Super Bowl champion Chiefs ready for KC to host NFL draft
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Patrick Mahomes made a bold promise to Chiefs president Mark Donovan at one point last season, knowing full well that the NFL draft would be coming to Kansas City for the first time the last weekend in April.
“I was going to make sure they say ‘World Champion Kansas City Chiefs’ whenever they announce our pick,” Mahomes said, “and I held my word to that, and I don’t know it’s ever been able to be said in the host city.”
Get ready for what could be a long party next Thursday night at Union Station.
The same place where the Chiefs ended their Super Bowl victory parade in February is the site of the draft, and the Chiefs are picking last in the first round after winning their third Lombardi Trophy. So unless they trade up — always possible given their aggressive general manager, Brett Veach — the Chiefs won’t be on the clock until the sun has long set.
It remains to be seen who will be left with a first-round grade from Veach by that point.
Or even what position the Chiefs will attack.
The Chiefs need help at offensive tackle and wide receiver, two positions hit hard by free agency departures.
“I think when you have the GM blue book it kind of says, ‘Smart in free agency and build through the draft,’ Veach said, “and I think I’ve learned over the years as you have more and more success that becomes more difficult.”
In free agency, players cost more. In the draft, the Chiefs tend to pick near the end of each round.
Yet they struck it rich in last year’s draft. Defensive back Trent McDuffie and defensive end George Karlaftis, both first-round picks, became linchpins of the defense alongside cornerbacks Josh Williams and Jaylen Watson. Second-round pick Skyy Moore had a crucial punt return in the Super Bowl, while seventh-round pick Isiah Pacheco led the Chiefs in rushing.
“We really had to slam dunk this thing from start to finish,” Veach said, “and it was one of those years a GM dreams of.”
Who are the Chiefs dreaming about this year with 10 picks overall?
If they address the offensive line with the No. 31 pick, Ohio State’s Dawand Jones and Oklahoma’s Anton Harrison are possibilities. The Chiefs have done plenty of work on Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers if they go that route. And pass rushers such as Kansas State’s Felix Anudike-Uzomah and Notre Dame’s Isaiah Foskey could be available there.
“We always try to stick to best available. It’s probably a cookie-cutter line all GMs use,” Veach said, before acknowledging: “It does become difficult sometimes when you have certain position groups that are really deep, because you do think, ‘Maybe he’s a little higher in value but there’s depth in that position, so maybe you can get something similar.’ So, it’s just working the board and really trusting your guys at the end of the day.”
Why are the Chiefs picking 31st if they have the last pick in the first round? The Dolphins had to forfeit their first-round pick for violations of the NFL anti-tampering policy, moving Kansas City up one spot in the draft order.
The Chiefs watched JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman leave in free agency, making wide receiver a priority. Two other priorities are defensive end, where the Chiefs released Frank Clark to create salary cap space, and offensive tackle, where starters Orlando Brown Jr. and Andrew Wylie signed elsewhere in free agency.
Quarterback, of course, but also Mahomes’ protectors on the interior offensive line. The Chiefs also are deep at cornerback after loading up in last year’s draft and hitting on just about all of the picks.
Travis Kelce remains the best tight end in the NFL. But he turns 34 in October, and while the Chiefs have a few developmental prospects, they need to start looking for a replacement for the four-time All-Pro.
The Chiefs would certainly cause a hometown stir by selecting Anudike-Uzomah, who was born in Kansas City and played prep football in the suburb of Lee’s Summit, Missouri, before becoming a star for Kansas State.
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