The folks at ESPN publish a listing of who they believe will be the top 100 players in the NFL prior to every season, and with the 2019 campaign nearly here, it's no surprise that the Kansas City Chiefs appear early and often in this year’s rankings.
In fact, the Chiefs' seven representatives match the New Orleans Saints for the most of any team in the NFL.
Quarterback Patrick Mahomes is the first member of the Chiefs to check in on the list, doing so at No. 2 behind only Los Angeles Rams' defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Mahomes' remarkable 2018 season – which earned him league MVP honors – was simply one of the best by a quarterback in NFL history, and the arrow seems to only be pointing up for the 23-year-old signal caller.
Here's what ESPN's Adam Teicher had to say about Mahomes in the story:
"The most amazing part of Mahomes' 2018 season wasn't that he became only the second player to throw for 50 touchdown passes and 5,000 yards. It's that he did it in his first season as a starter and at age 23. Mahomes should only keep improving this season and into the future."
Mahomes' most-productive target through the air is the next familiar face to appear, as wide receiver Tyreek Hill received the nod at No. 16. The electric Hill hauled in 87 catches for 1,479 yards and 12 touchdowns a year ago, establishing himself as one of the top receivers in the NFL while jumping 59 spots from last year's ranking.
Tight end Travis Kelce is next for Kansas City at No. 18, which is the highest ranking for any player at his position and up four spots from last year. Kelce put together one of the best seasons ever by a tight end in 2018, catching a franchise-record 103 passes for 1,336 yards and 10 touchdowns. All three marks were career highs and Kelce's yardage total was the second-highest ever by a tight end.
Check out this "signature stat" mentioned in the article that helps demonstrate just how productive – and efficient – Kelce was a year ago.
"Last season, only 36% of Kelce's snaps came from the slot, but he had 854 receiving yards from there, the second most of any receiver."
On the other side of the ball, defensive tackle Chris Jones checked in at No. 40 on the list a year after ranking third in the NFL with 15.5 sacks while defensive end Frank Clark, who the Chiefs acquired this offseason from Seattle, was listed at No. 58.
Safety Tyrann Mathieu, another one of the Chiefs' marquee additions on defense this year, also made it in the rankings at No. 86.
Here's what Teicher had to say about the veteran defensive back.
"The Chiefs prioritized Mathieu, who has 13 interceptions and seven sacks in his six NFL seasons, in free agency because of his versatility. 'There were a lot of safeties out there, but I don't think there are many safeties out there that can really do everything on the field [like Mathieu],' GM Brett Veach said."
All-Pro offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz rounds out the list for Kansas City at No. 92 after yet another stellar season in 2018. Schwartz is the model of consistent excellence, having never missed a snap in his seven-year career while earning praise as one of the best right tackles in the NFL.
The article's "signature stat" on Schwartz only demonstrated that further.
"Schwartz had a pass block win rate of 86.7% including the playoffs last season, which ranked eighth among tackles with at least 300 blocks."
The Chiefs are one of the NFL's most-talented teams, plain and simple, and they'll soon have their chance to show it on the field. Check out the full rankings by clicking here.