Linebacker Derrick Thomas wasn't just a great pass-rusher for the Kansas City Chiefs. He changed the franchise's losing culture. The Chiefs drafted Thomas with the fourth overall pick of the 1989 draft, and in his rookie year they had just their third winning season in the previous 16. In his second season, 1990, the Chiefs began a run of seven playoff appearances in eight years, the most successful stretch in franchise history.
Why Thomas is best draft pick in Chiefs history: Thomas piled up some impressive numbers in his 11 seasons with the Chiefs before his untimely death in 2000. Thomas had 126.5 career sacks, 16th on the NFL's all-time list. He holds the NFL's single-game sacks record with seven, set in 1990 against the Seattle Seahawks. He shares with two other players second place on the list with six, set in 1998 against the Oakland Raiders. But he was far more than numbers. His arrival changed the Chiefs' losing culture. On game day, he carried an intimidating presence that opponents found difficult to deal with.
Bobby Bell, LB: For pure value, the Chiefs may never have done better than Bell. Their seventh-round pick (56th overall selection) in the 1963 AFL draft was one of the game's all-time great linebackers. He was a key member of Kansas City's defense on both of the Chiefs' Super Bowl teams.
Roger Staubach, QB: People say the Chiefs can't draft a good quarterback but here's proof otherwise. Alas, the Chiefs, who picked Staubach in the 16th round of the 1964 AFL draft, couldn't sign the former Heisman Trophy winner, who was also drafted by the Cowboys in the 1964 NFL draft. He would have changed the Chiefs' sorry QB history.
Tony Gonzalez, TE: The Chiefs' first-round draft pick in 1997 (13th overall) set the pass-receiving standards for his position. Gonzalez is far and away the leading tight end in career receptions (1,325) and yards (15,127). The regret of many Chiefs fans is that he spent the final five seasons of his 17-year NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons.
Jared Allen, DE: By the numbers, this fourth-round pick in 2004 was a better pass-rusher than Thomas. Allen, who recently retired after a 12-year career in which he also played for three other teams, had 136 career sacks. That's good for a ninth-place tie on the all-time list.