Chiefs Hall of HonorWith the eleventh pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Kansas City Chiefs [would be absolutely thrilled to] select…any player who could come even remotely close to the success and production of one of these twelve former Chiefs draft picks.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’m itching for the draft this year. Last year we had the huge cloud of the lockout hanging over our heads so the draft had a twinge of worry that we’d never see those guys who were picked playing that year anyway. This still young offseason in 2012 has brought excitement already via a frenzied first month of free agency and should only bring more drama once the draft gets here.

As great as the draft is for football fans, it’s even better this year for Chiefs fans. The team does not have the typical “glaring needs” that it usually does entering the draft. That means they have the luxury of looking for the best available player when they are on the clock. Typically you will find that there is a higher likelihood for a draft pick to make it into the list below when he is selected by a team who feels he’s the best guy available and not selected primarily to fill a gaping hole on their roster.

Here’s to Chiefs fans everywhere who are hoping, nay, praying, that there is a pick in the 2012 draft that may one day wind up on this list. Keep in mind an important factor in being labeled one of the best picks of a franchise is the impact you bring to THAT team, not someone else’s. So as you can see, these guys below made a lasting impact on the Chiefs franchise. Without further ado, I present the Top 12 Kansas City Chiefs Draft Picks of All-Time:

#12
Dave Szott Round Seven (OG), Penn State- 1990

  • Szott gets the nod over fellow stalwart on the Chiefs line, Tim Grunhard, due to playing for KC longer than Tim, making an equal impact, and being a higher “value” as a 7thround pick (Grunhard was a 2ndrounder). He played for 14 years in the NFL, 11 of those for the Chiefs. Like Grunhard, he also made it to 1 Pro Bowl. On top of being a tremendous force on the line, he was known as a relentless charitable contributor in the Kansas City community. I’d say that all adds up to being a steal with a 7thround pick for KC.

#11
Jared Allen Round Four (DE), Idaho State- 2004

  • It’s still hard to believe Allen was dealt after racking up 43 sacks in four years with the Chiefs. Can you envision him teamed up with Tamba Hali on this current defense? It’s a scary thought. Unfortunately, you’d have to also envision the Chiefs without Branden Albert and Jamaal Charles, since that’s who they hauled in with the picks the Vikings dealt for Allen. While Charles has shown he’s a franchise back (when he can stay healthy), Branden Albert has fallen into the mold of a solid but not spectacular left tackle. Nonetheless, nobody can debate the impact Allen has had on the league as he’s racked up a total of 105 sacks in his career as one of the most feared pass rushers in the game today.

#10
Otis Taylor Fourth Round (WR), Prairie View- 1965

  • Taylor made 3 Pro Bowls in his 11-year career with the Chiefs piling up over 400 receptions in his career. Keep in mind his numbers don’t tell the whole story of his career because guys weren’t piling up 100 receptions a year back in those days. He was well-known as a premier downfiled blocker, a large part of the WR/FL position at the time. Still, any doubts as to his talent as a pass catching threat can be alleviated by hearing his Hall of Fame QB Len Dawson say how he made his job easy.

#9
Art Still First Round (DE), Kentucky- 1978

  • Still was a sack-master well before there was such a thing as sacks. He did a ton of damage to QBs across the league for about 4 seasons until the sack became an official NFL stat and was tracked. Even without those four years of sack stats, he rang up 42.5 “official” sacks over his 10 years with the Chiefs. He was a behemoth of a man standing 6’7” and made it to 4 Pro Bowls during his career. As the 2ndpick overall in the 1978 draft he certainly lived up to the hype.

#8
Albert Lewis Round Three (CB), Grambling- 1983

  • Lewis was a 4-time Pro Bowler and amassed 38 interceptions over his 11-year stint with the Chiefs. Lewis served as a “shutdown corner” before the term was really being used back in the 1980’s. He was big and physical for a corner in those days and yet could still keep up with the speed guys on the offensive side of the ball. When we look at Brandon Flowers these days we hope his career can one day be as successful as Albert Lewis’ was.

#7
Jack Rudnay Round Four (C), Northwestern- 1969

  • Rudnay was a 4-Time Pro Bowler who played his entire 13-year career for the Chiefs. He was highly regarded as one of the premier centers in the league during the 1970’s. He also has the distinction of being drafted into the AFL, missing that entire first championship season, and starting his career when the Chiefs moved into the NFL the following year.

