When you’re the keeper of 12 picks in the NFL Draft (like the Kansas City Chiefs opened the first round on Thursday night), it’s almost impossible to imagine and play out at every angle. Led by general manager Brett Veach, the Chiefs tried to do just that.
As it turned out, they failed. And that was a very good thing.
“With our first pick, it’s funny because, every year, we go through what we think [is] Every scenario is possible, and we didn’t go over McDuffie’s scenario, “laughed Veach during his post-Round 1 press conference.
The “McDuffie scenario,” as the general manager described it, was Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie’s fall of the 20s – and to be exact, the pick no. 21. Before the draft began, Veach had revealed that Kansas City’s personnel department had identified 18 true first-round players. McDuffie was one of them.
Believing that a player of his caliber wasn’t available at pick 29, Veach called the New England Patriots, who were willing to swap 21 for 29, one of the Chiefs’ two third-rounders and one of their fourth-rounders. Veach drafted his guy.
“When you make a move, you’re going to do that for a guy that you have in that [first-round] range, so we were able to do that, “said Veach. “I think the fact that we were aggressive to some degree shows [and] Kind of tipped on your hand what you thought of McDuffie. We definitely thought he was one of those players, and that’s why we made that move. ”
Veach called the 21-year-old to inform him of the good news. It was more than just the player waiting to hear it.
“My family’s huge,” said McDuffie, speaking to the local Kansas City via Zoom media after Round 1. “I feel like we’re the closest family ever, so during the draft, I wanted to make sure my aunts, my uncles, My grandparents – just everybody was there, everybody who supported me growing up throughout my football career was able to come and enjoy this moment with me. When I got the call, I saw the Kansas City Chiefs, and I was like, ‘Hold on. Let me step out. ‘ Talking to coach Reid, talking to Spagnuolo, talking to the Hunt family, and all of a sudden my family starts screaming. And I’m like, ‘Hold on. What am I missing here? What’s going on? ‘ I run inside and of course, my name popped up on the screen, and everybody started screaming.
“I was like, ‘Give me a second, coach. This might take a minute or two. When I get to talk to y’all, I ‘ll let you know.’ Honestly, it was just such an exhilarating moment – just being able to spend that time with my family, so it was awesome to be a part of that. ”
Veach confirmed that the Chiefs have never had a visit to Kansas City for McDuffie simply because when it comes to some prospects, it is not necessary. McDuffie said the Chiefs hosted an informal interview for him at the Scouting Combine, but that was it.
This team saw no chance that he’d be there near pick number 29 … or even in the range of 29.
“I think we were committed to being selectively aggressive, and if a player like Trent McDuffie was there, ‘Hey, let’s make a move and get him because he’s really good,'” said Veach. “Probably not there at 29. We were surprised he was there when we selected him with New England’s pick, but I think our mindset was going in, and we just followed the plan.”
The Buffalo Bills were slotted to pick at no. 25, and Veach felt the Chiefs would have gotten ahead of them if they were safe McDuffie.
“[Derek] Stingley and Sauce [Gardner] went high, and we had a grouping of corners there, “started Veach. Just knowing some of the team needs that were directly in front of us, and I believe Buffalo did take a corner shortly afterwards, and I believe traded up a spot, too. ”
The Bills originally had the No. 25 pick but swapped up to 23 to take Florida’s Kaiir Elam.
“We knew that was coming,” explained Veach. “We had called teams – I believe before the pick and after the pick – of the New England trade, just to put themselves in the position. The way the board was falling and knowing that we were picking real late in the draft here, and the odds of a guy like McDuffie being 21, let alone 29, were very low, so we just thought it was the right time. make that move. ”
Modeling his game after a familiar name
McDuffie comes in at 5 feet 11 and 193 pounds, which some would say is average or a bit undersized for a first-round cornerback. But pressed about that aspect, head coach Andy Reid didn’t seem all that worried.
“He’s got enough size, and he’s played against big receivers and done a nice job,” Reid said. “We thought his size was fine there.”
As a three-year starter at Washington, McDuffie compiled 94 tackles (71 solo), with eight passes defensed, including two interceptions. Self-described as more of a defensive back than simply a cornerback, McDuffie uttered a name during his first media chat that most Chiefs fans would wind up familiar with.
“I look at myself almost like a Tyrann Mathieu type guy,” he said of the 5-foot-9 All-Pro, “who’s going to be able to go in and just play a bunch of different positions and just help out. the team however I can. That’s a big thing for me moving forward, just going in there with the mindset of, ‘Although I can get on the field – however I can help out this team,’ I’m going to do everything that I can to do it. , so I know this organization has a great defensive mindset, so honestly, very excited to be a part of this team. ”
McDuffie has been modeling his football career off of the former Chief since he watched him as a college player.
“Growing up, shooting, watching Tyrann Mathieu at LSU – he was one of those dudes where he wasn’t the biggest,” continued McDuffie. “[Mathieu] Wasn’t the fastest, but he was always going to make a play. And that’s something that I always try to do in my game – just be the person that is going to flash on the screen. You know? Just be that guy who’s always around the football because I’m a football player, and I want to create the best opportunities for my team. So just watching Tyrann Mathieu and watching how he became a leader, how he practices, how he plays games – just the tenacity and the heart that he gave is something that I can look at and try to model after my game. ”
The Mathieu-like aspect of his game must be translated to the film.
“Trent’s a guy that can come in here on Day 1,” Veach said. “He’s wired the right way, has the extreme knowledge of the game, three-year player, three-year starter, and it was definitely a position that we wanted to address.”
McDuffie joins a cornerback room that lost Charvarius Ward to the San Francisco 49ers this offseason – and thus, is definitely in need of more depth. With the next-best corners after L’Jarius Sneed being Rashad Fenton and Deandre Baker, a rookie starting as an outside corner on Day 1 sounds like it could be the Chiefs’ expectation.
Considering the lack of previous communication with the Chiefs, it all came as a bit of a surprise to McDuffie. Still, the call was well-received.
“When I got that phone call, it was like, ‘Whoa! Kansas City? This is dope. ‘”
One of the other line on the voices was defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
“He just pretty much told me, of course, ‘Congratulations. Happy to have [you]. ‘”Recalled McDuffie. “We didn’t talk too much because – of course – the night was going crazy. But I’m excited to go meet him [Friday]General Chat Chat Lounge I’m excited to sit down, start learning about this defense, start learning about how I can help the team. And I mean, moving forward, shoot. I’m ready to go tomorrow … I’m just ready to play football at this point.
“The draft’s finally done, I’m finally on the team, so I’m ready to just jump out there, get on the team and start building those bonds.”