KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach is arguably one of if not the most influential part of the NFL Draft for the team.
He sat down with KSHB 41 anchor DiaWall ahead of the big event to talk about everything from positions he's targeting to why his personnel staff would make for a great Netflix series.
Here's part of their conversation.
Dia: What does your life look like the minute the Chiefs win the Super Bowl and the parade's happened? Then what?
Brett: "That's where the fun ends and the work begins for sure. It was quite the grind. I remember having the parade and staying up late watching all the video highlights of the parade and kind of just thinking back on the whole experience and how great it was. Then you're up the next day at 7 a.m. and you're in there with your scouting staff and you're preparing for the combine. Parade, to combine meetings, to combine, and then you get back and you're right into free agency."
Dia: What are the biggest things that you look for in a prospect? How many prospects are you evaluating?
Brett: "Well, shoot, hundreds and hundreds. Every year it kind of varies a little bit on our draft board. I think last year we had 215 guys on our draft board. I think we do a good job of working to lower that number and to make it quality over quantity. I think the number is down to 200 now but, that's a process that started at probably 500, 600, 700 to 800 names and you're working these names down and you're eliminating guys until you get to about 200 prospect list of names on the board."
Dia: What catches your eye?
Brett: I think what catches the evaluator's eye is maybe different than maybe the coaches eye. We're always going to be looking for the athletic traits, the height, the weight, the speed, the movement skills. The coaches want to know first about the player.
I think that's the art of scouting is just combining those two concepts together. Guys that obviously have the physical attributes to play and be successful in this league, but also guys who at the end of the day, just truly love to play the game. They're smart players; They care about everybody and they're good for the community."
Dia: The legend of Patrick Mahomes Draft day has evolved, I've heard 50 versions of this story. I'm here with the man. I want to hear it myself.
Brett: "Well listen, I joke with people at times every now and again you get a little bit lucky, I guess and just a guy we liked for a long time. I had the opportunity to go down there and do some work at Texas Tech and kind of fell in love with the kid as a prospect early and you know, I'm not shy in regard to letting coach know how I feel about things and kind of wore him out for a few years and..."
Dia: A few years, Brett?
Brett: "Yea, a few years and it was just one of those situations where it worked out but I think all of us from Clark to Andy to myself, I don't know if any of us in our mind thought it would be this big. I mean, he's a global icon now. He's not just one of the faces of the NFL, he's one of the faces of sports in general, phenomenal human being and for how talented he is on the field, you couldn't have a guy who's more caring about off-the-field work.
The amount of time he dedicates to things away from the field is just phenomenal. Every now and then you have to pinch yourself. Maybe I'll do it once we break this interview."
Dia: I know you're not going to tell me, but what's your game plan? Are there any positions in particular that you're targeting?
Brett: "Listen, I'll tell you. I think other than quarterback, I think you're always looking to upgrade your team but I would say that Kansas City Chiefs fans are smart and they follow our team and they know everything about us. It makes sense, you're going to be looking offensive line, defensive line and receiver in some sort of combination.
Now, where we go with what pick first, you don't know but I think hopefully there will be one of those positions there. Can always use corners too so, I feel good. We've got a good linebacking crew and some good safeties but O-line, D-line, receiver, corner. I'm sure that... now it's just a matter which player falls and who you feel best about."
Dia: You're known to wheel and deal and move around the board. Has Mr. Hunt threatened you that you cannot trade out of the first round?
Brett: "Well, I was joking in the pre-draft presser that he did say that last year. Now, was he really joking? I do think there's a little bit of seriousness in there, but I think it was more on the lines of he wants to be a participant day one. So, we're here. Even if we trade out, we're still a participant in day one. So, that could happen."
Dia: Brett Veach, are you telling me that you could trade out of the first round with the first NFL Draft in Kansas City history?
Brett: "I'm saying that, if we did trade out, it would give the fans more excitement to come back day two and watch us do some more work."
Dia: I asked to go in the magical draft room. They said it's getting set up and we can't see it. I understand but I want to know what the personalities are like in the room on draft day once the draft is open.
Brett: "Draft day is just a little... it'd be disappointing. I say that because, look this is a good problem to have because we've been so good we pick so late. When the draft starts, we're probably out there - some of us aren't even in the draft room for the first 10 picks because I think we kind of know who the picks are. We're not going to be sitting there worried about where the quarterbacks go.
