Countdown: The Kansas City Chiefs top 1st-round NFL Draft Picks
With the the 2017 NFL draft coming up, we decided to take a look at and rank the top picks by the Kansas City Chiefs round by round, and this is easily the toughest with so many of the greatest Chiefs’ players taken in the first round. We are ranking this based on their time in Kansas City, not their overall career, and the impact they have had on the franchise. This also includes picks they had while in the AFL and the team’s brief time as the Dallas Texans. With all that said, here’s our list of the top first-round draft picks by the Kansas City Chiefs.
#10: Larry Johnson
Running Back, Penn State, 27th pick of the 2003 NFL draft, Played for KC 2003-09
In 2005 and 2006, Larry Johnson was one of the best running backs in the league. In those seasons, Johnson had a total of 3,539 rushing yards and 37 rushing touchdowns and named the team’s MVP. His 2006 season was a record-setter, setting a new franchise record with 1,789 rushing yards and a new NFL record of 416 carries. On top of that, Johnson holds the franchise record for most career carries(1,375), games with over 100 rushing yards(30), and third in career rushing yards(6,015). While his success only lasted from 2004-09, Chiefs’ fans got to see Johnson in his prime in his seven years in KC before he floated around the NFL, playing for three other teams.
#9: Art Still
Defensive End, Kentucky, 2nd pick of the 1978 NFL draft, Played for KC 1978-87
Art Still made an immediate impact for the Chiefs, becoming a starter in his rookie year and was named to the 1978 All-Rookie team. In his 10 seasons as a Chief, Still was a 4-time Pro Bowler and a two-time second-team All-Pro. He also currently sits at seventh place in the Chiefs’ all-time sack leaders list with 42.5 sacks, lead the team in sacks in six seasons, and lead the team in tackles three times. On top of all the other accolades, Still was voted team MVP in 1980 and 1984 and inducted to the Chiefs’ Hall of Fame in 1998.
#8: Tamba Hali
Outside Linebacker/Defensive End, Penn State, 20th pick of the 2006 NFL draft, Played for KC 2006-present
Ever since the Chiefs drafted Tamba Hali, the “TambaHawk” has been making a huge impact on the Kansas City defense. Hali started his career on the NFL All-Rookie team and has consistently had a presence in the pass rush. In his 11 seasons in Kansas City, Hali has 89.5 sacks and double-digit sacks in a season three times, putting him second on the Chiefs’ all-time sack leaders, and he’s tenth in franchise all-time tackles with 452. Hali also made five straight Pro Bowls from 2011-15 and a two-time second team All-Pro in 2011 and 2013. Even though he’s 33, he has more time to continue adding to those numbers on the tail-end of his career in KC.
#7: Derrick Johnson
Inside/Outside Linebacker, Texas, 15th pick of the 2005 NFL draft, Played for KC 2005-present
Derrick Johnson has been a mainstay in the Chiefs defense ever since he was drafted, starting every game his rookie season. With over a thousand combined tackles in his career, Johnson has consistently making an impact on the Chiefs defense, with 90-plus tackles in 8 of his 12 seasons and the franchise leader in career solo tackles (890) and combined tackles (1,080). Through all this success, Johnson has been named to four Pro Bowls and twice an All-Pro, first-team in 2011 and second-team in 2013. Similar to Hali, Johnson is on the tail-end of his career at the age of 34 and has put together a great career being a Chief.
#6: Buck Buchanan
Defensive Tackle, Grambling College, 1st pick of the 1963 AFL draft, Played for KC 1963-75
Being drafted first overall, Buck Buchanan became the first African-American player to be a first overall pick. During his 13-year career, Buchanan helped establish the dominant defensive line that helped the Chiefs win Super Bowl IV against the Vikings. Along with a Super Bowl ring, Buchanan was also a 6-time first-team All-AFL from 1964-69 and a two-time Pro Bowler from 1970-71. From this illustrious career, he was also named to the AFL All-Time Team, inducted to the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 1981 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990, and had his number 86 retired by the Chiefs in 1999.
