…that likely was not coming at No. 31 in the NFL Draft on Thursday night.
The Kansas City Chiefs did not pick on night one of the NFL Draft Thursday after sending their first-round pick — the No. 31 overall selection — to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for offensive lineman Orlando Brown Jr.
Baltimore also received Kansas City’s third-round pick at No. 94, one of their fourth-round picks and their fifth-round pick in 2022, while Kansas City took Baltimore’s second-rounder at No. 58.
General manager Brett Veach made the move because the Chiefs saw Brown as a perfect fit for what they were seeking at the left tackle position — and a player they would not be able to find picking that late in the draft.
“We looked at the draft,” said Veach on a Zoom media conference after round one. “Picking 31 and wanting to have a plug-and-play guy and not just a tackle — a real tackle, a Pro Bowl-caliber tackle, and I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people during this process that worked with Orlando in the past and knew Orlando, and it was very consistent with what we had on him coming out — just a high-character guy, really smart… all the things we talk about when we talk about the checked boxes for offensive linemen. Durable. The guy doesn’t miss any snaps, he’s smart. He’s tough.
“He loves the process. That’s an infectious trait, and losing some guys like (Eric) Fisher and (Mitch) Schwartz, it’s one thing to replace the athlete, but also the type of people these guys were and what they bring to a locker room. You talk about Orlando, and he has all those attributes you look for: the size, the length, the mental toughness, the durability, the leadership, so [it’s] hard to find that. These guys that you’re looking at, I mean, a lot of these guys (in the draft) you like and they have developmental upside, but I mean, we’re certainly built to win and built to win now and to have a plug-and-play guy is very hard and that’s why we couldn’t pass up that opportunity.”
Brown is expected to play out the final year of his rookie contract in 2021, with shared hope between the Chiefs and his representation that they can come to a long-term agreement next offseason.
Veach said he and Brown’s agents spoke before the Chiefs completed the trade to acquire him, so it seemed as though they are on the same page in that regard. The Chiefs also have the option to franchise tag Brown for the 2022 season if it comes to it.
“We’ll see,” noted Veach. “We have some different things that we’re working through. We had great dialogue with him and his agent before the trade, and if something got worked out, great, but they were also content on playing it out and having us have some time to work through some other stuff and then get to next offseason, and as we all know, the cap situation will probably increase, and there will be more flexibility and you can get more creative. Whether that be this year or next year, we have some time, but I think the important thing for us was there was open dialogue and both parties understood that if it couldn’t get done, we’d go into the season and try to knock it out.”
After grabbing Minnesota wide receiver Rashod Bateman at No. 27 overall, the Ravens used the No. 31 pick they obtained in the trade to take Penn State EDGE Jayson Oweh. Oweh had been a player mocked to Kansas City when they still had the pick.
Still, it did not sound as though Veach and the personnel team will lose any sleep over the selection. Left tackle was their most pressing need in the offseason, and now that Brown is a Chief, it allows them to be flexible with their two Friday picks — No. 58 and 63 overall.
“I think the benefit for us is addressing that left tackle need — that we can go in any different direction. We can go O-line, we can go D-line, we can go corner, we can safety, linebacker. So I think that’s the benefit of where we are and having those two twos, that we’re not pigeonholed into saying, ‘We need a left tackle. We have to get this taken care of.’
“Once we addressed that need and we were able to acquire another second-round pick, it really opened the entire board for us and allowed for maximum flexibility.”