Digital Content Editor
link-placeholder-0], [link-placeholder-1], [Chris Jones and many of the usual Kansas City Chiefs suspects drew rightful acclaim for their odyssey to Super Bowl LVII triumph.
However, the Chiefs’ stars were buoyed by a 2022 NFL Draft class that will now go down as one of the most successful in league chronicle.
Led by four rookie Super Bowl starters, the Chiefs’ 2022 class of first-year players combined for 61 starts this season, the most since 1991 for a Super Bowl winner, according to NFL Research.
From first-rounder Trent McDuffie
While AFC West rivals the Los Angeles Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders and Denver Broncos grabbed headlines in the offseason with big-name free-agent signings and trades, the Chiefs replenished their roster with what is now a celebrated group of rookies.
Kansas City general manager Brett Veach turned in a masterful draft performance.
The four rookie starters — Karlaftis, McDuffie, Pacheco and Watson — are tied for the most in Super Bowl history with the 2016 Atlanta Falcons and 2010 Green Bay Packers.
Most starts by first-year players on Super Bowl-winning teams (since 1991)
Impressive and historic as the quartet of starters are, Veach’s draft is truly remarkable for the contributions made from selections in nearly each round.
In total, Chiefs rookies played in 161 games, the third-most by a Super Bowl winner in history.
Most games played by first-year players on Super Bowl-winning teams in NFL history
Karlaftis led the way, as the No. 30-overall pick started all 20 Kansas City games and posted seven sacks. The defensive end became just the ninth rookie since the 1970 merger to start 20 or more games.
Picked nine spots ahead of Karlaftis, McDuffie repaid the Chiefs for trading up to get him. He started in each of the 14 games he played in.
Second-rounder Skyy Moore
Linebacker Leo Chenal, taken in the third round at No. 103, tallied eight starts and also contributed in the Super Bowl with a sack.
Plucked in the fourth round, cornerback Joshua Williams made a quartet of starts and had a crucial interception in the AFC Championship Game.
Then came the seventh-round contributions, where Leach struck gold with two major contributors.
Picked at No. 243, Watson started six games in the regular season, played in 16 and hauled in a 99-yard pick-six for the game-winning score in a Week 2 victory over the rival Chargers. During the playoffs, Watson started each game for the Chiefs and recorded two interceptions, coming up clutch in each of Kansas City’s first two wins.
Finally there was Pacheco, a certifiable steal at No. 251 overall. The hard-running, high-energy back led the Chiefs with 830 rushing yards — the most for a Chiefs RB since 2017 — and five rushing scores. Pacheco capped his rookie campaign with 15 carries for 76 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl. He teamed up with Moore to make the Chiefs the first team to have multiple rookies score in the biggest of big games, per NFL Research.
It was the culmination of a draft class for the ages.
What lies ahead for the Chiefs’ 2022 draft class obviously remains to be seen, but it’s a collection of talent that’s already made history and led to Kansas City celebrating another Super Bowl triumph. Perhaps it’s fitting the 2023 NFL Draft will take place in Kansas City, because the Chiefs most certainly took home an all-time haul last year.
NFL.com keeps you up to date with all of the latest league news from around the NFL. Visit NFL.com’s transaction hub for a daily breakdown.
Bud Grant, a legendary Vikings head coach and pro Football Hall of Famer, died at the age of 95 on Saturday morning, the team announced.
Rams coach Sean McVay said Friday that he was grateful for the team allowing him to recommit to coaching for the long term following two straight offseasons of contemplating his future.
Free-agent wide receiver Odell Beckham held a workout at Arizona State’s practice facility on Friday for a number of NFL teams as free agency looms.
The Houston Texans are signing wide receiver Robert Woods to a two-year, $15.25 million contract with $10 fully million guaranteed and a max value of $17 million, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday.
As trade rumors continue swirling around quarterback Aaron Rodgers, Packers president and CEO Mark Murphy expressed that he could see the QB back in Green Bay in 2023 if “things don’t work out the way we would want.”
The Bears are trading the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft to the Carolina Panthers in exchange for wide receiver D.J. Moore, the 2023 No. 9 overall pick, a 2023 second-round pick, a first-round selection in 2024 and a second in 2025, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Friday.
The Rams released outside linebacker Leonard Floyd after his third season with the club, the team announced Friday.
Patriots safety Devin McCourty, who won three Super Bowls with New England, announced his retirement on Friday.
Miami has informed Tua Tagovailoa it is picking up the quarterback’s fifth-year option, NFL Network Insider Mike Garafolo reported Friday.
As safety Kareem Jackson approaches free agency, he still believes he offers value to a prospective team — especially one expecting to contend for a title. “Definitely, definitely. Year 14, obviously would love for the payday to be right,” Jackson said during a Friday appearance on Good Morning Football.
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy finally has had elbow surgery. NFL Network Insider Mike Garafolo reported Friday that Purdy underwent successful surgery on his elbow.
You won’t want to miss a moment of the 2022 season!
NFL+ gives you the freedom to watch LIVE out-of-market preseason games, LIVE local and primetime regular season and postseason games on your phone or tablet, the best NFL programming on-demand, and MORE!
© 2023 NFL Enterprises LLC. NFL and the NFL shield design are registered trademarks of the National Football League.The team names, logos and uniform designs are registered trademarks of the teams indicated. All other NFL-related trademarks are trademarks of the National Football League. NFL footage © NFL Productions LLC.