Ranking the top 10 Kansas City Chiefs linebackers of all time

Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Bell (Photo by James Flores/Getty Images)
Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame linebacker Bobby Bell (Photo by James Flores/Getty Images) /
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Kansas City Chiefs, Justin Houston
KANSAS CITY, MO – DECEMBER 28: Outside linebacker Justin Houston #50 of the Kansas City Chiefs reacts after sacking quarterback Philip Rivers #17 of the San Diego Chargers during the first half of the game at Arrowhead Stadium on December 28, 2014 in Kansas City, Missouri. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) /

7. Justin Houston

Justin Houston was an incredibly gifted athlete, possessing a beastly physique for an outside linebacker at 6’3″ and 270 pounds and all-world speed for his size with a 4.62 second 40-yard dash. Houston’s strength and speed was off the charts, making offensive tackles considered “dancing bears” look foolish on a consistent basis.

Houston was a bit of a late bloomer, but exploded his junior season at the University of Georgia with 10 sacks and an All-SEC First Team selection. The Kansas City Chiefs selected him in the third round of the 2011 NFL Draft to pair with burgeoning star Tamba Hali at outside linebacker.

Though his first season with the Chiefs was a challenge, Houston generating only 5.5 sacks on the season, all of those came near the end of the season and it was clear he had talent. It wasn’t long before his star burned indelibly bright.

Over the next three seasons Houston would generate 43 sacks coming in a close second in the NFL to J.J. Watt with 51.5. While some may consider that a large gap, when you consider Watt rushed the passer nearly 100 percent of the time while Houston dropped into coverage a decent percentage of the time, the disparity becomes negligible.

In NFL circles, Houston is most known for his epic 2014 season. That season, one that resulted in Houston garnering one of the richest contracts in NFL history, Houston registered the most sacks since 2001 and the second most ever with 22. He barely missed the all-time record held by Michael Strahan who posted 22.5 in 2001.

Unfortunately, after signing his big money extension, Houston played only 16 games in the next two seasons. Injuries began to plague both his career and his outward persona amongst fans. Ultimately, he departed for Indianapolis following the team’s magical run to the 2018 AFC Championship.

Despite Houston’s somewhat acrimonious departure from the franchise, he was one of the most physically talented linebackers the Chiefs have ever had. His star burned exceptionally bright for a short time, with four Pro Bowls and one First Team All Pro honor, and that is enough to garner him the seventh spot on this list of all-time Chiefs linebackers.