KC Chiefs: Biggest NFL draft busts of the Andy Reid era

Breeland Speaks of the Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
Breeland Speaks of the Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /
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KC Chiefs. Khalen Saunders
KC Chiefs. Khalen Saunders. (Photo by G Fiume/Getty Images) /

Khalen Saunders

 I already know what some of you are thinking on this one: “Really?” On the surface, Saunders sounds like a strange choice for one of the biggest draft busts of the Andy Reid era, but hear me out.

First, when I looked at the list of drafts in the Reid era I started with the earlier picks because there is more importance placed on those so you will commonly find the biggest busts in that range but the Chiefs didn’t have too many. Clyde Edwards-Helaire was a bad one but he’s at least been okay.

Besides that, there aren’t really any huge busts early on. Then, I make my way down to the mid-round guys and that’s where we find some more. Now, with mid-rounders, there is less discrepancy between a third-round pick and a fourth-round pick than the higher picks so at this point you’re really just comparing careers among those middle-round guys. Beyond the first four rounds, it is kind of hard to label anyone else a bust.

So, I’m looking at mid-round picks and you can make a case for some other players like Phillip Gaines (who might be one of the worst cornerbacks I’ve ever seen) but he did some things—not a lot, but some. Tanoh Kpassagnon is another one but he had somewhat of a career resurgence his last couple of years in the league and signed a second contract with the New Orleans Saints and even though he wasn’t really worthy of a 2nd round pick, he was productive. One last example is Dorian O’Daniel. He flashed under Bob Sutton in 2018 and even though he never sustained consistent playing time after that he was still a core special-teamer.

Essentially, there’s been some questionable or bad picks in the mid-rounds in the Andy Reid era, but a lot of those guys still did something. Khalen Saunders really hasn’t done anything and I feel like it doesn’t get talked about enough when he was a top-90 pick in the draft just a couple of years ago.

In just three seasons with the Chiefs, Saunders has recorded 33 combined tackles, 2 QB Hits, 1 PD, and a sack, That’s it. That is all Saunders has done in 3 seasons with Kansas City and his percentage of snaps has hovered right around 30% each season. Saunders has had trouble staying healthy, sure, but that doesn’t absolve you of being a bust and I recall at one point in 2020 he came off Injured Reserve but remained inactive because Tershawn Wharton had quite frankly played him off the depth chart. 2021 was also more of the same for Saunders.

When we think of draft busts, we typically think of players that turned out bad or simply didn’t live up to the hype, but what about players that just didn’t do anything? Russell and Saunders are firmly on the list of biggest draft busts in the Reid era because of their inability to see the field. They’re quite literally wasted draft picks.

Putting Saunders on the list might be a bit harsh for some people, but I also find it hard to not have him on here when he was a third-round pick in 2019. The fortunate thing for Saunders, however, is that he still has a chance to prove me wrong as he is the only one on the list who is still on the roster and has a chance to play well.

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