These days, the Kansas City Chiefs top receiving option is clearly veteran tight end Travis Kelce. That is not dogging on current Chiefs wide receivers, but Kelce has the experience and talent edge over all of them. That legendary connection with quarterback Patrick Mahomes doesn't hurt either.
Those dominant tight ends have been a common feature for most of my Chiefs fandom. I am 27 years old, born in 1997. There have only been five years of my life where either Kelce or Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez were not the top Chiefs tight ends. Talk about being spoiled.
There has been some legendary production from the Kansas City Chiefs wide receivers in franchise history, with one standing above the rest.
In that mindset, I usually undervalue wide receivers. That is starting to change, seeing how players like Davante Adams, Justin Jefferson, and Cooper Kupp can change a team's trajectory. Chiefs fans saw it firsthand with Tyreek Hill becoming a top-five NFL receiver while in Kansas City. It got me thinking: What other receivers am I missing out on? Fans know all about guys like Hill and Hall of Famer Otis Taylor. What historic seasons are forgotten with Kansas City's historically inconsistent passing attack? I did some research, and here are the top 10 wide receiver seasons in Chiefs history.
10. Eddie Kennison, 2005
Stats: 16 games, 68 receptions, 1,102 receiving yards, five touchdowns
If you are a fan who vividly remembers Eddie Kennison's 2005 season, it is time to schedule that colonoscopy. The journeyman wide receiver spent parts of three seasons with four different teams before settling in Kansas City in 2001. From 2002 to 2006, Kennison had at least 850 receiving yards and averaged five touchdowns a season.
His 2005 campaign featured five 100-yard games, capping off the season against the Denver Broncos with seven catches for 151 yards. Kennison retired in 2010 from Kansas City on a one-day contract. The LSU alum's career height undoubtedly came in a Chiefs uniform, with 2005 being his best season.
9. Carlos Carson, 1987
Stats: 12 games, 55 receptions, 1,044 receiving yards, seven touchdowns
From one LSU Tiger to another, Carlos Carson spent nine of his 10 professional seasons with the Chiefs. He is the first good wide receiver the Chiefs took in the fifth round, but not the last. This was his third season exceeding 1,000 receiving yards, earning him his second career Pro Bowl selection.
The overall numbers are not astounding, but Carson averaged 87 yards per game, a career high, and 19 yards per reception in the 12 games he played in. His longevity and performance in Kansas City earned him a spot in the Chiefs Hall of Honor in 2017.
8. Tyreek Hill, 2017
Stats: 15 games, 75 receptions, 1,183 receiving yards, seven touchdowns
Tyreek Hill began his illustrious tenure as the Chiefs' top wide receiver in 2017, where he started 13 games. He already earned All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors in his rookie season, but that was as a kick returner. Hill exploded onto the scene with Quarterback Alex Smith in one of the best Chiefs offenses ever.
Plus, we saw exactly how Hill's speed changes any situation in a memorable 55-yard touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys. Hill ended the season with another Pro Bowl selection as a punt returner. If only Chiefs fans knew this was just the beginning of Hill's dominance in Kansas City.
7. Tyreek Hill, 2021
Stats: 17 games, 111 receptions, 1,239 receiving yards, nine touchdowns
It seems poetic to jump from 2017 to 2021 here. The former fifth-rounder posted three games with at least 100 receiving yards, starting off the season with an 11-catch, 197-yard performance against the Cleveland Browns. Hill shifted from a speedy deep threat to a bulk receiver in Andy Reid's system this season. His changing role did not affect his game-changing, however. His 111 receptions are still a Chiefs franchise record, with Travis Kelce falling one short in 2022.
This ended up being Hill's final season in Kansas City, ending his tenure on a down note after the AFC Championship loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. He still left Kansas City with the fifth-most receiving yards in franchise history and a franchise-best 72.9 yards per game.
