The five best pass catchers in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs

There are a lot of players who played receiver for the Chiefs over their entire history, but here are the five best.

With 60 years of history for the Kansas City Chiefs, there have been plenty of players who have caught a ball. A lot of the pass catchers for the Chiefs had great careers and had long careers elsewhere, but there are only five pass catchers I want to talk about. The biggest problem with narrowing down a list of pass catchers is what makes these players so great; mainly what are the criteria?

For me, it was narrowing down to where they stood statistically in the history of the franchise, what they did with career accolades, and if they have the possibility of breaking a lot of the team records if they are still playing. I used Pro Football Reference for all of my statistics research and it helped me with my ranking of all of these players. 

Here are the players I think are the five greatest pass catchers in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs.

5. Dwayne Bowe – WR (2007-2014)

Probably one of the most talented receivers to ever play for the Chiefs, Dwayne Bowe seemed to be a future great when he was drafted in 2007. However, Bowe played on some of the worst Chiefs teams ever during his tenure and never had a consistent quarterback during his time in Kansas City. During Bowe’s Chiefs career, he caught passes from Brodie Croyle, Tyler Thigpen, Tyler Palco, Kyle Orton, Matt Cassel, Chase Daniel, and finally Alex Smith. Only two of those quarterbacks led their teams to the playoffs (Cassel and Smith) and only one of them had a tenure longer than 3 years (Smith). 

Dwayne Bowe had career years in 2008, 2010, and 2011, he was clearly the best receiver on the team where they didn’t have a lot of talent at the receiver position. Bowe finished his career as the fourth leading receiver in yards, seventh in touchdowns, and third in receptions in Chiefs history. He would be the prototypical possession receiver like JuJu Smith-Schuster, Cooper Kupp, or Tyreek Hill today and was honestly underrated in his time on the Chiefs. Bowe really would have been perfect in the more modern Andy Reid system if he wasn’t let go after the 2014 season. 

Still one of the best catches in Chiefs history

Bowe is the lowest ranking here because he was inconsistent and played on some of the worst teams the Chiefs ever had. He would have been higher if he could have made multiple Pro Bowls or All-Pro selections but he never was able to crack through those ranks.

4. Tyreek Hill – WR (2016-Present)

Do we have time to run Wasp?

There was only one guy Mahomes trusted to catch the game-breaking play, Tyreek Hill. 

Hill was the founding member of the “Legion of Zoom” with Mecole Hardman and Sammy Watkins. Even before that, he was the fastest receiver in the league and a game-breaking receiver for the Chiefs. Hill made the check-down Chiefs an explosive unit with Alex Smith and then took off with Patrick Mahomes under center. He had his best season ever in Patrick Mahomes’ first season in 2018 with 87 receptions for 1,479 yards with 12 touchdowns. 

Hill will probably go down as the most prolific receiver to ever put on a Chiefs uniform, he has great hands, great playmaking skills, and of course, his amazing speed. It also helps that he has the greatest quarterback in franchise history in Patrick Mahomes, throwing to him in his prime years. Mahomes and Hill have a great connection, connecting for long pass after long pass in the past three seasons, and it will only get better as they play together longer.

Insane catch by Cheetah

In his five years in Kansas City, Hill is already in the top ten in almost every statistical category.  He is ninth all-time in receiving yards, sixth in touchdowns, and ninth in receptions in Chiefs history, which is saying a lot with only five years of work under his belt. He can move to sixth all-time in yards this season by getting 1,000 yards and get to the top three in touchdowns with three more touchdowns this season. If he can stay healthy for three more seasons he can probably be in the top three in every category in Chiefs history. 

He’s at four on the list because his career isn’t over yet, he will finish his career as the best receiver for the Chiefs. He has a Super Bowl ring, is seen as the most dangerous receiver in the current NFL, and has all of the potential to get a Gold Jacket.

But the next guy on this list should be enshrined in Canton and is currently the best receiver in the history of the franchise.

3. Otis Taylor – WR (1965-1975)

Otis Taylor deserves to be wearing a Gold Jacket and have a bust in Canton, Ohio. Sadly, he doesn’t, and it’s really shocking considering just how good he was in his career.

Otis Taylor is the best receiver in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs, he was the original deep ball threat in the Chiefs’ glory days of the late 1960s- through the early 1970s. He caught balls from the Hall of Famer Len Dawson and put the first Super Bowl in Chiefs history out of reach of the Minnesota Vikings on this play.

Otis Taylor played at the small black college Prairie View A&M Panthers and helped the Panthers get two national titles before he was drafted by the Chiefs in the American Football League Draft in 1965. Back in those days, there were two football leagues (the AFL and NFL) and thus two drafts, so the players had scouts coming to their houses to sign them. Otis was also drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles and in a very famous story, an Eagles’ scout was “babysitting him” on the night of both drafts and Taylor escaped the NFL scout to go meet with the Chiefs’ scouts to sign with Kansas City.

