Now that we have covered the offensive side for the best rookies, now it’s time for the defense. The Chiefs have had some of the best defensive players in the entire league play for the franchise. There are prominent names that will appear here but there could be a surprise as well. Let’s break down the top three defensive rookies in Chief’s history.
First up on the best defensive rookies list, we have former Chiefs cornerback, Marcus Peters. Peters came to the team as a first-round pick in 2015. He was one of the best cornerback prospects in the draft and has performed to that so far. Peters became an immediate impact player for Kansas City as a rookie.
Peters started in 16 games, intercepted eight passes, and finished with 280 return yards on those interceptions. He also finished with two touchdowns, 53 tackles, and seven assisted tackles. He became a key piece of the Chiefs’ defense and it stayed that way. Peters got involved in drama during his third season which led to him being traded to the Los Angeles Rams. But his rookie year showed he was the real deal and was elite when he was a Kansas City Chief.
Next, we have a Chiefs legend, Eric Berry. Berry was drafted with the fifth overall pick in 2010 out of Tennessee. He came to the Chiefs with one of the best work ethics and skillsets, hence the number five pick. Berry met every expectation for a top-five pick and was one of the more valuable players on the roster far past his rookie year.
Berry started in 16 games during his rookie year and finished with four interceptions, two sacks, and 72 tackles. He also racked up 102 return yards on his interceptions with a touchdown. He was such a dynamic defensive player and was the leader of that defense, even as a rookie. While it was not his rookie year, Berry bounced back from cancer in 2015 and finished with two interceptions, 55 tackles, and six assisted tackles. That alone showed that his spirit never wavered far beyond his rookie season.
Last but certainly not least, we have the greatest Chiefs rookie ever and possibly the greatest Chief in general, Derrick Thomas. There is not a single rookie season in the long Chiefs history that was better than Thomas’s. Thomas was drafted in 1989 as the fourth overall pick out of Alabama. To say Thomas burst onto the scene would be an understatement. Thomas became an immediate superstar even as a rookie.
By the end of his rookie season, Thomas started 16 games and finished with ten sacks, 75 tackles, and three forced fumbles. Thomas’ rookie stat line earned him a Pro Bowl nod and the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year award. This would the first year of four that saw Thomas win Defensive Player of the Year. He would also play in nine Pro Bowls and receive two All-Pro selections.
The impact Thomas brought to the field as a rookie will likely never be matched. His Hall of Fame career is one that is still talked about by Chiefs fans and NFL fans in general. We tragically lost Derrick Thomas to a car accident in 2000. He is now memorialized by the entire Kansas City community and is a Chiefs legend. I would argue he became a legend as a rookie. There should be zero arguments on who is the greatest Chiefs rookie of all time.
Which all-time Chiefs’ defensive rookie is your favorite? Leave a comment down below to join the discussion.
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