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Chiefs Receive Perfect Mark in PFF's 2021 NFL Draft Regrade

Brett Veach's 2021 draft class looks even better in retrospect.

As the Kansas City Chiefs' 2022 NFL Draft class begins to settle into its new role in the professional football world, many are still looking back at general manager Brett Veach's 2021 haul in awe. 

The Chiefs didn't have a first-round pick last year, as they sent their own (and a few other picks) to the Baltimore Ravens in exchange for left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. Kansas City, tasked with finding value and win-now talent all in the same weekend, ended up taking six players overall. Pro Football Focus initially gave the team a B-plus grade for its efforts but upon further review, that mark has been raised to a sparkling A-plus.

Mar 1, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach talks to the media during the 2022 NFL Combine. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

For not having a first-round pick and not drafting particularly valuable positions, the Chiefs still knocked it out of the park. Creed Humphrey was the highest-graded center in the NFL as a rookie. Nick Bolton was the 13th-highest-graded linebacker. Finally, Trey Smith was one of the steals of the draft in the sixth round after he earned a 72.3 overall grade at right guard in 2021.

One of the main criticisms of Veach before this year was that despite his ability to find quality players in the draft, he didn't get good enough value in relation to positional importance. That stemmed from his commitment to positions such as running back, linebacker and interior offensive line. The picks of players such as Nick Bolton, Creed Humphrey and Trey Smith certainly contributed to that cause, although their rookie results are hard to disagree with.

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In year one, Humphrey and Smith formed one of the more promising interior offensive line duos in the NFL. Humphrey was snubbed from the 2021-22 Pro Bowl, but his play was absolutely of that caliber. His athleticism, intelligence and fundamentally sound game made the Chiefs' transition to a new center a smooth one, and Smith was a great running mate as a road-grading guard who still has plenty of room to improve in pass protection.

Bolton, Kansas City's Defensive Rookie of the Year, was terrific in his first season. Between filling in for Anthony Hitchens when he missed time and even playing out of his natural position for stretches, the former Missouri Tigers standout put up great numbers. In 16 games (12 starts), he amassed 112 tackles (11 for loss) and three passes broken up. He now will take over as Steve Spagnuolo's MIKE linebacker ahead of this season.

Jan 8, 2022; Denver, Colorado, USA; Kansas City Chiefs outside linebacker Nick Bolton (54) after the game against the Denver Broncos at Empower Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Elsewhere in the draft, the Chiefs picked up a trio of lottery tickets in defensive end Joshua Kaindoh, tight end Noah Gray and wide receiver Cornell Powell. Kaindoh and Powell failed to make an impact this past season and while Gray did flash very occasionally, he has a lot left to accomplish in order to prove that he can one day be the heir to Travis Kelce's throne atop Kansas City's tight end depth chart. With that said, all three players do have clear paths to being at least marginally productive in 2022.

It's much easier to judge a draft class a year after on-field results have become available and in this case, it helped Veach and the Chiefs a pretty good amount. Kansas City's general manager has improved with each and every draft class, and his 2022 crop of talent is projected to be perhaps his best. In order to live up to last year's, though, it'll have to be near-perfect.