Via the team’s latest episode of the Work to Win series, Kansas City Chiefs GM Brett Veach says there were multiple prospects the team liked at No. 21.
This offseason, the Kansas City Chiefs have partnered with video production company 65 Toss Power Trap for another excellent streaming video series that allows fans to see inside some of the team’s processes and hear more from the powers-that-be as they look forward to the upcoming season. Work to Win is the resulting show, and the Chiefs just released the second episode, one focused on the NFL Draft.
The new episode is an intriguing watch for several reasons, even if it’s just to hear more about the Chiefs exciting new draft class. But one detail that some fans might find particularly interesting is that the Chiefs didn’t specifically have Trent McDuffie in mind when they traded up in the first round.
Remember this: coming into the draft, the Chiefs were sitting at No. 29 and 30 overall after trading Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins for five picks in the next two draft classes. Veach explaind the mindset of the front office with regards to that first round in the episode saying, “We just settled in on the mindset of ‘let’s stay at 30. Let’s utilize 29 in many ways. We can either move up or back with 29.'”
Chiefs Kingdom knows the rest of the story from there that the team traded an extra third and fourth round pick from their overall haul of 12 selections in order to move up from No. 29 to 21 with the New England Patriots. The resulting picks at No. 21 and No. 30 were McDuffie, a prized cornerback out of Washington, and George Karlaftis, a powerful pass rusher out of Purdue.
However, as it turns out, the Chiefs weren’t solely focused on McDuffie when trading up. Veach explains exactly what happens in the video.
‘We had a handful of guys that were still in play, and so while we were on the phone negotiating with New England, I think in the back of our minds, we were willing to do that for a different player. Then I remember being on the clock and saying, ‘Wow, this guy is still on the board.’
“You’re making phone calls at 16, 17, 18, so you’re kind of thinking McDuffie will be gone by then, but there were still a couple of players you were still excited about. We had verbally agreed to the trade a few picks ahead of time, so we had a couple of guys in mind. We liked the numbers and we figured one of those guys would be there.”
So McDuffie was still on the board ahead of time, but Veach admits he expected him to be gone by the time the Chiefs were likely going to pick. He also says he still felt the trade was worth making because there were others they liked there.
If you want to sort through those players, here are the guys taken between No. 16 to 20: WR Jahan Dotson, OL Zion Johnson, WR Treylon Burks, OL Trevor Penning, QB Kenny Pickett. This was the range that Veach said he expected McDuffie to go. Instead, it was an offense-heavy with some nice selections away from the Chiefs’ needs like OL and QB.
From there, we might get a sense of who else Veach says he would have been happy with. Defensive end Jermaine Johnson went several picks later to the New York Jets. It’s possible the Chiefs liked another corner in Florida’s Kaiir Elam. An interior lineman like Georgia’s Devontae Wyatt was also on the board, and two linebackers went before the Chiefs picked again: Georgia’s Quay Walker and Utah’s Devin Lloyd.
Judging by the picks they used, it seems the safest route to assume the Chiefs liked McDuffie and Elam both and wanted to move up the board to secure the position overall. Then when both remained, they got their choice in the matter. Then again, maybe there were others in play that could have changed the nature of the draft class.
Either way, things worked out very well for Veach and the Chiefs with two impact players (on paper) at key positions of need who should give the team a new foundation on which to build a balanced defense.