Cost is high if Chiefs want to get back into first round

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kansas City Chiefs don't have a first-round pick as the draft nears, but that doesn't necessary mean the round will conclude without the team getting a player.

General manager Brett Veach said the Chiefs, who traded their No. 1 pick last year to the Buffalo Bills so they could pick quarterback Patrick Mahomes II, would try to move back into the first round if the situation is right.

"That's the great part about the draft," Veach said. "You never really know how everything is going to play out. Sometimes you think, 'Yeah, this guy is going top 15 all day,' and then you look up and you're at pick 28 and the guy's on the board.

"It's our job to be prepared. Maybe it doesn't make sense for us. Maybe the equity is too much. Maybe you don't want to give up two, three picks to get all the way up there. We have to have dialogue throughout this process. That's why we've started calling teams now and letting them know we're open for business."

As Veach suggested, there's a cost to moving up. The Chiefs' first pick is in the second round, No. 54 overall. The NFL's draft trade chart suggests that for the Chiefs to move to, say, No. 28, fair value would be that 54th pick plus one of Kansas City's two third-round choices and then another, later selection as well.

The Chiefs, who have eight picks overall, can't afford to part with many of them if they want to cover all of their depth-chart needs. They could use help at all levels of their defense. Acquiring a pass-catching tight end would be a good idea. They could also use a versatile and developmental offensive lineman.

That doesn't mean they won't make a move into the first round. A move higher in the second round makes more sense.

"It's hard when you do believe in the process and you do believe in your ability to evaluate and you know if a guy slides, this may be the only opportunity that you have to get that guy at that caliber because, once he goes off the board, you won't find someone who has those exact traits," Veach said.

"There’s a flip side. ... The league is all about depth. The Philadelphia Eagles showed last year ... you lose a quarterback, you lose a tackle, you lose a running back, you lose a starting [middle] linebacker. Well, they had depth. Where do you get those guys? You get them in the draft in all rounds."

The situation worked out well for the Chiefs the last time they didn't make a first-round choice, in 2016. Then, they traded back into early in the second round and came away with a lineman, Chris Jones, who is one of their better defensive players.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. suggested several players who could reasonably be available at the 54th pick and could be a good fit for the Chiefs.

"If they're just going for best players, we have them taking Lorenzo Carter, the outside linebacker from Georgia," Kiper said, referring to a recent mock draft by fellow ESPN analyst Todd McShay. "He's an interesting guy, kind of an enigma. He wasn't as dominant as his talent indicates he should be, but he plays hard. He's the kind of guy that if the light goes on ..."

Kiper also mentioned another outside linebacker, Uchenna Nwosu of USC; a pair of safeties, Ronnie Harrison of Alabama and Jessie Bates of Wake Forest; and running back Nick Chubb of Georgia.

The Chiefs won't be in the market, at least not that early in the draft, for a running back after selecting Kareem Hunt last year. Hunt led the NFL in rushing as a rookie.