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All-Time Kansas City Chiefs Legends Derrick Thomas And Neil Smith

The Kansas City Chiefs may not have the most Super Bowls or have the most NFL Hall of Famers, but they have had an abundance of talent grace their locker rooms. The click of the cleats that belonged to some of the all-time greats in NFL history may still echo within the walls of Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs all-time roster would certainly give any other all-time roster a run for their money.


Quarterback: Trent Green

Trent Green or Len Dawson? There may be some of you out there that think Dawson would be a no-brainer here but I decided to go with Trent Green. Dawson may be a Super Bowl champion as well as an NFL Hall of Famer, but he had the luxury of having a defense that had multiple Hall of Famers.

Green was the signal caller for the top-rated offense in the early 2000’s and he posted better numbers than Dawson through the air (yes I realize they played in different eras). Green had Super Bowl ability but never made it there as a starter. Give him a better defense when he was a Chief and he takes them to a Super Bowl.

Full Back: Tony Richardson

Who else can even be considered as the all-time best fullback in Chiefs’ history? Tony Richardson, or “T-Rich”, was the lead blocker for some of the best running backs who ever played for the Chiefs. He may not have the best numbers but when it came time to get the job done, there were few greater than “T-Rich”.

Running Back: Jamaal Charles

There are a lot of names that could be penciled in as the top running back for this franchise. Do you go with Marcus Allen? How about Christian Okoye? Maybe you take Priest Holmes. Instead, Jamaal Charles deserves the title of best all-time running back in Kansas City Chiefs history. He holds the record for most rushing yards in a career and he averaged an astonishing 5.5 yards per carry. He also provides versatility as he served as a receiver and return man over his nine-year career as a Chief.

Wide Receiver: Otis Taylor

This was another no-brainer as the wide receiver is the weakest position in terms of talent in their rich history. Otis Taylor was a member of one of the best Chiefs’ squads ever and has more yards through the air than any other Chiefs wide receiver. He played in two Super Bowls and won one of them. Taylor’s name seems to get lost in the shuffle at times but he is one of the greatest athletes to play in a Chiefs’ uniform.

Wide Receiver: Dwayne Bowe

There are a few names worthy of this spot but Dwayne Bowe got the nod here. Bowe was the best receiver the Chiefs had during the late 2000’s and early 2010’s. Bowe played through some of the most underwhelming years in Chiefs’ history but still managed to etch his name as one of the top receivers to wear the red helmet.

Tight End: Tony Gonzalez

The greatest tight end to ever play the game also happened to play for the Kansas City Chiefs for the majority of his career. “Tony G” played 12 of his 17 years in the league in Kansas City. Gonzalez was the best player on the Chiefs offense for most of his time there. He had over 1,000 receiving yards four times and had at least 10 receiving touchdowns three times. He sits atop the list of every major receiving category in Chiefs’ history and will one day have his number retired and also be in Canton.

Offensive Tackle: Willie Roaf

Willie Roaf anchored the greatest offensive line in the history of Chiefs’ football which is why he gets this spot. Roaf was there to make sure the quarterback’s blindside was safe as a part of the best offensive squads that Kansas City has ever put together. He earned Pro Bowl honors every year he played for the Chiefs. Just think what that offensive unit would have been like had Roaf been a Chief in his prime.

Offensive Guard: Will Shields

Talk about an easy choice. Will Shields spent his entire 14-year career as a Chief and during that time the only game he wasn’t in the starting line up was the first game of his rookie year. Shields was voted to the Pro Bowl a whopping 12 times and is the most recent Chief to be enshrined into the Hall of Fame. No other offensive lineman, let alone an offensive guard, has meant more or attributed more to the Chiefs organization.

Center: Tim Grunhard

The Chiefs’ greatest decade was arguably the 1990’s and their vaunted defense was a large part of that success. Perhaps one of the biggest unsung heroes of that time period was offensive center Tim Grunhard. He cleared running lanes for the likes of Christian Okoye and Marcus Allen. He only made it to one Pro Bowl during his tenure but Grunhard deserves much more praise.

Offensive Guard: Brian Waters

Brian Waters, like Roaf and Shields, was a member of that infamous offensive line during the mid-2000’s. He was a Pro Bowler six times and should one day wind up with a bust. Waters spent almost his entire career in Kansas City but made stops in New England and Dallas before walking away from the game. Waters was a staple of the Chiefs line and he was a pretty simple selection to make the roster. 

Offensive Tackle: Jim Tyrer

Jim Tyrer is the only offensive lineman on this roster to have played in or won a Super Bowl. Tyrer protected Len Dawson throughout the sixties and made nine Pro Bowls. What is even more impressive is the fact that Tyrer was a first-team All-Pro six times during his career. Tyrer edged out some of the other offensive tackles due to his championship pedigree and durability.


Defensive End: Jared Allen

I would not be surprised if this pick made some people scratch their heads. Jared Allen only played in Kansas City for the first four years of his career. He was traded to Minnesota after the 2007 season in which he led the league with 15.5 sacks and earned a trip to the Pro Bowl. Two years after the trade, Kansas City switched from a 4-3 defense to a 3-4 defense which would not have been the best scheme fit for Allen. However, for the purposes of this all-time roster, I am going with a 4-3 and Allen was one of the best 4-3 defensive ends in the game.

Defensive Tackle: Buck Buchanan

Buck Buchanan was the first overall selection in the 1963 AFL Draft and he lived up to that moniker. He played on those dominant Chiefs defenses during the 60’s and 70’s. He won a Super Bowl and he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. His number 86 is retired in Kansas City and there are very few other names that are as synonymous with the history of the Chiefs than Buchanan’s.

