When you are the goalie for 12 picks in the NFL Draft (as the Kansas City Chiefs were when the first round opened Thursday night), it’s almost impossible to imagine and play all angles. 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 choice, it’s fun because every year we go through what we think [is] all sorts of scenarios and we did not go over McDuffie’s scenario, ”laughed Veach during his press conference after round 1.
The “McDuffie scenario”, as the general manager described it, was Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie, who dropped to his 20s – and to be exact, to pick No. 21. Before the draft began, Veach had revealed that Kansas City’s human resources department had identified 18 true first round players. McDuffie was one of them.
When he thought a player of his caliber would not be 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’ll do it for a guy you have in it [first-round] reach so we were able to do it, ”Veach said. “I think the fact that we were aggressive to some degree shows [and] tipped your hand a little about what you thought of McDuffie. We certainly thought he was one of those players and that’s why we took that step. ”
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 is huge,” said McDuffie, speaking to local Kansas City via the Zoom medium 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 everyone was there, everyone who supported me growing up through my football career could come and enjoy this moment with me.When I got the call, I saw the Kansas City Chiefs and I thought, ‘Stop it now. me step out. ‘ I’m talking to Coach Reid, talking to Spagnuolo, talking to the Hunt family, and all of a sudden my family starts screaming. And I say, ‘Stop it. What am I missing here? What’s going on?’ I run inside and of course my name appeared on the screen and everyone started screaming.
“I thought, ‘Give me a moment, coach. This may take a minute or two. When I get a chance to talk to you, I’ll let you know.’ Honestly, it was just such an exciting moment – just being able to spend that time with my family, so it was great to be a part of it. ”
Veach confirmed that the Chiefs never had McDuffie visit Kansas City, simply because when it comes to some prospects, it is not necessary. McDuffie said the Chiefs hosted him for an informal interview on Scouting Combine, but that was it.
This team saw no chance he would be there near election number 29 … or even in the interval 29.
“I think we were bound to be selectively aggressive, and if a player like a Trent McDuffie was there, ‘Hey, let’s take a step and pick him up, because he’s really good,’ Veach said. “probably would not have been there as a 29-year-old. We were surprised he was there when we chose him with the New England election, but I think it was our mindset that went in and we just followed the plan.”
The Buffalo Bills were selected as No. 25, and Veach felt the Chiefs should get ahead of them if they were to secure McDuffie.
“[Derek] Stingley and sauce [Gardner] went high and we had a grouping of corners there, ”Veach started. Just knowing some of the needs of the team that were directly in front of us and I think Buffalo took a corner shortly after and I also think he swapped a spot. ”
The Bills originally had No. 25, but swapped up to 23 to take Florida’s Kaiir Elam.
“We knew it was coming,” Veach explained. “We had called teams – I believe in the election before and the election after – from the New England industry, just to put ourselves in the position. The way the board fell and knew we were choosing really late in this 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 to take that step. ”
Models 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 the pressure on that aspect did not seem so worrying to head coach Andy Reid.
“He’s big enough and he’s played against big receivers and done a good job,” Reid said. “We thought his size was fine there.”
As a three-year-old starter in Washington, McDuffie collected 94 tackles (71 solos), with eight passes defended, including two interceptions. McDuffie, who himself was described as a defensive back, more than just a cornerback, made a name during his first media chat that most Chiefs fans would be very familiar with.
“I almost see myself as a Tyrann Mathieu type guy,” he said of the 5-foot-9 All-Pro, “one who will be able to go in and just play a lot of different positions and just help. the team, but I can. It’s a big thing for me to move forward, it’s just going in there with the mindset of, ‘But I can get on the field – but I can help this team’, then I will do everything, what I can do to do that, so I know this organization has a great defensive mindset, so honestly, very excited to be a part of this team. ”
McDuffie had modeled his football career based on the former Chief since the days he saw him as a college player.
“Growing up, shooting, watching Tyrann Mathieu at LSU – he was one of those guys where he was not the greatest,” McDuffie continued. “[Mathieu] was not the fastest, but he always had to make a play. And that’s something I’m always trying to do in my game – just to be the person who wants to blink at the screen. You know? Just be the guy who is always around football because I am a football player and I want to create the best opportunities for my team. So just seeing Tyrann Mathieu and seeing how he became a leader, how he practices, how he plays games – just the perseverance and heart he gave is something I can look at and try to model my game after. ”
The Mathieu-like aspect of his play must have been translated into the film.
“Trent is a guy who can come in here day 1,” Veach said. “He’s connected the right way, extreme knowledge of the game, three-year-old player, three-year-old starter, and that was definitely a position we wanted to tackle.”
McDuffie joins a cornerback who lost Charvarius Ward to the San Francisco 49ers this offseason – and therefore definitely needs more depth. With the second-best corner kicks 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 Chiefs’ expectation.
Given 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 voices on the other line was defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo.
“He just pretty much said to me, of course, ‘Congratulations. Glad to have [you]. ” McDuffie remembered. “We did not talk too much because – of course – the night was going crazy. But I look forward to meeting him [Friday]. I’m excited to sit down, start learning this defense, start learning about how I can help the team. And I mean, go ahead, shoot. I’m ready to leave tomorrow … I’m just ready to play football at this point.
“The draft is finally done, I finally have the team, so I’m ready to just jump out there, take the team and start building those ties.”