Veach: Best player available mentality leads Chiefs to pick of local product

Kansas State defensive lineman Felix Anudike-Uzomah runs a drill during the NCAA college...
Kansas State defensive lineman Felix Anudike-Uzomah runs a drill during the NCAA college football team's NFL Pro Day in Manhattan, Kan., Friday, March 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Reed Hoffmann)(Reed Hoffmann | AP)
Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 8:56 AM CDT
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) - The luxury of winning a Super Bowl is fewer roster holes to address in the upcoming NFL Draft. On Thursday night in Kansas City, as fans of the reigning Super Bowl champions descended upon the Union Station area and the north lawn of the World War I Museum and Memorial, they displayed some patience.

As did general manager Brett Veach. After frequently making moves in the Draft throughout his tenure as Chiefs general manager, Veach stood pat at the 31st selection on Thursday, opting not to trade up or out of the final selection of the first round. That allowed Chiefs owner Clark Hunt to stroll out to the Draft mantle in front of Union Station -- with three Lombardi trophies to his right -- and announce the Chiefs’ selection of Kansas State defensive end Felix Anudike-Uzomah.

“He was the top guy,” Veach said. “We did have some calls (about trading the pick). It’s a situation though when you have a guy that is clearly the top guy left and then you know the calls that we had were -- you’re talking mid-40s. It’s a long way away and then you’re going to end up just trading those picks to try to get back up and get a guy like Felix, so we thought let’s not get cute here.

“There’s a guy we like (at a) position that we need, and we’ll just go ahead and make the pick and certainly glad we did.”

READ MORE: Chiefs select K-State DE Felix Anudike-Uzomah with first-round pick

After the Chiefs’ previous Super Bowl win in 2020, Veach and the Chiefs stayed put at the 32nd overall selection and took running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire. During the pre-draft process this year, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes hosted workouts in Fort Worth, Texas, with TCU wide receiver Quentin Johnston and Boston College wide receiver Zay Flowers.

The Chiefs ultimately decided against trading up into a pick slot that would allow for either pass-catcher to be their selection, with Johnston going 21st to the Los Angeles Chargers and Flowers following him a pick later to the Baltimore Ravens.

“We had conversations (about trading up),” Veach said, noting that aside from a small trade-up of two slots by the Bills and Jaguars, no other trades were made in the 20s of the first round. “The price was pretty steep at the time... and the teams around were not interested in trading and then teams higher than that, the asking price was a lot. Having picks the next couple of days, having a two, a three, two fours, we still want to deal in volume here. We want to get some good players and we just thought it was best to keep those picks and have an arsenal the next few days.”

READ MORE: Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce open 2023 NFL Draft with Lombardi Trophy

Because Kansas City made 10 draft picks and found nine contributors that played during the Super Bowl LVII win over the Philadelphia Eagles, Veach said Kansas City can focus on best player available rather than positional need during this weekend’s 2023 NFL Draft.

“We’re going to set our board and our board is going to stay locked in and then we’re going to follow the board,” Veach said, “and when we get to our pick it’s pretty easy I think when you set that board and stay true to it.”

Anudike-Uzomah joins George Karlaftis as another first-round pick on the defensive line for the Chiefs. Karlaftis, a Purdue product, was selected 30th overall during the 2022 NFL Draft.

“We’ll see where he’s most comfortable, what side he’s most comfortable on,” Reid said as the Chiefs have to replace defensive end Frank Clark. “But we’ll have a nice rotation there, I think, once it’s all said and done.”

The K-State and Lee’s Summit product said his three visits to the Chiefs tipped him off of the team’s interest.

“Frank Clark is one of my favorite pass rushers watching him,” Anudike-Uzomah said. “And I was like, ‘Listen, if he left, I could definitely have input for the team.’ This is all I dreamed of.”