Building the Kansas City Chiefs all-time 55-man roster

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Kansas City Chiefs Derrick Thomas in action during the 2002 NFL season. (Photo by Allen Kee/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

Defense

Tackles (5): Buck Buchanan, Jerry Mays, Chris Jones, Bill Maas, Curley Culp

It is almost unfair (almost) how talented the Chiefs front seven is, regardless of the permutation used on the All-55 team. We decided to keep 10 down linemen, and that makes this a really dangerous group. The five tackles feature two Pro Football Hall of Famers in Buck Buchanan and Curley Culp, a should-be Hall of Famer in Jerry Mays, and the second best defensive tackle in the NFL today in Chris Jones. Bill Maas rounds out the unit, and the two-time Pro Bowler provides nice versatility for the group, though we were close to choosing Dan Saleaumua for this spot.

Honorable Mention: Dan Saleaumua

Ends (5): Neil Smith, Justin Houston, Tamba Hali, Art Still, Jared Allen

We may be stretching it a bit here to put Justin Houston and Tamba Hali as defensive ends, however, both are ends in a 4-3 defense and provide significant roster versatility for Coach Cowher. Neil Smith and Art Still are pretty easy choices for the team, and while Jared Allen really excelled for the Minnesota Vikings, he was no slouch for the Chiefs either.

Honorable Mention: Mel Branch

Linebackers (6): Bobby Bell, Willie Lanier, Derrick Thomas, Jim Lynch, Derrick Johnson, Sherrill Headrick

Selecting the linebackers for the All-55 Kansas City roster was not that difficult. We gave some thought to Dino Hackett over Sherrill Headrick, but this made the most sense to us overall. What would be difficult, however, is deciding when and where to play this loaded roster group. It is bizarre to think that Derrick Johnson is almost certainly a special teams ace on this roster.

Honorable Mention: Dino Hackett

Safeties (6): Johnny Robinson, Kevin Ross, Deron Cherry, Eric Berry, Tyrann Mathieu, Gary Barbaro

The linebacking corps is really good, the best position group on the roster, but the safeties are really talented, too. Like the preceding group, it was not all that difficult to select the players on this list (although Mathieu may be a debatable selection who gets the nod on Super Bowl hangover bias), but it would be tremendously difficult to decide how to play them. This group is stronger than the cornerback group, so it would not be surprising if Coach Dungy plays Mathieu at corner regularly.

Honorable Mention: Bobby Hunt

Cornerbacks (5): Emmitt Thomas, Dale Carter, Jim Marsalis, Albert Lewis, Dave Grayson

This was a relatively difficult decision, if only because the Chiefs have few standouts at cornerback in their history. We decided on this group largely due to versatility and as a highlight of most eras of Chiefs football. Its notable that no cornerback from the 2000s makes the list; with Marcus Peters only lasting three years in Kansas City, we gave the nod to longer tenured Chiefs with similar resumes.

Honorable Mention: Gary Green

3-4 Alignment: Buchanan, Smith, Still, Bell, Lanier, D. Thomas, Johnson, Berry, Cherry, E. Thomas, Lewis
4-3 Alignment: Buchanan, Culp, Houston, Smith, Bell, D. Thomas, Lanier, Cherry, Berry, Lewis, E. Thomas
Nickel (4-2-5): Buchanan, Culp, Houston, Smith, Bell, Lanier, Cherry, Berry, Lewis, E. Thomas, Robinson
Dime (3-2-6): Buchanan, Maas, Smith, Bell, Lanier, Cherry, Berry, Lewis, E. Thomas, Robinson, Marsalis

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