The Kansas City Chiefs are once again headed to the Super Bowl. The Chiefs’ roster construction, led by general manager Brett Veach, has allowed the organization to reach these heights without compromising sustainability.
A total of 66.0% of Kansas City’s roster began its professional careers within the organization either as a draft pick or an undrafted free agent. Here is how that breaks down by when they were selected:
- First round: 6
- Second round: 6
- Third round: 4
- Fourth round: 3
- Fifth round: 3
- Sixth round: 1
- Seventh round: 4
- Undrafted free agent: 8
By comparison, the division rival Raiders have just two of their first-round picks on the roster: edge rusher Tyree Wilson (2023) and running back Josh Jacobs (2019) despite making seven picks over the past five drafts.
The Chiefs opened the regular season by winning six of their first seven games. It was business as usual in the AFC West until the squad hit a rough patch post-bye week. Kansas City lost four of its first six games after the bye week, which is uncharacteristic of an Andy Reid team. The lull led many to wonder if they would be able to hold on to the division lead. Kansas City had seemingly lost all momentum until closing the regular season with two victories.
The offense struggled as it continued searching for its identity without Tyreek Hill. Pressure off the edge and drops defined Kansas City for a period of the season. Hired mercenaries were largely to blame for those struggles. The defense of the Chiefs making another postseason run was always centered around quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who is now four quarters away from matching Tom Brady’s Super Bowl total through six seasons. Mahomes is unquestionably the game’s best quarterback, capable of turning a bad play into a positive.
The backbone of this roster is homegrown and, for that reason, they have a lot of postseason experience playing with one another. There is a level of comfort that comes with developing a routine and understanding all that playing on this stage entails. All of that brings us back to Veach’s roster construction.
Mahomes and tight end Travis Kelce have been staples of the offense dating to the former’s selection in 2017. Only two of their starting offensive linemen were drafted by the organization. When veteran Joe Thuney was unavailable, the team turned to Nick Allegretti, who was picked in the seventh round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Leading rusher Isiah Pacheco was a seventh-round choice. Wide receivers Rashee Rice, Mecole Hardman and Justyn Ross all began their careers in Kansas City.
Although known for offense, the defense has played exceptionally well under the guidance of defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo over the past 16 months. They may lack household names outside of defensive tackle Chris Jones, but the group had the fifth best total defensive EPA this season, according to TruMedia.
Kansas City has used its last three first-round selections on defense: edge rushers George Karlaftis and Felix Anudike-Uzomah and cornerback Trent McDuffie. Day 2 selections have been spent on linebackers Nick Bolton, Willie Gay Jr. and Leo Chenal over the past four years.
The cornerback room is comprised solely of homegrown talent, including L’Jarius Sneed, Jaylen Watson, Ekow Boye-Doe, Nic Jones, Joshua Williams and McDuffie. Safety is one of the few spots on the roster where they have supplemented the roster with free agents.
The front office deserves a lot of credit for surrounding top-dollar players with depth playing out rookie contracts.
Super Bowl LVIII will kick off at 6:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb. 11 at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. The big game will be broadcast on CBS and there will be an alternative broadcast on Nickelodeon. Football fans can also stream the game on Paramount+.