KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Just about everyone knew the Kansas City Chiefs were going to address their offensive line through the NFL draft.
Nobody quite expected them to do it a week before it even started.
The Chiefs plugged the biggest hole remaining on their AFC champion roster Friday when they acquired two-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle Orlando Brown from the Ravens for a package of draft picks, including the No. 31 overall selection this year.
The Ravens announced the trade, which is pending a physical. ESPN.com was first to report the terms.
The Ravens will get the No. 31 overall pick Thursday night, along with third- and fourth-round picks this year and a fifth-round pick next year. The Chiefs will get the Ravens’ second-round pick next week and a sixth-rounder in 2022.
“Teams continually tweak and update and revise that board, knowing where they can attack it,” Chiefs general manager Brett Veach said during a zoom call earlier Friday. “I think that mid-two-to-early-three area is going to be a hot zone.”
Turns out that depth later in the draft was one of the reasons he was willing to let go of the No. 31 pick.
“There’s been dialogue with various teams, we have a couple things on our radar, but nothing right now that were ready to move on,” Veach said with his best poker face about four hours before the trade was completed.
The Chiefs have spent the offseason rebuilding an offensive line that was decimated by opt-outs and injuries by the end of last season, when they were dominated up front by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a Super Bowl rout. But most of the work in free agency had been along the interior of the line, leaving both offensive tackle jobs up for grabs.
The Chiefs released left tackle Eric Fisher and right tackle Mitchell Schwartz, both of whom had surgery for season-ending injuries, to save space under the salary cap. And that left many to assume they would draft an offensive tackle at No. 31.
Despite a draft deep at the position, the Chiefs decided to trade that selection among others for a sure thing.
The 24-year-old Brown, a third-round pick of the Ravens in 2018, has started 42 games and appeared in all 16 each of the past three seasons. He played on the right side his first two seasons but moved to the left following an injury to Ronnie Stanley midway through last season, and did not allow a sack in about 700 snaps at that position.
The acquisition turned out to be a nice backup plan after the Chiefs made a strong offer to Trent Williams in free agency. Williams chose to return to the San Francisco 49ers instead of signing with Kansas City.
Either way, the Chiefs were poised to enter the season with an entirely new offensive line protecting Patrick Mahomes.
They signed standout Patriots guard Joe Thuney in free agency, lured former All-Pro Kyle Long — who could play offensive guard or tackle —out of an injury-induced retirement and signed Austin Blythe to take over at center.
They also plan to have third-round pick Lucas Niang, who opted out of his rookie season, and veteran Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, who likewise opted out of last season so the trained physician could help COVID-19 patients in his native Canada.
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