It’s hard to imagine you don’t know the names of superstars Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelsey, but which Chiefs player is the team’s best kept secret?
The Kansas City Chiefs have appeared in four consecutive AFC Championship games and won six consecutive AFC West titles, largely thanks to the presence of true superstars in quarterback Patrick Mahomes, tight end Travis Kelsey and defenseman Chris Jones.
In addition to these big three, Kansas City has several notable players starting on the offensive line. The formidable front line includes several players considered among the best in their position, including veteran guard Joe Tooney, outstanding sophomore guard Trey Smith and center Creed Humphrey, and franchise tag left tackle Orlando Brown Jr. This group is so strong that ESPN predicts they will be the best in all of football this season.
Over the past few years, the team has also added several other players who have become well known among fans and in NFL circles in general. In this group of players, players like guard Frank Clark and wide receiver Juju Smith-Shuster come to mind.
But among all the many players that stand out, who are the biggest names that don’t stand out? What are the best-kept secrets of the Chiefs roster for the 2022 season?
5. James Winchester, Harrison Butker, Tommy Townsend, Specialists
Independently of each other, long shooter James Winchester, kicker Harrison Butker and player Tommy Townsend are among the best in their positions in the entire NFL. However, collectively, they make up the top three specialists in the league, and we almost never talk about them.
That Butker didn’t make a Pro Bowl or All-Pro team after five seasons is a little insulting. The 6th year kicker boasts a 90.123% field goal percentage, enough for the second-best record in NFL history. Unfortunately (for Butker’s hopes for a postseason honor), the owner of the top spot in this historical statistic is fellow footballer Justin Tucker of the Baltimore Ravens.
Player Tommy Townsend is another often overlooked part of the Chiefs’ overall success. But in 2021, the (then) sophomore had a 47.2 yards-per-flat average, which would put him third all-time in that category if he expanded over his career. Perhaps the reason the former Florida Alligator is still overlooked is because he is so underdeveloped by Kansas City’s consistently productive offense. Admittedly, his first preseason game was a bit erratic, including one in which he swam for less than 30 yards. But the sample size is small, and we tend to believe the whole work rather than one pointless game.
James Winchester is so good at being a trucker that he literally made a whole career out of it. Literally because of this. It is truly remarkable that in seven NFL seasons and innumerable punt/field goal/extra point snaps, Winchester has only had one fumble to his credit – a credit spot on an incredible career in 2019.
Kansas City is lucky to have such a strong collection of talent focused on some of the most important positions in the game. While heavily underrated, kicking play is vital to a team’s long-term success and in inch play can often be the deciding factor in the competition, either by changing position on the field or scoring decisive field goals. Not having to worry about these areas of the game has become a luxury that we most often take for granted.