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Chiefs of Chess

Brett Veach
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA – FEBRUARY 28: General manager Brett Veach of the Kansas City Chiefs speaks to the media during the NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center on February 28, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

What have the Chiefs lost? What have the Chiefs gained? What is next for the Chiefs? There is no doubt that the Kansas City Chiefs are a long way away from the days of Carl Peterson making moves in the front office (good or bad). Certainly, there is a new era of decision-makers manning the front offices at Arrowhead Drive. The new Chief decision maker, Brett Veach, has orchestrated moves to get his team to three Super Bowls in four years. This success has vaulted Veach and his disciples to the forefront of the NFL’s top personnel decision-makers but did not come without skeptics and critics.

To this point in the Brett Veach era, the worst move he has made was trading up in the 2018 draft to pick Breeland Speaks. Speaks was a disaster on the field and off the field. He played one year and was never heard from again in the NFL. Other than this move, the GM has improved his draft craft each year. Specifically, Veach has proven his ability to identify great talent in the later rounds of the draft. The first player that fits this bill is L’Jarius Sneed. Sneed was drafted in the fourth round and was the 138th pick overall in the 2020 NFL draft. Sneed was not highly touted out of Louisiana Tech, and not on many draft boards across the NFL. It is safe to say that Sneed is one of the best cornerbacks to come from the 2020 draft, and has played a major role in the backend of the Chiefs’ defense the last three seasons.

These are the types of moves that Brett Veach will have to continue making if the Chiefs want to continue their ascent into NFL lore. This off-season has already produced departures that have created immediate needs for starters, specifically the offensive line. Right tackle Andrew Wylie and left tackle Orlando Brown have departed in free agency. In a Veach-like move, he has already signed Jawaan Taylor from Jacksonville, and he will play left tackle. Who will play right tackle? I don’t know, but in Veach we trust. Why not? He has been a proven commodity so far.

Another reason to trust Brett Veach is that he and his team are looking at all avenues. This includes other teams’ practice squads. Yes, Veach has struck gold in this area too! Arguably one of the best kickers in the league, Harrison Butker was poached from the Carolina practice squad in 2017. Also, Veach signed Charvarius Ward off the Dallas Cowboys practice squad in 2018. The attention to detail is unrivaled and is key to why the Chiefs’ personnel department is leading the way.

The NFL is a, “what have you done for me lately,” league, and recent success is the best way of evaluation. If this is a true statement, it was proven to be factual in Kansas City’s last draft. In the 2022 daft, the Chiefs traded up to select Trent McDuffie out of Washington. Even though the Chiefs gave up three picks to get McDuffie, it appears to be a good move as he has become a frontline starter for the secondary at cornerback. The next three picks were defensive end George Karlaftis, wide receiver Skyy Moore, and safety Brian Cook. All three were able to contribute major playing time in season one of their rookie campaigns.

Rounds three through seven are where Brett Veach showed his evaluation prowess by hitting home runs regarding the talent and where they were selected. Day two selection, Leo Chenal is a solid linebacker that was able to be on the field in year one. He has only added to the athleticism at the linebacker position which is a strength for the Chiefs. In the later rounds, the Chiefs also picked up cornerbacks Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson. Both cornerbacks played major minutes this past season and were essential to the Chiefs’ defensive improvements that helped them to the Superbowl. The true hidden gem of the draft has to be Isiah Pacheco. The seventh-round selection from Rutgers has been a phenom in his first year in the league. Pacheco’s feet remind me of Adrian Peterson, and his attitude reminds me of Earl Campbell. He has solidified himself as running back #1 for the Kansas City Chiefs and appears to be the player that will relieve pressure on offense for Patrick Mahomes.

Looking back on the moves made by AFC West teams before the start of the 2022 season, it appears that the teams trying to beat the Chiefs were trying to jump them with checkers-type moves. While Brett Veach has been looking at the personnel game through the eyes of a Grandmaster chess player. Game on! Veach is continuing his strategic ways by signing free-agent linebacker Drue Tranquill. Tranquill is a high-level linebacker that played for the Chargers last season. One person’s cap casualty is another person’s treasure. Drue will add to an already stellar linebacker core that will be even more impressive in 2023. Also, the Chiefs sign defensive lineman Charles Omenihu. Omenihu was a standout for the 49ers’ defensive line in 2022 and was a key member of their pass rush detail. With the departure of Juan Thornhill, the Chiefs have signed Tampa Bay safety, Mike Edwards. Edwards is known for being a “ball-hawk,” and signed a team-friendly deal of 1 year at $3 million.


What have the Chiefs lost? They have lost several players to the free-agent market. Some they wanted back and some they did not want back. It appears the Chiefs would have enjoyed resigning Ju Ju Smith-Schuster, but the market range was not within the plan of the Chiefs. Mecole Hardman has left to play with the New York Jets. What have the Chiefs gained? At first look, it appears they have gained a left tackle in a similar fashion they did before. Both players previously played right tackle before joining Kansas City. The difference is Taylor didn’t require a trade and appears to have a lot more upside. Also, a really good linebacker and defensive lineman are added to a Steve Spagnuolo defense that thrives on diversity. What is next for the Chiefs? Not sure! Some experts have the Chiefs trading for a #1 wide receiver in DeAndre Hopkins of the Arizona Cardinals. I would love to see that, but can we count on that? No, not 100%. The only thing we can count on is the Chiefs participating in the 2023 NFL draft, and that Brett Veach will be Brett Veach.


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