KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs’ chances of drafting a wide receiver in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft are pretty slim.
In the Chiefs’ history, they have only drafted five receivers in the first round: Elmo Wright (1971), Anthony Hancock (1982), Sylvester Morris (2000), Dwayne Bowe (2007) and Jon Baldwin (2011).
The most productive of the bunch, Bowe, played for the Chiefs for eight seasons and amassed 532 catches, 7,155 yards and 44 touchdowns; in 2010, he had the best year of his career tallying 1,162 yards and his 15 touchdowns led the NFL, and got him named to the Pro Bowl and a spot on the Second Team All-Pro.
The LSU alum is fourth in franchise receiving yards and seventh in touchdowns etching his name permanently into Chiefs history.
But Bowe is the supreme outlier.
Of the five first-round receivers, three of them (Bowe, Hancock, Wright) surpassed 1,000+ career receiving yards with the Chiefs and two of them surpassed more than four seasons with the team.
Hancock only played five years in the NFL, all with the Chiefs, and in his best season (1983) he only tallied 37 catches for 584 yards and one touchdown. Wright spent five seasons in the NFL, (the first four with the Chiefs) and his best year in Kansas City was his rookie year in 1971 with 26 catches, 528 yards and three touchdowns.
Morris and Baldwin are the two more disappointing tales of first-round receivers in Kansas City.
Morris spent four seasons in the NFL (first three with the Chiefs) but only played in his rookie season before knee injuries prevented him from game action. In his lone season, he tallied quality numbers with 48 catches, 678 yards and three touchdowns.
Baldwin spent four seasons in the league (first two with the Chiefs) and only tallied 41 catches, 579 yards and two touchdowns.
The Chiefs’ most productive pass catchers ever are tight ends Tony Gonzalez (first-round pick) and Travis Kelce (third-round pick). Of the top 15 most productive wide receivers in franchise history, only two were drafted in the first round: Eddie Kennison and Derrick Alexander.
But Chiefs fans should not fret if the team doesn’t draft a wide receiver in the first round. Most of the Chiefs’ production in the past 10 years has been receivers drafted outside of the first round.
Jeremy Maclin and Sammy Watkins were first-round draft picks that signed with the Chiefs from other teams.
Tyreek Hill (fifth round), Albert Wilson (undrafted), Demarcus Robinson (fourth round), Byron Pringle (undrafted) and Mecole Hardman (second round) were all key wide receivers that the Chiefs did not draft in the first round.
On the current roster, first-round picks John Ross and Kadarius Toney arrived in Kansas City after being drafted by different teams.
In this year’s draft class, the Chiefs have been rumored to have a few wide receivers visit the including TCU’s Quentin Johnston, who is highly regarded as a first-round pick. The Chiefs met with several potential first-round picks at the NFL Combine including Tennessee’s Jalin Hyatt.
While history proves otherwise, general manager Brett Veach and the Chiefs’ front office staff have made moves either during the draft or after the draft to attain a player that they liked throughout the process (see Kadarius Toney).
A first-round wide receiver may not be automatic but getting productive pass catchers is not dependent on the draft.