Grading every Chiefs first-round pick during Brett Veach’s tenure
By Matt Conner
2021: Used in complex trade for Orlando Brown Jr.
In the spring of 2021, the Chiefs entered the offseason with a single top priority: remake the offensive line. In the aftermath of a devastating loss in the previous year’s Super Bowl, in which a patchwork o-line finally fell apart in the face of a relentless pass rush from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, general manager Brett Veach set out to completely overhaul the line left to right.
Free agency began with mixed results for the Chiefs. While their pursuit of a new anchor in left guard Joe Thuney went as planned, their overtures to lure Trent Williams away from the Bay Area failed in the end, leaving the Chiefs without a clear option at left tackle after such a public chase.
For a few weeks, the Chiefs went silent at the position and left fans wondering if someone like Alejandro Villanueva or Russell Okung was going to fill the role. Then Veach came out with a mega-deal with the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for Orlando Brown Jr., a former right tackle demanding to play the left side who was also searching for a new deal.
The exact deal came down to first, third, and fourth-round picks in the 2021 NFL Draft along with a fifth-round pick in the 2022 draft in exchange for Brown, a second-round choice, and a sixth-round selection in the 2022 NFL Draft. The Chiefs used the second-round choice on Nick Bolton and used the sixth to trade for Vikings cornerback Mike Hughes the following year. Meanwhile, the Ravens nabbed defensive end Odafe Oweh and guard Ben Cleveland and then traded other picks to help acquire cornerback Shaun Wade, lineman Daniel Faalele, and tight end Charlie Kolar.
Opinions about Brown will vary from fan to fan, but it’s hard to argue with the fact that he was at least a solid left tackle for two seasons in which a Super Bowl was won. The Chiefs also walked out of that deal with Nick Bolton in the heart of the defense. Still, given Brown’s financial demands and brief tenure, we’ll go with a B.