Are KC Chiefs putting too many eggs in the NFL Draft basket?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAR 01: Brett Veach, general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 1, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - MAR 01: Brett Veach, general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs speaks to reporters during the NFL Draft Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on March 1, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images) /

For the majority of Brett Veach’s career as general manager of the K.C. Chiefs, he’s been recognized for his aggressiveness in trying to fix team issues even if it means sacrificing valuable assets. He’s been willing to spend money and trade away draft picks to find immediate contributors.

Veach took that approach to fix the offensive line last offseason. He also did it in 2019 to try and fix the defense, and he’s constantly gone after the “known commodity” rather than betting on the draft when it comes to patching holes. Not to say he is reluctant to build through the draft, but he’s definitely shown he is not afraid to give up picks and hand out contracts.

However, there seems to have been a shift in philosophy this offseason in how the Chiefs are looking to build their roster. Veach made it known at the beginning of the offseason that the defensive side of the ball would be the focus, particularly the pass rush. Yet, two weeks out from the draft both are arguably worse than last year on paper and little to none has been done to fix it through free agency. Furthermore, the Chiefs’ offense took a hit by moving on from wide receiver Tyreek Hill. At the same time, that trade brought them a haul of picks and additional cap space.

Are the Kansas City Chiefs putting too many eggs in the NFL Draft basket for a team that’s already a favorite for a Super Bowl?

That leaves the Chiefs with some gaping holes at several important positions. At this point, most impact free agents are gone or probably aren’t signing until after the draft. The Chiefs can still nab a couple of them, but they haven’t been connected to many. They’ve also shown they don’t want to dive into the pass rusher market either. Essentially, they anticipate going into the draft with many holes.

The Chiefs have 12 picks in this upcoming draft including eight in the first four rounds. So, they have a lot of picks, but are they relying too much on the draft to solve all of their problems?

The NFL Draft is a great opportunity to add young, cost-controlled talent which many would agree the Chiefs need more of but nothing is guaranteed in the draft either. You don’t know whether or not any players you pick are going to pan out and just because you have more picks doesn’t mean all of them or even most of them are going to hit.

This is where the controversial debate of Brett Veach’s ability to draft comes in. There’s no arguing Veach’s latest class was great. He was able to find studs at three spots with Nick Bolton, Creed Humphrey, and Trey Smith. You could also say every year Veach has improved in the draft. That said, he’s got some pretty big whiffs and he has struggled to draft well at some of the more premium positions. Hitting on an interior offensive lineman is one thing, but who is a single stud pass rusher he’s brought to this team?

In his tenure, Veach has selected a handful of defensive linemen: Breeland Speaks, Derrick Nnadi, Khalen Saunders, Mike Danna, and Joshua Kaindoh. It should also be noted that Veach spent significant capital to acquire Frank Clark. Does that list of acquisitions through the draft really inspire confidence that Veach can fix the defensive line? Most would tend to say no.

Last year after the Chiefs traded their first-round pick for Orlando Brown, the Baltimore Ravens used what would have been the Chiefs’ pick to take defensive end Jayson Oweh at pick No. 31. Oweh had a decent rookie year for the Ravens recording 5 sacks. That feels like one of the better case scenarios for the Chiefs this year at picks 29 or 30. A Jayson Oweh type of talent who has 5 sacks in year one. Is that enough though? Is that enough to justify Brett Veach’s comments from the beginning of the offseason about fixing this defensive line? The Chiefs could still double up on edge in the draft but again having more picks doesn’t mean that both picks are going to hit. It’s a risk.

It appears that is a risk the Chiefs are willing to take, though. They don’t really have a choice. They must hit on most of these picks in order for the plan to be considered a success. I understand the Chiefs’ desires to get younger and more athletic with these picks, but the team’s inactivity in the free agent market was suboptimal, especially at cornerback, safety, and defensive end where the talent is sorely lacking. Surely they aren’t planning on going into the draft needing multiple contributors at this many positions, right? Could there still be a trade we aren’t talking about?

Maybe it is just the reasonable thing to acknowledge that the Chiefs are looking at this as a 2-3 year plan that would indicate next year is going to be a reset year. The Chiefs will still be competitive but Super Bowl contenders? Top team in the AFC? Some may still argue in the Chiefs’ favor because after all they do still have Patrick Mahomes, but we’ve seen for the last two seasons now that simply having Mahomes doesn’t outweigh everything else. The Chiefs have to find ways to win outside of Mahomes-as-hero, especially with the strides other teams have made in free agency. Perhaps the best way to do that is through the draft and getting younger.

There’s just an uncomfortable amount of pressure right now surrounding Brett Veach, the organization, and what the Chiefs do with these picks.

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