Brett Veach details lessons learned after several NFL Draft classes

The Chiefs GM spoke in detail about the way the team approaches positional needs and player value.
Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs
Buffalo Bills v Kansas City Chiefs / David Eulitt/GettyImages

During his tenure as the general manager of the Kansas City Chiefs, Brett Veach has exhibited a tremendous learning curve as it relates to the results of his draft classes year after year. Chalk that up to some important lessons learned in the process.

During Veach's first full year on the job, the 2018 NFL Draft came and went as his first draft in charge and it might go down as the single worst rookie crop in team history. (This was the Breeland Speaks draft.) Fast forward to the 2022 NFL Draft, and the loaded class will go down as one of the best ever in team history—a dramatic difference, indeed!

Each year, the Chiefs seem to be developing greater patience with the process while remaining aggressive at key times when the opportunity presents itself to "get their guy." Veach himself says that's the case—the patient part—when talking with Kevin Harvick of Fox Sports about his draft process.

The Chiefs GM recently spoke in detail about the way the team approaches positional needs and player value.

Veach recently sat down with Harvick for an interview and opened up about the way he goes about deciding to take one player or another.

"I guess you could say that it never ends, but it’s an ongoing process," said Veach. "It’s something that’s always fluid. The one thing you learn in our league is that it’s long and it’s really a battle of attrition. I’ve learned this over the years. Every team and every fan of our team will look at this roster and say, ‘We need a wideout. We need a lineman. We need a linebacker and what have you.’ That’s certainly true with every team and that’s something you do factor in. 

"But you also realize that when you start Week 1 like we did against Detroit, you say to yourself as a GM that the starting lineup will look completely different by the time you get to the end of the season. It’s not a question of if you will lose players but when. And so I think that helps you stay disciplined to the approach and every position is a position of need and that’s how we look at it. 

"That’s why we always want to stick with the most talented player on the board. If teams can look at the Chiefs and say, ‘Well, they need a wideout. They need a tackle.’ Well, that’s true but we’ll eventually need a defensive lineman and a corner. And if we have a defensive lineman that we have graded really high, we need to stick to our board and take those players because time flies and before you know it, you’re going to have needs at every position."

Veach did admit that he's inclined to go after a positional need if there's no real differentiator between favored prospects left in the team's draft board.

"It is a little bit of a balance. Once you get into specific rounds, I think if the values of the players are close, then you would defer to the position of need. But if the values are different, you may not think you absolutely need that position but if the values are different, you go with that player."

For Veach, the rigors and realities of an NFL season, made even longer by the recent lengthening of the regular season portion to 17 games, have dissolved any remaining hopes in ever having a full roster on hand for an entire season.

"A few years ago, I remember going into training camp and having concerns about some o-line stuff and receiver stuff, and I remember talking to my staff and saying, ‘We’re really good at defensive end. That’s one position we don’t have to worry about.’ Then by Week 8, I think we’d lost four of them to injury, so that’s just an example of thinking you’re good at a position, and within a month or two, having that position be completely depleted.

"It’s one of those things that, as a GM, you keep in the back of your mind that you’re going to need all of these players at some point. Injuries happen, so always stick with the board. Stick with the most talented player."

According to Veach, he and the rest of his front office staff will continue to sort through player projections even up until the final hours before the draft.

"We spend a ton of time on this board with hundreds of names on the board and just kind of work and stack and tier them. We tweak that process all the way up until the draft and that’s something we’ll continue to do today and through the rest of the week until we get to Thursday."