#6
Buck Buchanan Round One (DT), Grambling State- 1963

  • Widely regarded as one of the best defensive linemen of his time, Buchanan was the rare combination of size (6’7” 280 lbs), speed, athleticism, and aggression. He was an 8-time Pro Bowler in his 13 years with the Chiefs and was inducted into the Hall of Fame shortly after he passed away. He’s considered one of the top 100 players of all-time and surely one of the greatest Chiefs to ever play.

#5
Willie Lanier Round Two (MLB), Morgan State- 1967

  • Lanier was truly one of the best all-around defensive players in the NFL during that time, or really during any time and his Hall of Famer status proves it. He was a beast on the field with his speed and fierce tackling style. He probably would have been fined out of a job in today’s NFL. He could tackle, force fumbles, and intercept passes and do them all extremely well. Lanier made 8 straight Pro Bowls in his 11-year career with the Chiefs and formed an integral part of perhaps the greatest linebacking trio in the history of the game along with Bobby Bell and Jim Lynch.

#4
Will Shields Round Three (OG), Nebraska- 1993

  • Would most fans take a 14-year career and 12-time Pro Bowler out of their 3rdround draft pick this year? I think every fan in their right mind would jump at the chance. That’s exactly what the Chiefs found when drafting Shields in 1993. He was a stalwart on some of the best offensive lines of the time and paved the way for Marcus Allen, Priest Holmes, and Larry Johnson. Shields played a crucial role in their success and is a shoe-in for Hall of Fame induction. As a reminder for all the drafnicks who focus on “measurables”, the reason Shields fell to the 3rdround was that scouts thought he had short arms. Yet old stubby somehow managed to redefine the position as one of the best pulling guards ever to play. Typically the quicker guards who were on the smaller side were used out in space yet Shields was the rare big man with good feet and incredible strength which allowed him to be a complete mauler in space.

#3
Bobby Bell Round Seven (LB/DE), Minnesota- 1963

  • Bell has been called one of the best all-around linebackers in the history of the game. He was extremely athletic and had good size. He could chase down the fastest ball carriers and still put much larger lineman flat on their backs. A 9-time Pro Bowler over 12 years with the Chiefs, he managed to compile 26 career interceptions along with 40 sacks. Currently enshrined in the Hall of Fame, he also led the Chiefs defense in winning their only Super Bowl (IV) against the Vikings. Not too shabby for a seventh round pick, eh?

#2
Tony Gonzalez First Round (TE), California- 1997

  • Gonzalez already has his name plastered all over the NFL record books and even with the emergence of the new brand of receiving threat at the position, his records should stand for a long time. He was the first hybrid basketball playing uber-athletic TE that could stretch the field and change a game. As of now he is the greatest TE in NFL history and it will be a while (if ever) before someone can surpass him. While most of his 1,100+ receptions were in a Chiefs uniform (916 to be exact), he should have played his last career game as a member of the Chiefs. Instead, KC got a 2ndround pick for him and parlayed it into situational nickleback and return man, Javier Arenas. While that clearly didn’t work out the way they thought, there’s no doubting the impact Gonzalez had on the Chiefs, and more so the position of TE in the NFL as a whole.

#1
Derrick Thomas First Round (LB), Alabama- 1987

  • The man known simply as “DT” is highly regarded as one of the greatest pass rushers of all time which makes it a tossup between him and Gonzalez for best Chiefs draft pick ever. His numbers in only 11 season backup his legendary name, with 126.5 sacks (12thAll-Time), 9 Pro Bowls, and the single game sack record (7). After dying tragically from complications stemming from a car accident, it’s only natural to wonder what more he could have done since he was only 33 at the time of his death. Other than Lawrence Taylor, no pass-rushing LB evokes more fear in the memories of QB’s anywhere than Derrick Thomas. His Canton enshrinement was long overdue.

Just missed:
Jerry Mays Fifth Round (DE/DT), SMU- 1961 (7-time Pro Bowler in 9 years)
Ed Budde First Round (OG), Michigan State- 1963 (6-time Pro Bowler in 11 years)
Neil Smith First Round (DE), Nebraska- 1988 (7-time Pro Bowler in 11 years)
Christian Okoye Second Round (RB), Azusa Pacific- 1987(2-time Pro Bowler over 6 seasons in KC & led the NFL in rushing in 1989)
Dale Carter First Round (DB), Tennessee – 1992 (4-time Pro Bowler in 8 years)

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