The Kansas City Chiefs have a long, storied history in the NFL. As one of the original AFL franchises, plenty of rookies have come and gone over the years. The rich history of successful franchise rookies makes this easy to pick the best ones. However, we are going to start with the best offensive rookies. So, do not expect to see Derrick Thomas or anyone from the defense on this list. That being said, let’s break down the top three Chiefs offensive rookies of all time:
The first rookie on this list is a running back by the name of Joe Delaney. Delaney was drafted in the second round of the 1981 NFL Draft with the 41st pick overall. The Northwestern State product came to the team as a rookie and immediately made an impact. He started ten games his rookie year and rushed for 1,121 yards and three touchdowns. He was one of the early versions of a receiving back as well as he finished with 246 receiving yards.
Delaney set four franchise records in his rookie year. He set the record for most rushing yards in a season (1,121), most rushing yards in a game (193), most 100-yard rushing games in a season (five), and most consecutive 100-yard rushing games (three). Delaney would go on to win AFC Rookie of the Year and cement himself in Chiefs history. Unfortunately, Delaney passed away after his second season after saving three children from drowning at an amusement park. Delaney was honored the following season by the Chiefs. While his time with the team was short, it only took Delaney one season to cement his name as a Chiefs great.
The next player on our list hails from the early days of the franchise. Mack Lee Hill came to the Chiefs as an undrafted free agent out of Southern University. Hill would be signed to an incredibly low $300 deal to be paid only if he made the official roster. He would prove to be a surprising talent at fullback and running back. He definitely did not light up the stat book but his contributions overall, are what puts him here.
Hill started in 14 games and finished his rookie year with 576 yards and four touchdowns. He also contributed in the receiving game with 144 yards and two touchdowns. Hill’s final yardage total would be 720 yards and six touchdowns. For Hill to succeed at that level after signing a $300 deal made him a model of rookie success stories.
The dedication to being a good football player despite the low money is why the franchise now awards the Mack Lee Hill Award to the best rookie on the team each season. Before the tragic loss of Joe Delaney in 1983, we lost Mack Lee after his second year due to severe fever and convulsions during routine knee surgery.
To close out the best offensive rookies list, we have yet another running back in Kareem Hunt. Hunt was drafted in the third round of the 2017 draft with the 86th overall pick. Kansas City traded up to get Hunt so clearly they knew he would be something special. The Toledo product immediately became the starter (following an injury to starter Spencer Ware) and never looked back.
Hunt finished his rookie season with 1,327 rushing yards and eight touchdowns. He also had 455 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Hunt’s stat line would win him a share of the Offensive Rookie of the Year as well as the rushing record for the season. Hunt was dubbed the nickname Kareem “The Dream” Hunt and was a nightmare for any defense.
Hunt was part of the tide shift for the Chiefs to become a legitimate contender. Hunt’s time in Kansas City would only last one more season before off-field issues led to his release from the team. In his short tenure in KC, Hunt became one of the best Chiefs rookies to ever wear the Chiefs uniform. I could not imagine how high-powered the Chiefs offense today would be with the rookie version of Kareem Hunt at running back.
Which all-time Chiefs offensive rookie is your favorite? Leave a comment down below to join the discussion.
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