Following a season of non-stop chaos at the offensive line position between injuries and opt-outs, Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach made it clear that solidifying the offensive front is a big part of their plan for the 2021 offseason.
Veach spoke to the media for the first time this offseason on Monday and was asked about retooling the offensive line position. He said it's his philosophy to bulk up the interiors of both sides of the ball and go from there.
“I think just the general football 101 is, get a quarterback and then build through the offensive and defensive lines," Veach said. "At the same time, the reality of it is how the draft flows and what’s available to you. You have to make good decisions and not overdraft or go in different directions, so when you talk about again just that 101 philosophy about once you secure a quarterback you want to build through the offensive line."
The Chiefs offensive line was decimated by COVID-19 opt-outs and injuries in 2020. To start the season, Kansas City had signed some veteran journeymen to fill some depth holes, but as the injuries kept coming, the depth pieces had to play a significant role on the team.
From last year's unit, the Chiefs have several players hitting the free-agent market with guard Kelechi Osemele, guard Stefen Wisniewski, center Daniel Kilgore, starting center Austin Reiter and tackle Mike Remmers. Additionally, starting guard Andrew Wylie is a restricted free agent.
With the 2021 NFL Draft quickly approaching and the offensive line class looking deep, Veach talked about the selection of 2020 third-round pick Lucas Niang. The TCU tackle was a target for the Chiefs, and this season Veach said he is keeping his mind on the offensive line as a priority.
"Last year when Lucas was there in the third round, certainly that was a guy that we made it a priority to go get," Veach said. "I would say in years past, whether that be not having a first-round pick or not having the o-linemen that you wanted [...] available for when you’re picking probably had something to do with that. But it’s certainly one of those things that you don’t ever go into an offseason or a draft and not keep having your mind that one of the priorities is to continually invest in the offensive line."
Since he took over as general manager, Veach has only selected two offensive linemen in his three drafts at the helm. Niang has been his highest-selected lineman while his other pick, Nick Allegretti, came in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
With that, Veach explained the lack of selections of big men depended on how the players went before their picks and said more resources could be heading into the offensive front.
"That’s probably why, again when you think about the last few drafts, the players have to be in those ranges — in your mind, you don’t want to draft a fifth-round lineman in the third round and you want to have that value representative in regards to what round you’re picking in," Veach said. "So, I would say a lot of it had to do with maybe just where the picks fell in each round, what was available to us in free agency. Again, I think you saw that amount of effort and resources put into the defensive line. But I think in general your philosophy is always to build up front and I’m sure we’ll do that this offseason.”
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