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Ranking the Chiefs: Travis Kelce has been as consistently dominant as any in history

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On Saturdays through May, Arrowhead Pride contributors weigh in on the five best Chiefs of all time. Now it’s Matt Lane’s turn.

NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Oakland Raiders Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

On Saturdays through May, Arrowhead Pride contributors list (and explain) their top five Kansas City Chiefs of all time.


My top 5 all-time Chiefs

  1. Quarterback Patrick Mahomes
  2. Edge rusher Derrick Thomas
  3. Linebacker Derrick Johnson
  4. Tight end Travis Kelce
  5. Offensive Guard Will Shields

Leaving Jamaal Charles off of this list was absolutely gut-wrenching — and I hate myself a little for it — but when ranking the greatest players in Chiefs history, his impact just doesn’t hold up. After Craig Stout’s Back-To-The-Future-esque list last week, I also felt it was necessary to keep mine a little more modern.

I’m aware that Patrick Mahomes has only been in the NFL for three seasons. To me, it simply doesn’t matter. It’s probably a little biased to weigh the potential of his future, but even his accomplishments through two starting seasons give him enough ground to stand upon. A record-setting MVP season leading to an AFC Championship loss — after a lights-out second half performance — and becoming Super Bowl MVP while leading the Chiefs to their second Super Bowl title? The case to keep him off of the top of this list is based purely on longevity; he has accomplished as much in these last two seasons as any Chiefs player throughout their career.

Derrick Thomas — the best Jack linebacker of all time — is arguably the most under-appreciated player of all time, too. He was Von Miller before Von Miller — except that Thomas was faster. Very few players in the NFL’s history have been able to dominate a passing game the way Thomas did — and he headed some electric Chiefs defenses. Unfortunately, his career was cut way too short — which is another reason he is under-appreicated nationally.

Derrick Johnson was one of the few shining lights during a rather dark time in Chiefs football. He was one of the first of the NFL’s “new age” linebackers — a guy with the athleticism of a defensive back who preferred running around blockers rather than through them. Early in his career, this caught him a lot of flak from the coaching staff (and fans) — but he quickly turned that narrative on its head. His tenacity (and highlight plays) stood out like no others. Jamaal Charles and Tamba Hali helped carry his era of Chiefs football, but nothing made the Chiefs more palatable to watch than seeing Jonnson fly through the line of scrimmage — or blow up a crossing route.

Travis Kelce is the probably the most controversial pick on this list, but I think that’s due to a bad set of circumstances. Tony Gonzalez paved the way for the new age tight ends, so the Chiefs weren’t too far removed from elite tight end play before Kelce arrived. Just five years passed between them — and during that time, the Chiefs had adequate tight-end play; there was never a reset to what normal NFL tight-end play looks like. On top of that, Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham overshadowed Kelce for a while. Chiefs fans don’t under-appreciate what he’s done the way the national media does — but he also doesn’t get as much credit as he deserves for how dominant, consistent and important he has been to the team since his first year as a starter in 2014. As much as any player on this list (who is not named Patrick Mahomes) his performance has been the most tied to the team’s success.

Will Shields rounds out this list due to his unbelievable consistency and rare athletic traits during a time when the NFL favored massive. mauling offensive linemen — and for simply being so darn good. Nothing about Shields sticks in my mind more than watching him pull around the left side and absolutely bury Ray Lewis on a toss play. Later in the game, the situation arose again — and rather than challenging Shields, Lewis stopped in his tracks, trying to backdoor the play so he could escape another embarrassing encounter. Shields played in a time that offensive linemen didn’t get quite the same appreciation as they do now — but he deserves every bit of credit anyone could ever give him.

Poll

How perfect is this list?

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  • 16%
    Strongly perfect
    (122 votes)
  • 51%
    Somewhat perfect
    (381 votes)
  • 24%
    Somewhat imperfect
    (181 votes)
  • 7%
    Strongly imperfect
    (57 votes)
741 votes total Vote Now

Cumulative rankings

  • Derrick Thomas (30 points)
  • Patrick Mahomes (24)
  • Len Dawson (16)
  • Derrick Johnson (10)
  • Tony Gonzalez (8)
  • Will Shields (7)
  • Jamaal Charles (6)
  • Willie Lanier (5)
  • Travis Kelce (4)
  • Bobby Bell (3)
  • Eric Berry (3)
  • Curley Culp (2)
  • Alex Smith (1)
  • Jan Stenerud (1)

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