KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chiefs enter this year’s draft without the excitement of a first-round pick, but that doesn’t mean general manager Brett Veach doesn’t have a few tricks up his sleeve for this week’s NFL draft.
“I know we don’t have a first round pick, but having a two and two threes and two fours, I think we’ll be able to maneuver and acquire a lot of great players,” Veach said.
The general manager’s predilection for making moves hasn’t escaped anyone’s attention, including his own staff. During the team’s mock drafts, “I think every scenario had me trading up,” Veach said.
Talk like that makes it worth while to analyze what it might cost for the Chiefs to re-enter the first round of this year’s draft.
Using the Pro Football Reference draft pick trade value chart, the Chiefs could move from No. 54 to No. 28 by trading their second-round pick this year and one of their two second-round selection next year. This year’s second, one of this year’s thirds and a third next year might also do the trick.
The most comparable recent trade came during the 2013 draft. New England sent the No. 29 selection overall to Minnesota in exchange for picks in four rounds: the second (No. 52 overall), third (No. 83), fourth (No. 102) and seventh (No. 229).
The Vikings used the first-round pick on wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. Patterson caught 132 passes for 1,316 yards during four seasons with the Vikings, but made his biggest impact on special teams where he averaged more than 30 years per return and brought back five kicks for touchdowns. After signing with the Oakland Raiders as a free agent in 2016, Patterson found himself traded this offseason to the Patriots.
The Patriots with their four picks from the Vikings acquired Pro Bowl linebacker Jamie Collins, cornerback Logan Ryan and wide receiver Josh Boyce. The Patriots packaged the seventh-round pick along with running back Jeff Demps in a deal to Tampa Bay for running back LaGarrette Blount.
Another example comes from the Chiefs themselves. In 2016, the Chiefs moved out of the first round, sending the No. 28 pick overall to the 49ers and a seventh-round pick (No. 249) in exchange for San Francisco’s selections in the second (No. 37), fourth (No. 105) and sixth (No. 178) rounds. The Chiefs would likely need to upgrade the fourth and sixth round picks to at least a third and fourth, and likely include another late round pick to move from No. 54.
The 49ers used their acquired first-round selection on guard Joshua Garnett. He played 15 games as a rookie with 11 starts but missed the entire 2017 campaign with a knee injury. The club selected cornerback Prince Charles Iworah with the sixth-round pick from Kansas City. Iworah coincidentally signed with the Chiefs this offseason as a free agent.
The Chiefs used the picks they acquired on defensive lineman Chris Jones, guard Parker Ehinger and cornerback D.J. White.
Other recent trades also required multiple picks to move up just a short distance in the late first and early second rounds. Last year Atlanta moved from No. 31 to No. 26 in selecting defensive end Takkarist McKinley. That deal sent Seattle a third- (No. 95) and seventh-round (No. 239) pick. It cost Denver the No. 31 overall pick and a third-round choice (No. 94) to move up five spots in selecting quarterback Paxton Lynch in 2016.
The Chiefs hold eight picks in this year’s draft, including five picks in the second through fourth rounds. They also hold an extra second round pick in the 2019 draft from the Marcus Peters trade with the Los Angeles Rams. The team holds the draft currency to make the move, if the player Veach covets falls down the board.
But it comes at a cost. Veach calls it a double-edge sword, trusting your instincts to acquire a player your scouting staff believes won’t be available later.
“But there’s the flip side in regards to the league is all about depth,” Veach explained, rattling off the injuries the Philadelphia Eagles sustained last year while still winning a Super Bowl.
“Where do you get those guys? You get them in the draft. You get them in all rounds, first, second, third, fourth, fifth, after the draft free agency. They are valuable because those guys will not only turn to starters, but they can turn into depth level players who will able to start and get you through a 16-game grind.”