A ranking list would not be complete without honorable mentions. The Chiefs have drafted a few all-time greats who barely miss the cut on our list. Among those is 1960 AFL UDFA defensive end Mel Branch.
Branch was actually drafted by the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers. However, instead of signing with a team on the West Coast, the former LSU Tiger chose to stay in the South and sign instead with the upstart-AFL’s Dallas Texans.
Branch had a terrific NFL career which spanned nine seasons (six with the Texans/Chiefs). During his time with Lamar Hunt’s team, Branch made the Pro Bowl in three of his first four seasons, and was named a 1st Team All-Pro selection as a rookie in 1960.
He left the Chiefs prior to either Super Bowl appearance, but his work with Kansas City, as well as with the Miami Dolphins, earned him a spot on Pro Football Reference’s 2nd Team All-Decade Team of the 1960’s.
The Kansas City Chiefs have only ever had two UDFAs make the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and we did not put one of them in our top five. The reason for this is because Stenerud made the Hall of Fame as as result of his roster-altering position and Super Bowl Championship as much as he did for how talented of a kicker he was. Please do not get me wrong: Stenerud was a great kicker. But he was also one of the first pure placekickers in professional football, was one of the first to use a soccer-style kick, and subsequently became the first pure place kicker to ever make the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The other reason Stenerud doesn’t make our top five is semantics; Stenerud was technically drafted by the Chiefs in 1966 in what the AFL called the “redshirt” or “futures” draft.
Stenerud had a remarkable career. He played for 19 seasons, and in 263 NFL games (30th most all time). He never missed a game in his career because of injury or illness. He made the Pro Bowl five times in his career, was a 1st Team All-Pro selection in 1970, and is a member of the NFL’s All Time Top 100 team.
Despite Stenerud’s excellent Hall of Fame caliber career, he is not the best kicker in Chiefs history. It is for that reason that Nick “The Kick” Lowery was named to Arrowhead Addict’s All-Time 55 man roster as the place kicker.
Lowery had a substantially better field goal percentage, scored more points overall, and may, in fact, be the single greatest era-adjusted kicker of all time.
Three Pro Bowls and one 1st Team All-Pro selection later, not only is Nick Lowery one of the best UDFAs in Chiefs history, he’s also one of the team’s least talked about, but biggest, Pro Football Hall of Fame snubs. It would be easy to convince us that the Kansas City Chiefs all-time leading scorer should be in the top five, but positional value outweighs him here.