When speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Spags was asked about Key’s presence, and he gave credit to Veach and the Chiefs front office for even finding him in the first place.
“I’ll tell you what, Brett Veach and his guys did an excellent job identifying him,” said Spagnuolo. “He’s an undrafted free agent. I think he’s an instinctive guy. He’s in tune to everything. We’ve got him playing a couple spots just to find out what he’s all about. Really impressed right now. We’ll see what he does in a game. We preface all these comments, right, by the fact that we can’t do anything live, really, and it’s not a game. But right now, I think he’s doing a nice job.”
It’s interesting that Key didn’t get more play in the draft given his amount of experience and size. He stands 6’1, 210 lbs. and he plays with a punishing tackling style. He also was a four-year starter for the Hilltoppers, which is perhaps why he’s been able to step in so quickly. His college offensive coordinator raved about Key’s intelligence to us in an interview earlier this spring, which can’t hurt picking up the mental side of the professional level as well.
In his four year career in Conference USA, Key had 344 career tackles in 48 games at WKU. He also had 19 passes deflected and 6 career interceptions, two of them for a touchdown.