6. Dwayne Bowe, 2010
Stats: 16 games, 72 receptions, 1,162 receiving yards, 15 touchdowns
Dwayne Bowe was already a known commodity in Kansas City when 2010 rolled around. But, nobody could have predicted him breaking the Chiefs' single-season touchdown catch record in his third professional season. The former LSU Tiger is the best first-round Chiefs wide receiver, and that is a fact.
Bowe posted five multi-touchdown games this season en route to an astounding 15 touchdown grabs. Bowe earned his first and only Pro Bowl honor this season. He never reached these heights again but had a solid nine-year career and retired as a Chief in 2019.
5. Carlos Carson, 1983
Stats: 16 games, 80 receptions, 1,351 receiving yards, seven touchdowns
While Otis Taylor is undoubtedly the best pre-2000 Chiefs receiver, Carson made a good case for himself in the 1980s. His 1983 performance set then-franchise records for receptions and receiving yards, including Otis Taylor's record that had stood since 1966.
Carson earned his first Pro Bowl nod in a season in which he had the second-most receiving yards in the NFL. The Chiefs went 6-10 this season after the infamous failure of Todd Blackledge. Carson was certainly the best offensive player in 1983, as evident by his production and lack of a supporting cast.
4. Tyreek Hill, 2020
Stats: 15 games, 87 receptions, 1,276 receiving yards, 15 touchdowns
The flip into the endzone was utterly disrespectful to the Denver Broncos, and Chiefs fans everywhere loved it. Hill had the eighth-most receiving yards in 2020, trailing teammate Travis Kelce's 1,416. The tandem really took off this year, accounting for 26 touchdowns. Hill tied Bowe's record this season, setting his career high in touchdown catches as well.
Hill's 85.1 receiving yards per game is sixth in Chiefs history, while he proved he could move the chains with 57 first-down conversions. After a down 2019 season, 2020 was the perfect year back amid the pandemic for Hill.
3. Derrick Alexander, 2000
Stats: 16 games, 78 receptions, 1,391 receiving yards, 10 touchdowns
Older Chiefs fans knew this one was coming. Alexander's 2000 performance was a great way to ring in the millennium, especially as the Chiefs missed the postseason. Alexander, tight end Tony Gonzalez, and quarterback Elvis Grbac led the Chiefs' top-five passing attack, though, giving some signs of hope.
He broke Carson's single-season receiving yards record in 2020, surpassing Carson by a mere 40 yards. Alexander had a whopping 144 targets this season, only hauling in 78 of them. Few fans will argue that Alexander is one of the best wide receivers ever, but his 2000 performance is undeniable.
2. Otis Taylor, 1966
Stats: 14 games, 58 receptions, 1,297 receiving yards, eight touchdowns
In an era not defined by the passing game, Otis Taylor wasn't even a wide receiver yet; he was a flanker. The MVP was Joe Namath, the first Super Bowl was played, and yet Taylor still ranks this high. He posted the longest reception in the 1966 season, going for 89 yards on one catch.
Taylor ranks this high because of his averages. His 92.6 yards per game and 22.4 yards per catch this season are still the best among Chiefs wide receivers. Plus, Taylor's impactful performance only raised quarterback Len Dawson en route to Super Bowl I against the Green Bay Packers. Hopefully, Taylor will secure his rightful place in Canton, albeit posthumously.
1. Tyreek Hill, 2018
Stats: 16 games, 87 receptions, 1,479 receiving yards, 12 touchdowns
The year everything changed in Kansas City saw Hill reach the highest heights of his career. Patrick Mahomes was the full-time starter, later winning his first NFL MVP award, but he could not have done it without Hill. He led the NFL with 15 yards per touch this season, despite having 109 touches.
Hill set the franchise record in receiving yards, setting an extremely high bar. His 10.8 yards per target is still the second-best among all qualified Chiefs receivers. His 92.4 yards per game only trails Taylor's mark. Hill's 2018 season is certainly the best in franchise history, and will be until a new generational talent comes to Kansas City.