Taylor’s signing helped the Chiefs immediately into contention. He was revolutionary in the history of football due to his size and speed. He was the first “Megatron” if you will, he was 6-foot-4, 215 pounds in an era where most receivers were not much taller than 6-foot in most cases. He was able to make contested catches and run by defenders with ease. He was the best receiver in the AFL outside of Hall of Famer Lance Alworth and helped the Chiefs reach Super Bowl I and IV before the league merged in 1970.

Taylor finished his career as the team leader in every career receiving record, he still has the third-most yards, fifth in receptions, is still second in Touchdowns, and has an outstanding 17.8 yards per reception which is 34th all-time in NFL history. He went to two Pro Bowls, was a two-time first-team All-Pro, was an AFL All-Star, two-time All-AFL, was a two-time AFL Champion, and finally a Super Bowl Champion. All of those accolades and he still cannot crack the Hall of Fame.

Otis Taylor is sadly still not enshrined in Canton, but the two players above him all but have their gold jackets already.

2. Travis Kelce – TE (2013- Present)

Travis Kelce is the best tight end in the game currently, it’s not much of an argument if you want to try to make one. Kittle is an amazing tight end, he is on track to be one of the greats in the game’s history, but he doesn’t have the Gold Jacket already awaiting him, Travis Kelce does. 

The vocal leader

Kelce was seen as a project at the tight end position coming out of Cincinnati in 2013, he was drafted in the third round by Kansas City and got put on the injured reserve in his rookie year after he had to get surgery on his knee. But then he started to get acclimated quickly, in the 2014 season he led the team in yards for the first time and had five touchdowns. He quickly became Alex Smith’s favorite target and helped the Chiefs become a consistent playoff team in the mid-2010s. But the Chiefs were never able to really get over the hump until they got Patrick Mahomes under center and took Kelce’s game to new heights. 

Over the past six seasons, Kelce has made the Pro Bowl every year and has been three-time All-Pro. He has also had an NFL Record five straight 1,000 receiving yards by a tight end and has revolutionized how the tight end has been utilized in the league. In the past decade, only Gronkowski has had more impact than Kelce at tight end, Kelce has made the tight end as the number one receiver a viable option in the NFL. He is not the best athlete at the position or has the best hands, but is consistently great. Kelce isn’t a member of the “Legion of Zoom” but he doesn’t need to be, he only has to be consistent and had the best season for a tight end in NFL history last season.

Kelce is a Super Bowl Champion, two-time AFC Champion, six-time Pro Bowler, and three-time first-team All-Pro, in his career with the Kansas City Chiefs. Kelce has the second-most Pro Bowl selections on this list and would be the most decorated player on this list if it wasn’t for the greatest statistical tight end in the history of the NFL being right above him.

His TD catch in Super Bowl LIV

I know many people will be shocked I’m putting him at number two, but just hear me out, Kelce is an amazing player and should be the greatest tight end in the history of the franchise but there is one who seems almost untouchable, unflappable in his greatness.

  1. Tony Gonzalez – TE  (1997-2008)

This is super nostalgic for any of the Chiefs fans who remember those late 90’s or early 00’s Chiefs teams. He probably was the first jersey of many a young Chiefs fan, I knew hundreds of kids who had a number 88 jersey growing up (I had Will Shields jersey). Tony Gonzalez was a fan favorite in Kansas City, but he’s not just a hometown favorite, he was the best pass catcher in the business. 

He was purely unstoppable and unguardable in his prime, which lasted his entire career. He never had a down year as a Chief and caught passes from Elvis Grbac, Rich Gannon, Warren Moon, Trent Green, Brodie Croyle, and Tyler Thigpen. He never had consecutive 1,000-yard seasons like Travis Kelce, but always had the constant numbers which made him the best tight end of all time. It says a lot when you catch passes from some of the worst quarterbacks in franchise history and still break all of the tight-end records.

The reason Gonzalez is above Kelce on this list is mainly that he owns all of the statistical receiving records in Chiefs history and he owns some of those records by a large margin. He has  10,940 yards, 76 touchdowns, and 916 receptions, which were all records by a tight end at the time. He retired with the fifth-most receiving yards, eighth-most receiving touchdowns, and second-most receptions in NFL history.

Gonzalez never was able to win a Super Bowl in his historic career, but the man had all of the other accomplishments you would want out of the best pass catcher in your team’s history. He was selected to 10 All-Pro teams, was a 14 time Pro Bowl selection, Pro Football Hall of Fame first ballot, and was selected to the NFL 100th anniversary All-Time team. There was and never will be a better pure pass catcher in the history of the team, in my opinion, but Kelce and Hill still haven’t finished out their careers in Kansas City.

Tony Gonzalez was the greatest tight end in the history of football, statistically, and is the best pass catcher in the history of the Kansas City Chiefs.