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Building Blocks of Success: The Moves That Built the Super Bowl IV Champion Chiefs

The 2023 NFL Draft is nearly here

Anyone who has followed the Chiefs for any time can point to the club's efforts in adding players through the annual draft as one reason for their success, particularly in the early years of the American Football League.

More than unrestricted free agency which didn't appear until 1993, the draft, developing players already on the roster, adding a player who had been released by another team and, yes, the occasional trade have been profitable ways of building a winning roster for Kansas City, as history has taught us.

Mack Rankin, a Hunt Oil associate, Don Klosterman, who came over to the Chiefs after helping build the Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers into a champion, and Lloyd Wells, the first full-time African-American scout in professional football history, were the men most responsible for drafting or signing players who would eventually give the franchise its first world championship.

Klosterman was a natural fast-talking salesman who, although white, had fashioned strong relationships among the black community, according to Rankin, who had helped team founder Lamar Hunt in his early attempts to procure college players. Wells, on the other hand, had inroads at traditional black colleges and universities and gave the Chiefs advantages that other professional teams could only hope to have or had altogether ignored.

The 1963 Chiefs draft class was one that has never been replicated, or likely can be with the exception of some of the later Pittsburgh Steelers' classes in the 1970s, and included Buck Buchanan, Ed Budde, Bobby Bell, Jerrel Wilson and Dave Hill. In the midst of a war for players with the older NFL, these drafts and signings gave the franchise an edge that it was never to repeat once the two leagues merged.

To get some idea of the riches the Chiefs realized from the club's acquisition of players, consider the following list of key picks, trades and signings up to and including the 1969 championship season. As innovative as coach Hank Stram was, these players helped propel him to the status of a Pro Football Hall of Fame coach.


Johnny Robinson was taken in the first group of the original AFL draft and was later selected to the AFL's all- time team and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Chris Burford was also taken in the grouping that composed the first AFL draft. Both he and Robinson are in the Chiefs Hall of Fame.


EJ Holub (#1), Jim Tyrer (#3), Jerry Mays (#5), Fred Arbanas (#7). Tyrer, Mays and Arbanas were later selected to the AFL's all-time team that was named at the time of the merger. All are in the Chiefs Hall of Fame.


Len Dawson (signed as a free agent), Curtis McClinton, drafted as a future pick in 1961 and joined the team this year. Both are in the team's Hall of Fame and Dawson was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Buck Buchanan (#1), Ed Budde (#1), Bobby Bell (#7), Jerrel Wilson (#11), Dave Hill (#24). All are in the team's Hall of Fame. Budde, Bell and Wilson were later named to the AFL's all-time team. Buchanan and Bell were elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.


Ed Lothamer (#4), Willie Mitchell (signed as a free agent.) Lothamer and Mitchell were starters from 1965-68.


Otis Taylor (#4), Frank Pitts (#4), Chuck Hurston (acquired on waivers). Taylor is in the Chiefs' Hall of Fame.


Aaron Brown (#1), Emmitt Thomas (signed as a free agent), Mike Garrett (#20), Jan Stenerud (drafted as a future pick with one year remaining in college). Thomas and Stenerud are in the team's Hall of Fame and would become members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Garrett was named to the Chiefs Hall of Fame.


Willie Lanier (#2), Jim Lynch (#2), Curley Culp (acquired through a trade), Jim Kearney (signed as a free agent), Goldie Sellers (acquired in a trade), Wendell Hayes (acquired in a trade), Remi Prudhomme (acquired in a trade). Lanier and Culp were later elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame and are in the Chiefs' Hall of Fame along with Lynch.


Mo Moorman (#1), George Daney (#1), Mike Livingston (#2), Robert Holmes (#14).


Jim Marsalis (#1), Ed Podolak (#2), Bob Stein (#8), Warren McVea (acquired in a trade). Podolak is in the Chiefs Hall of Fame.

With only nine other competitors for talent in the 10-team AFL, and with Hunt's deep pockets, the franchise was able to compete successfully with the NFL and through some smart trades – most of them early draft picks – add to the roster other components to create a championship contender. All totaled, 10 of the players listed above were named to the all-time AFL team and/or Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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