For weeks on end, the book about the Kansas City Chiefs’ approach in the 2022 NFL Draft read that they were chasing a wide receiver early as well as an edge rusher. They were expected to land both given their tremendous amount of draft assets, but with the team’s first official move, general manager Brett Veach traded up and landed something unexpected—a cornerback in Washington’s Trent McDuffie.
With the draft in the rearview mirror, the Chiefs have received no shortage of praise for the way the draft came together for them through both patience and aggression. They grabbed that edge rusher in George Karlaftis and then landed the wideout in Skyy Moore. But the class also delivered tremendous depth in the secondary to go with more help along the offensive line and another jolt of talent at running back.
Now that he can breathe a bit easier, Veach is apparently cool to open up about his draft process. He recently spoke to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, specifically on the video interview series PFT PM. As Florio chats with GMs around the league, he was able to get Veach to speak candidly about the mechanics of the trade-up for McDuffie in the first round.
The Kansas City Chiefs general manager spoke honestly about the full thought process for the Chiefs in the first round move to get Trent McDuffie.
Remember, Veach originally had No. 29 and 30 in the first round (among 12 total picks) in the 2022 NFL Draft and ended up sending an extra third and fourth-rounder to move up in the first to No. 21 overall. Here’s how Veach set up the days leading up to the draft to Florio:
“I didn’t foresee a monster move up where you’re trading all this equity. We had two 1s, two 2s, two 3s. There’s so much value in that. These seasons are so long and there’s a battle of attrition and you have to have a deep roster.
“We wanted to be selectively aggressive. We went through a few different game plans and what we thought was what made sense for us, in regards to adding to hat defense, is that we could make a small move. We talked about that game plan on Monday. On Tuesday and Wednesday, we were calling the Eagles at 18, the Saints at 19, 20 with the Steelers, 21 to New England, 22 with the Packers, and so on.”
Then on draft night, Veach says they started to work the phone lines for a potential move up as the second half got underway on that opening Thursday night.
“We started at 18. We really wanted to not have to do anything with 50 or 62. We did have two 3s and two 4s, so let’s look at those combinations and see where those get us. It probably will get us 21 or 22, but let’s call the teams in front of us. New Orleans was receptive but it would cost us 62.
“We wanted to address the corner position. We thought there were teams like Tennessee and Buffalo that would go corner. We thought the d-end group, the numbers played in our favor. So if we waited until 30, we just felt there were numbers before and after that first round that would help us. Whereas corners, during our process, we had a couple of guys and we felt it would be iffy if they fell to 29. So we were committed to moving up to corner the whole time.
“We had dialogue with all the teams. We ended up staying on 19 because we wanted to keep 62. Then the Eagles made the trade, which kind of opened a door for us because I think they may have gone corner. Then with New England, we doubled back with our conversation and executed that. But it was corner the whole time for us, and I think that prompted Buffalo’s move because they moved up two to get the next corner. If we had stayed, I think both McDuffie and [Kaiir] Elam were gone, so that was a strategy that worked out in our favor.”
Veach is right that the corners went quickly, and now the Chiefs have their first major draft investment at cornerback since John Dorsey added Marcus Peters, also from the University of Washington, back in 2015. He read the board correctly, held onto the draft capital he wanted most, and landed one of the prized defenders in this year’s draft.