So we'll be out there talking to agents and talking to scouts and just kind of going through where we think guys are going to go but it doesn't really tense up until you get about 10 picks away, 15 picks away, and then you know it tenses up. I think you would enjoy, and you'll have to do this one day, come swing by during the pre-draft process.
We have a lot of fun in there. We poke fun at each other and we always joke that if Netflix did a behind the scene series on a personnel staff, I think our staff with our personalities there... I think the ratings would be pretty good there because I think they'd be surprised by the amount of fun we have in there. I wouldn't say we're goofing around because at the end of the day, we're doing a lot of good work but, we spend so much time with each other it's ridiculous."
Dia: When the draft ends, what do you feel like? What does your team feel like?
Brett: "We're excited and I think then it's wanting to get these guys in here and get them the playbook as soon as possible. I think the really cool part is after the draft ends, the rookies get to come in here and have rookie mini camp and we get to see them for the first time in a Chiefs uniform. That's always cool.
Then the really cool part is when the vets come for the mandatory OTAs and you get to see the new guys and the young guys and it's always cool to see those young guys, the look in their eyes when they see Pat or Kelce the first time, it kind of brings them back to like a high school moment again. They're seeing their legends that they've grown up watching so that's always a pretty cool experience."
Dia: Chiefs Kingdom literally has a saying, "In Veach We Trust." First, do you have the t-shirt? How does that make you feel?
Brett: "I'm not going to lie, I would never wear one because it's a little bit... I don't like to think I'm egotistical in any way but, my family and friends have a couple of them and I get a little embarassed when they wear them if we're going out. I make them wear them around the house, but I am aware and I have one. I haven't worn one because I think that's putting me out there. I don't like to be put out there. I like to do more behind the scenes and less out in the public there."
Dia: That's got to be pretty special though. I mean for the fans to have a relationship in their mind with you.
Brett: "Yea and hopefully we can keep it special so hopefully I can keep bringing good players here and we can keep producing good rosters here so they keep that support. They're great. It's like any fan base. They want to see their team do well and they want to see their team acquire good players and I think we all feel that. At the end of the day, we're all fans. We all grew up fans, so we're all there.
We're all in different positions but at the end of the day, we still have that passion and that need to want to see your team do good and bring good players in. At the end of the day, you can relate to everybody because you are everybody."
Dia: What's more special for you: when the Chiefs are playing in the Super Bowl or when you feel like you have a draft, a really good one.
Brett: "Oh the Super Bowl. That's what we do it for. It's one of those things where like, I always thought when I got in this business if I had a chance to play and win a Super Bowl, you'd kind of always have that in the back of your mind and that would always ease the tension but those moments are so special it's the exact opposite of what I thought. I thought if you won a Super Bowl, it was all downhill and everything else was gravy or icing on the cake but it is so magical, so special, unites so many people together and the memories are just, just legendary.
Then you realize that nothing is like that and so it's that constant drive and desire to get back there again because you know how special it is. It actually makes the job a lot more tense and pressure filled. Winning only adds to the pressure. I thought winning would lessen the pressure but winning only adds to it."
Dia: "There's going to be a group of young men who you get to pick up the phone and call and change their lives. First, what is that experience like? Second, what would your message be to the newest members of the Kansas City Chiefs?"
Brett: "First the message would just be congratulations, welcome to the Kingdom. Enjoy the ride. It is really cool, nowadays, everything is video taped and recorded, I always go back and watch the Isaiah Pacheco in the 7th round and you see him, they were at a bar I think. So many family members were there and just to see that emotion of a guy that was drafted 7th round and just know it's a life changing moment.
To be part of something that is a life changing moment for not just that individual but all the people that helped them along the way and to have some small part in that on draft day is really cool and it's really special. I'm just glad it's all taped and recorded because, if there's one thing I always go back and do with our old college, former college draft picks, I always go back and look back at the Nick Bolton videos and the Creed Humphrey videos and the Isaiah Pacheco videos and the Mahomes one, it's played every year so we get to relive that one every year.
I think that call and capturing that moment and being a small part of that moment is super special."