Chiefs likely to break this longtime draft trend in 2024

Mahomes eyes 3-peat with Chris Jones, Hollywood Brown (0:48)

Patrick Mahomes joins "SportsCenter" to discuss the additions of Chris Jones and Marquise "Hollywood" Brown to the Chiefs this offseason. (0:48)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- In Patrick Mahomes' first season as a starter in 2018, the Kansas City Chiefs were scoring quickly and giving up points almost as fast. General manager Brett Veach remembers urging that year's defense to get just one stop per game.

"I still remember just saying if we can just get them to punt once, we've got a shot," Veach said.

But the Chiefs needed help on defense, so Veach got to work. Since becoming general manager, Veach has made four first-round draft picks: Three of those picks were defensive players. He's made nine second-round picks since his first draft in 2018, five of them on defense.

Those investments are a big reason why the Chiefs won the Super Bowl for the third time in five years.

"Now, all of a sudden, it's like all we've got to do is score, just score once, and we're good," Veach said.

But this year's draft should be different for Veach and the Chiefs. The defense, after the Chiefs re-signed Chris Jones and five other defensive regulars, is in good shape with little in the way of positional deficiency.

It's the offense that needs the help. The Chiefs could easily draft an offensive player in the first round for the first time since 2020, when they picked running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire.

The majority of their remaining six picks could also go to the offense.

"You always want to approach every offseason by making both sides of the football better, but I think it's your process that leads you to where your roster is now," Veach said in explaining the Chiefs' recent lopsided drafts. "That chain of events of paying a quarterback a lot of money and picking late in the draft lends itself probably to more defensive players."

Despite signing veteran Marquise Brown, the Chiefs are thin at wide receiver, where uncertainty surrounds the availability of their most productive player from last season, Rashee Rice, who faces eight charges in relation to a chain-reaction car crash. The Chiefs could also use help on the offensive line, where left tackle Donovan Smith is a free agent and their top backup at the interior positions, Nick Allegretti, signed with the Washington Commanders.

If the Chiefs go heavy on offense in the draft, they would be happy with results similar to what they've had when they drafted defensive players. Recent drafts have brought key defenders like Nick Bolton, Trent McDuffie and George Karlaftis in the early rounds, and productive players like Mike Danna, Joshua Williams and Jaylen Watson in the later rounds.

"I don't think I ever envisioned having a top one or two defense," Veach said, referring to the challenge of building a roster around a highly paid quarterback. "It feels good knowing that you didn't have a lot of room for error on that side and most of the guys that you brought in through the draft, even in late rounds, most of those guys have played and produced and you can see the results."