Andy Reid knows when Brett Veach has unearthed a prospect he really likes because the Kansas City Chiefs' bright young general manager will pepper him with information to the point of exhaustion.
Reid had a good idea Breeland Speaks would soon be on his roster.
The Chiefs traded up eight spots to select the Ole Miss pass rusher 46th overall in the NFL draft on Friday night. It was the first selection for Veach in his new role after not having a first-round choice, and one that addresses a big need in pressuring the quarterback and stopping the run.
"Brett's had his eye on him," Reid said. "He's had his eye on him all along. He was going to go after him aggressively – that's kind of the way he rolls. You've seen him operate."
Indeed, Veach has earned a reputation since taking over for the fired John Dorsey last summer that he's willing to do whatever it takes to get what he wants. And in the case of Speaks, that meant deluging Reid with information about the long, athletic and widely underrated defensive end.
"He has a tendency when he likes somebody to wear me out with that guy. He's done it with some pretty good players," Reid said with a grin. "I can always tell how much he likes somebody because he's going to let me know. So I watched every game the kid played. I didn't do that with every player."
The more Reid watched, the more he decided that Veach's crush was warranted.
He has a relentless motor. He has the ability to play inside or outside. He plays with an edge that more than once led to unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. And he has personality – just Google the clip of his fumble recovery against Mississippi State in the Egg Bowl, when he smiled and waved at the camera.
"I'm a passionate player," Speaks said. "Going to play with relentless effort, and who's basically not going to give up on any plays, man. Just a hard-working, blue-collar guy from Mississippi."
Kansas City traded the 54th and 78th picks to the Cincinnati Bengals to move up eight spots and grab the second-team All-SEC defensive lineman. The Chiefs also got the 100th overall pick in the deal.
Then, Veach again showed his aggressive streak – and the need to improve the defense – by trading the 86th and 122nd picks to the Baltimore Ravens to move up 11 spots to No. 75 and take Florida State defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi. The 6-foot-1, 320-pounder is a prototypical run-stuffer.
"I'm coming in trying to learn as much as I can," he said. "I really want to impact this team."
The Chiefs used the last pick of the third round on Dorian O'Daniel, an outside linebacker from Clemson. He was a Butkus Award finalist with the ability to drop back in coverage.
"I had no idea. I was shutting down my draft party. I was literally headed to the exit and my phone started ringing," O'Daniel said. "I can't get any happier than this."
Meanwhile, speaks was somewhat of a late bloomer. He started twice at defensive tackle as a freshman, then became a regular as a sophomore and appeared in all 12 games last season. He started at defensive tackle and finished the season at defensive end, piling up 67 tackles and seven sacks.
The Chiefs struggled to pressure the quarterback and stop the run last year, ranking toward the bottom of the league in both categories. Speaks should help to address both of those problems.
"The Chiefs are right there. They probably needed just a few more players to be that elite team," Speaks said. "I dreamed of playing with Eric Berry. I dreamed of playing with Justin Houston. To hear the Chiefs want to add me to their roster, hey, it's a dream come true."
Speaks said he spent time with the Chiefs at the NFL scouting combine and during a long pre-draft visit to Kansas City. He was peppered with football-related questions, of course, drawing comparisons to Terrell Suggs and Tamba Hali, but also about a drunken driving arrest from a couple years ago.
He was also asked about the immature antics he's sometimes displayed on the field.
"There were some issues early in my career in college, and basically just being open with those guys about it," Speaks said. "Just really trying to clear my name since those events happened, and just tried to be open and make sure you're getting a guy that made mistakes but has learned from them."