#5: Eric Berry
Safety, Tennessee, 5th pick of the 2010 NFL draft, Played for KC 2010-present
On his way to a possible Hall of Fame career, Eric Berry has established himself as one of the top safeties in the league. So far in his career, Berry has been named a Pro Bowler five times and first team All-Pro three times, and he even holds the franchise record for most tackles in a game with 14 and currently number 12 in career tackles in franchise history (367). Berry has become the heart, soul, and face of the Chiefs after winning the fight against Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2014 and come back even stronger than before. After signing a new six-year contract, fans are hoping he will finish his career as a Chief and have a bust waiting for him in Canton after he retires.
#4: Ed Budde
Guard, Michigan State, 8th pick of the 1963 AFL draft, Played for KC 1963-76
Taken in the same draft as Buck Buchanan, Ed Budde had just as much impact on the other side of the line for the Chiefs. Budde played a huge role in three championship wins for the Chiefs, two AFL championships and Super Bowl IV. In his 14 seasons in Kansas City, Budde made seven Pro Bowls and named to the All-AFL three times. By the end of his career, Budde was voted to the All-Time AFL team and inducted to the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 1984.
#3: Neil Smith
Defensive End, Nebraska, 2nd pick of the 1988 NFL draft, Played for KC 1988-96
Neil Smith played the majority of his 13-year career in Kansas City, spending the first 9 seasons as a Chief, then 3 seasons in Denver and his final season in San Diego. In his time in Kansas City, Smith went to 5-straight Pro Bowls from 1991-95, lead the league in sacks in 1993 with 15, and made the All-Pro team three times, a first-teamer in 1993 and a second-teamer in 1992 and 1995. By the end of his career, Smith was named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, made the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2006, and currently sits at third on the Chiefs all-time sack list (85.5) and sixth in tackles (503).
#2: Tony Gonzalez
Tight End, California, 13th pick of the 1997 NFL draft, Played for KC 1997-2008
Tony Gonzalez is arguably the best tight-end in NFL history and one of the best receivers ever. He also revolutionized his position, making tight-ends a bigger offensive threat in the passing game. Gonzalez spent 12 of 17 years of his career in Kansas City and shattered all kinds of records during that time. “Tony-G” holds nearly every major Chiefs’ receiving record, such as most catches in a game (14), catches in a season(102), and career receptions (916), receiving yards(10,940), games with over 100 yards (26), 1,000-yard seasons (4), and receiving touchdowns (76). On top of those, Gonzalez has numerous NFL records, including most career receiving yards and touchdowns by a TE, second-most career receptions overall and consecutive games with a catch (211), and tied for most Pro Bowl selections with 14, 10 of those as a Chief, and those are just to name a few. He also made the All-Pro team 10 times, 9 of those while in Kansas City. Gonzalez was also named to the NFL 2000s All-Decade Team and will certainly have his name in the Hall of Fame soon.
#1: Derrick Thomas
Outside Linebacker, Alabama, 4th pick of the 1989 NFL draft, Played for KC 1989-99
Derrick Thomas will forever be one of the greatest Chiefs in franchise history and one of the best pass rushers in NFL history. Thomas started his career off with a bang with 10 sacks and was named defensive rookie of the year. In the first 9 seasons of his 11-year career, D.T. made the Pro Bowl and did so much more during that time. Thomas lead the league in sacks in 1990 with 20, named NFL Man of the Year in 1993, and named All-Pro 6 times, first-team three times in 1990-92 and second-team three times in 1993-94 and 1996. By the unfortunate end of his career, Thomas had become a record-setter in every way. He currently holds the NFL record for most sacks in a game (7) and so many Chiefs career milestones. He leads the franchise in career sacks (126.5), forced fumbles (41), fumble recoveries (19), fumble returns for touchdowns (4), safeties (3), and third in career tackles(601). D.T.’s number 58 has also been retired by the Chiefs and he was named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team, alongside former teammate Neil Smith. Thomas was inducted to the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009.
What do you think? Did we leave someone off the list? Who is your number one? Let us know in the comments!
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