Teams do not hit home runs with every draft pick, and sometimes, not even with every draft class. A look at the most epically bad classes in KC Chiefs history.
Every team has them, drafts that just, for whatever reason, do not pan out. The Kansas City Chiefs are not immune to these phenomena. And general managers, despite their abilities, are also not immune to such failures.
Arguably, the best general manager in Chiefs history was Jack Steadman. He was the general manager for Kansas City from 1960-1975. Some of the drafts he orchestrated for the franchise during the 1960s were the best not just in team history, but in league history. Unfortunately for Steadman, he also conducted the worst drafts in team history.
His run from 1970-1975 was quite possibly the worst run of draft picks in league history. Over the course of those six drafts, the Kansas City Chiefs selected zero players with a single All-Pro mention or even Pro Bowl appearance. In fact, of the 91 players selected by the team over the course of these six drafts, only 11 ever started a single game for Kansas City.
This certainly helps explains the team’s competitiveness on the field during that stretch and the years that followed. Immediately following the team’s Super Bowl IV Championship, they had winning records but only one playoff appearance in each of the next four seasons. The six years after that, from 1975-1980, the team finished at or below .500 in every season, averaging six wins per year. After one of the most dominant decades in league history, one which saw Kansas City win three AFL Championships, two Super Bowl appearances, and a World Championship, the team melted down in the decade of the 70’s. These are directly attributable to the draft selections made during this stretch.
While all of the top worst five draft classes are from the Steadman era, the Chiefs have (of course) had poor draft classes since that time as well. We’ll call this the dishonorable mention list of Chiefs draft classes.
In 2001 Kansas City had nine draft picks and they combined for exactly three years as starting level players in the NFL. Of those, none ever made the Pro Bowl or an All-Pro team and all were out of the league by 2010. Frankly the only thing preventing this class from being in the top five is Monty Beisel, who appeared in 119 games in his career. The former Kansas State Wildcats’ total is more than some entire draft classes on our top five list. So, while the ’01 draft was bad, it was not bad enough to make our list.
The Chiefs followed up their 2001 draft with another dismal performance in the 2002 selection meeting. In that class, Kansas City had only five picks. Those five featured Ryan Sims, one of the worst busts in team history, and three players who never started a game in the NFL. Like the ’01 group, this class is saved by the appearance of one player: Scott Fujita, who parlayed his 5th round selection in to an 11-year NFL career in which he was a starting linebacker for 10 seasons. Not a great class, but Fujita disqualifies them from the poorest classes of all time.
The 2009 draft class put together by the Chiefs organization also warrants a mention here. The team drafted eight players in this selection process, and six of them never started a game in the NFL. None ever made the Pro Bowl or an All-Pro team.
Despite its overall futility, we cannot put this class amongst the five worst of all time, however. While a dismal third overall selection, Tyson Jackson was an NFL starter for six seasons who played in the league for eight years and started 90 games. He’d have been considered a great draft pick if taken in the 3rd or 4th round.
In addition to Jackson, “Mr. Irrelevant” in 2009 was kicker Ryan Succop. Succop played in 80 consecutive games in Kansas City; 80 more consecutive games in five years in Tennessee. His 2019 season was thrown off the tracks by two appearances on the injured reserve list, and he finished the season 1-of-6 on field goal attempts. The Titans released him in March and he is currently a free agent. The appearance of two starting caliber players who earned second contracts and had long careers in the NFL disqualifies 2009 from the bottom five list.
If no modern era classes are in the bottom five of all time, what are the worst draft classes in Kansas City Chiefs history?
Fun fact: not a single player selected by the Chiefs in any of the five following drafts ever made the Pro Bowl or an All-Pro team for the Chiefs; and only one ever did in the NFL.