The Kansas City Chiefs entered the 2021 NFL Draft with a clear need for a third option in the passing attack. Travis Kelce and Tryeek Hill are two of the best at their respective position, but the options behind those elite weapons leave a lot to be desired. Kansas City didn’t draft a wide receiver until the sixth round, but their next great offensive weapon could be rookie tight end Noah Gray, at least if Brett Veach is to be believed.
Brett Veach: Noah Gray A “Unique” Weapon, Depth Never Been More Important
Speaking to reporters after the NFL Draft, General Manager Brett Veach discussed his decision to trade up in the fifth round and select Duke tight end Noah Gray. Saying that the team “took a liking” to him early on in the process, Veach said that he would have traded up earlier had the team had more draft capital. Instead, he had to hope his guy would slip and pulled the trigger as soon as he could.
“[W]e quickly looked at the board and we knew that we wouldn’t be able to get up all that high, so once we got into that range…we were going to be aggressive, so we just had to wait.” Veach added that he had two different deals in place, so he was clearly all-in on making sure Gray found his way to Kansas City.
In what Veach described as a not “super deep” tight end class, Gray stood apart from the other late-round options. According to the General Manager, Gray stood out as a “really unique inside slot receiver, H-back, fullback.” Veach also added that the Gray selection will ease the pain if Travis Kelce goes down to injury, although he was clear that there is only one Travis Kelce. Obviously, Veach does not believe that Gray can be a one-for-one replacement for arguably the best tight end in the league, but he did point out that they have similar skill sets.
17th Game Makes Depth A Priority
The Kansas City Chiefs made it all the way to the Super Bowl, but fell short of their ultimate goal thanks in large part to injuries depleting the offensive line. Veach entered the 2021 offseason looking to improve the depth throughout the roster, especially with a 17th game on the horizon.
“[The 17th game] just puts more emphasis on what we already know, and that’s just about all the attrition…we saw it last year, if you can’t make it to the end and you don’t have enough depth, it’s certainly going to come into play”.
This is more than just talk for Veach, as he clearly put a lot of effort into making sure the depth issue doesn’t come up again. Based on his earlier comments, Gray appears to be a worst-case fill-in for Travis Kelce, but his best work came on the offensive line. Over the course of the past few months, Veach replaced a solid-but-shallow offensive line with Orlando Brown Jr., Joe Thuney, Creed Humphrey, Kyle Long, and Mike Remmers, while also bringing back 2020 third-round pick Lucas Niang from the opt-out list.