The top 15 greatest draft picks in Kansas City Chiefs history

Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images)
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs(Photo by David Eulitt/Getty Images) /
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Chiefs, Willie Lanier
Linebacker Willie Lanier #63 of the Kansas City Chiefs  (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images) /

11. Willie Lanier (2nd round, 1967)

The first golden age for the Chiefs franchise featured a fearsome defense with a significant number of future Pro Football Hall of Fame players, and Lanier was a late addition to the mix as a second-round pick out of Morgan State in ’67. Lanier started early in his rookie year at middle linebacker and became a hard-hitting and all-around dangerous figure in the heart of a championship defense.

12. Neil Smith (1st round, 1988)

The Chiefs knew they wanted Smith in the 1988 draft and traded up one spot with Detroit to get him, a move anchored by a vision of Smith wreaking havoc on NFL quarterbacks in similar ways to his college days at Nebraska for Tom Osborne’s defense. With six Pro Bowl appearances and 102.5 career sacks (85.5 of those for K.C.), Smith more than rewarded the Chiefs for their efforts and goes down as one of the best picks ever made.

13. Eric Berry (1st round, 2010)

Eric Berry is the Jamaal Charles of the defense here (coming soon), a player whose greatness was stunted by frustrating injuries. Still, Berry deserves the spotlight here for being an instant leader in the secondary for the Chiefs from day one, which is why Scott Pioli selected him so high in the draft (No. 5). From his courageous battle to return from Hodgkin’s lymphoma to his impactful presence for the Chiefs’ defense, Berry was a Pro Bowler in any season in which he was healthy (five).

14. Jim Tyrer (3rd round, 1961)

A former star at Ohio State, Tyrer was the first great Chiefs offensive lineman, a pillar at left tackle who held down the position for an incredible run of 180 consecutive starts. Tyrer also did so at an incredibly high level with 9 total Pro Bowls/AFL All-Star appearances to his name.

15. Otis Taylor (4th round, 1965)

If not for the presence of a Cheetah on our list, Taylor would be known as the best wide receiver ever drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs. Some older fans might still feel that way. Taylor was a man before his time as a field-stretching pass catcher with a robust 17.8 yards/catch average in his 10-plus year career.