One of the themes of the 2023 NFL Draft for the Kansas City Chiefs was calculated aggressiveness, and another was versatility. Once the fourth round arrived and former Virginia Tech defensive back Chamarri Conner was still on the board, both of those elements came together. In the process, Conner became a Chief.
In an effort to move up to get Conner, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach and company sent the No. 134 pick in the draft — Kansas City’s own fourth-round pick — and a future fifth-round selection to the Minnesota Vikings. (They’d later get a 2024 fifth-round offering back when pick No. 178 was sent to the Dallas Cowboys.) This allowed the Chiefs to leapfrog double-digit clubs and get all the way up to 119th in the draft order, which became the Conner pick.
When asked on Monday afternoon via Zoom about what Kansas City saw in Conner, Veach praised his versatility and said he actually had similar value to third-round pick, offensive tackle Wanya Morris, on the team’s board. “Just a versatile defensive back,” Veach said. “He’s a guy that can play free safety, he can play down low at the strong safety position and he also has some big nickel flex. I think he’s a guy that can come down into the box and cover some athletic tight ends.
I mean, he’s a big kid, really smart. You’re talking about a two-to-three-year captain there (at Virginia Tech). Does everything the right way. We were just really excited to add him. He was one of those guys, you know, obviously, we were super high on Rashee (Rice) and we didn’t want to get too cute with him. Conner was a guy that, it was right there with him and Wanya in the third round. I was talking to his agent today and just congratulating him and the values are right there.”
Not wanting to “get too cute” was a phrase Veach used frequently throughout draft weekend in regard to trade scenarios and going after their desired prospects. That’s where the calculated aggressiveness came in, as Veach passed on Conner in round three but didn’t want to forfeit tremendous value, in his eyes, the following round. Although he took Morris over Conner, he still got the best of both worlds all within a 27-pick span.
As far as a role with the Chiefs is concerned, it appears that special teams will be Conner’s key to getting on the field as a rookie. With that said, Veach is also a fan of the multiple roles he can play on defense. The Hokies used him in a variety of ways throughout his collegiate career, which will help him at the next level. Veach pointed to a combination of things as reasons why the Chiefs were fond of him, and all of them will endear him to his position group coaches, defensive coordinator and special teams coordinator.
“I think (the reason) why you like this kid is because he’s extremely versatile,” Veach said. “He’s long, he’s athletic and he ran a 4.4 at the Combine. He has some free and safety flex. He should be a great special teams contributor from day one and at the same time I also think there’s some nickel flex, some big nickel flex, to match up with some of these athletic tight ends that these teams have throughout the league.”
The Chiefs’ safety picture was already crowded before the team added Conner into the mix, as the trio of Justin Reid, Bryan Cook and Mike Edwards was pretty much locked in as the top three. Behind them, Deon Bush re-signed in free agency and 2022 seventh-round pick Nazeeh Johnson was also set to battle for a roster spot. Conner entering the fold complicates things, but it’s reasonable to expect that his special teams ability and collegiate profile might just allow him to beat out the latter two and make the team. At any rate, though, Veach got his guy and Kansas City is excited to see what he can do over the next few weeks, months and years.