Defensive Tackle: Dontari Poe

Playing next to Buchanan on the interior of the defensive line is Dontari Poe. A pure beast at the point of attack, teams cannot rely on one man to be able to block Poe. He has a low center of gravity and possesses the strength to penetrate beyond the line of scrimmage and either get to the quarterback or take down the ball carrier for a loss. In 2014, Poe totaled 6.5 sacks from the nose tackle position, which is impressive. Imagine trying to run up the gut against Poe and Buchanan.

Defensive End: Neil Smith

Even though Neil Smith eventually played for division rival Denver Broncos, he still deserves to be named to this roster. He played a pivotal role in the resurgence of the Chiefs in the 90’s. Smith, along with Derrick Thomas, formed one of the best pass-rushing tandems ever to play the game. Smith led the league in sacks in 1993 and had four years in a row of at least 11.5 sacks. As I mentioned earlier, Smith left Kansas City for the Mile High City after the 1996 season and would go on to win two Lombardi trophies with the Broncos.

Linebacker: Derrick Thomas

Arguably the best and most popular player in Kansas City Chiefs history, Derrick Thomas was the easiest name to fill in on this roster. Thomas won Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1989 and made the Pro Bowl the first nine years of his 11-year career. Thomas garnered comparisons to another all-time great linebacker in Lawrence Taylor. Thomas ranks 16th among the all-time sack leaders and had he not been tragically killed due to an automobile accident in 2000, he would be higher on that list, perhaps even coming close to the top spot. His number 58 is retired by the Chiefs.

Linebacker: Derrick Johnson

The most talented position in Chiefs history has to be the linebacker spot. So many great linebackers have worn the red and gold of the Chiefs which made this selection the toughest. Derrick Johnson is the best pure tackler I have ever seen in a Chiefs uniform. That doesn’t mean he is the best ever necessarily but since I have grown up watching him I had to put him here. Johnson was a part of the team that won Kansas City’s first playoff game in over 20 years. He overcame some adversity early in his career to become one of the best and most underrated linebackers in the NFL today.

Linebacker: Bobby Bell

Justin Houston was my original choice, but how can Bobby Bell not be on the Chiefs’ all-time roster? He is a Hall of Famer and is another name that is synonymous with the history of the franchise. Bell was taken by the Chiefs the same year they took Buchanan and with those two players, the foundation for a Super Bowl defense was laid. Bell was a tremendous athlete at the linebacker spot. He earned First Team All-Pro honors six years in a row and helped earn the Chiefs their only Super Bowl victory. His name will be forever etched in time in Canton.

Cornerback: Emmitt Thomas

Here is another name that comes from the 60’s era, Emmitt Thomas. Thomas played cornerback behind one of the best front sevens the Chiefs have ever had and twice led the league in interceptions. He won a Super Bowl with the Chiefs and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He also has his number 18 jersey retired. Thomas is still leaving his mark on the Chiefs organization and is currently the defensive backs coach for Kansas City.

Cornerback: Marcus Peters

Here is possibly the most controversial selection of the entire roster. Marcus Peters has only played two years so maybe he hasn’t earned the privilege of being named one of the all-time greats. In his two years in a Kansas City Chiefs uniform, Peters has earned two Pro Bowl nods and last year was named a First Team All-Pro. He was the Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2015 and already ranks 29th on the all-time interception leader list for the Chiefs. Peters will hopefully continue on the trajectory he is on.

Safety: Eric Berry

Derrick Thomas is the most popular Chief of all time but Eric Berry is a close second. Berry is in the conversation for the best safety in the NFL. He is the motivational leader in the locker room as well as on the field. Berry came back from a cancer diagnosis in 2014 and earned First Team All-Pro honors in 2015. Berry continues to lead the Chiefs’ secondary and hopefully, will for many years to come.

Safety: Deron Cherry

Deron Cherry does not get mentioned very often among the Chiefs greats and that is largely due to the fact that Cherry played for the Chiefs during the 1980’s which were some of the worst years the team had. Cherry ranks third on the list for interception leader. Cherry was a bright spot during an era when the Chiefs didn’t have too much sunshine. He made six Pro Bowls and was a three-time First Team All-Pro.

Talon Graff

Author Talon Graff

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Join the discussion 3 Comments

  • Tyler says:

    Great article, cant say that I agree 100% with every selection but you defended your picks admirably. Cant wait to see more from this writer.

  • Tim says:

    This a very competent selection. The offense is especially well done, with my only gripe being Bowe at the WR2. I think that even in a short period of time, Tyreek has proven to be a better receiver. You could also get tricky and “convert” Kelce and place him in that spot; just any way to get Dwayne Bowe off of the Chiefs’ All-Time roster.

    As for the defense, I’d switch to a 3-4 and kick Buchanan to the outside, put Curley Culp at NT in place of Poe, and replace DJ with Lanier. Then I’d put Bell at the second ILB spot because I think he’s too slim to be an edge rusher in today’s NFL, but he was certainly a great player in coverage and run defense, and then I’d have Houston take over his old spot at OLB.

    LE – Buck Buchanan

    NT – Curley Culp

    RE – Neil Smith/Jared Allen

    LOLB – Justin Houston

    ILB1 – Willie Lanier

    ILB2 – Bobby Bell

    ROLB – Derrick Thomas

  • Jim Schorgl says:

    Albert Lewis. Kevin Ross. Johnny Robinson. Aaron Brown. Jerry Mays. Willie Lanier. James Marsalis. Jim Kearney.

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