Building A Championship Roster: How The Chiefs Won Super Bowl LVIII

By Lucas Coronado

The Kansas City Chiefs have managed to be in the AFC Championship six times straight along with four super bowl appearances. Their success is largely due to quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but I’ll be diving deeper into the roster construction. I want to figure out how they have drafted and signed players to surround Mahomes and create a perennially successful team. *I will include all players that have played 300+ snaps this season:

Quarterback: Patrick Mahomes (2017 NFL Draft - Pick #10 Overall)

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Of course I will start on offense, specifically quarterback Patrick Mahomes. He has seen the most success of any player in history through his first seven years (six as a starter). Being able to pair him with head coach Andy Reid was a gift to anyone that likes watching offensive football. He has been incredible since being their starter and kudos to them for taking him at ten, even though they still had starter Alex Smith.

Running Back: Isiah Pacheco (2022 NFL Draft - Pick #252 Overall)

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Pacheco has been a pleasant surprise for the Chiefs, after falling to the seventh round of the 2022 draft. He has produced really well, which has been huge for the Chiefs this past season after we’ve seen them lean on the run game a lot more compared to past seasons. The offensive line has provided what they need in the run game, but Pacheco is able to create even more which is huge for the offense for getting this kind of production out of a day three draft pick.

Wide Receivers

Rashee Rice (2023 NFL Draft, Pick #56 Overall)

Marquez Valdes-Scantling (2022 Free Agency – 3 year, $30m Deal)

Justin Watson (2023 Free Agency – 2 year, $3.4m Deal)

Skyy Moore (2022 NFL Draft – Pick #54 Overall)

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The Chiefs receiving room has certainly been the most disappointing group on the team. They struggled mightily during the regular season and never truly seemed to get too much steam going into the playoffs. Obviously they didn’t need to be fantastic for them to win another super bowl as they did enough to get it done. This is the position that I am most interested in seeing how the chiefs try to improve at the position.

Tight Ends

Travis Kelce (2013 NFL Draft – Pick #63 Overall)

Noah Gray (2021 NFL Draft – Pick #162 Overall)

Blake Bell (2021 Free Agency – 3 year, $3.555m deal)

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The Chiefs ran a lot of plays with multiple tight ends on the field, allowing them to have slightly bigger and better blockers in the run game as opposed to having receivers on the field. Travis Kelce has been the best in the league which has been a huge factor in the teams success. We will see if they end up trying to embrace multiple tight end sets next year as they did this season.

One thing to note is that Blake Bell has signed three straight, one year deals. At 32 years old and another one-year deal expired, it will be interesting to see if the Chiefs try to re-sign him as he has played at a decent level.

Offensive Line

Creed Humphrey (2021 NFL Draft – Pick #63 Overall)

Jawaan Taylor (2023 Free Agency – 4 year, $80m Deal)

Trey Smith (2021 NFL Draft – Pick #226 Overall)

Joe Thuney (2021 Free Agency – 5 year, $80m Deal)

Donovan Smith (2023 Free Agency – 1 year, $3m Deal)

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The offensive line seemed to be consistently fairly good. According to PFF, the interior graded a lot better than the tackles, but the lack of discipline from Jawaan Taylor seemed to play a role in this. Taylor had been getting away with getting into his pass protection a half second early, but starting this season, he was called for a number of false starts because of it. The Chiefs have built a solid line without sinking too many assets into the positions.

Defensive Line

George Karlaftis (2022 NFL Draft – Pick #30 Overall)

Mike Danna (2022 NFL Draft – Pick #177 Overall)

Charles Omenihu (2023 Free Agency – 2 year, $16m Deal)

Chris Jones (2016 NFL Draft – Pick #37 Overall)

Tershawn Wharton (2020 NFL Draft – UDFA)

Derrick Nnadi (2018 NFL Draft – Pick #75 Overall)

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This group is headlined by Chris Jones and rightfully so. He brings incredible versatility to this defense that is unrivaled by anyone else in the league. He can play anywhere along the defensive line, predominantly at defensive tackle, with around 460 snaps, but also logged about 340 at defensive end.

They’ve drafted really well at this position and have mined solid production out of each of these players. Karlaftis is the only one that may have not met expectations as he is a first rounder, but he is still young and has shown tremendous improvement over his rookie year. Felix Anudike-Uzomah is the other first rounder they’ve taken at defensive line and he has shown flashes. He only played 225 snaps, but should be able to produce more after gaining experience.


Drue Tranquill (2023 Free Agency – 1 year, $3m Deal)

Nick Bolton (2021 NFL Draft – Pick #58 Overall)

Willie Gay (2020 NFL Draft – Pick #63 Overall)

Leo Chenal (2022 NFL Draft – Pick #103 Overall)

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The Chiefs have drafted what seems to be a good trio of linebackers that have been improving together over the past couple of seasons. They still have room to grow and the recent one-year signing of Drue Tranquill was huge to help out the young guns in this linebacker room.

They all have different skill sets and the defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo has done a fantastic job of allowing each of them to play to their strengths and not letting their weaknesses get exposed. Leo Chenal (pronounced “Chanel” for some reason) is a bigger backer that is best against the run and has been amazing in his role as a run defender without needing to do much else, while the other backers are more “modern” backers that can do it all. Once they’re all able to read and diagnose the offensive plays quicker, the heart of this defense will be fantastic.


Justin Reid (2022 Free Agency – 3 year. $31.5m Deal)

Mike Edwards (2023 Free Agency – 1 year, $3m Deal)

Bryan Cook (2022 NFL Draft – Pick #62 Overall)

Chamarri Conner (2023 NFL Draft – Pick #119 Overall)

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Safety seems to be a position the Chiefs haven’t really thrown many darts at as they’ve chosen to just go the free agency route. They have thrown their more premium assets into more premium positions and it seems to have been working for them. Conner could end up being a big time player for them as he has shown that he is able to play slot corner as well as at both deep safety and box safety at an above average level as a rookie.


L’Jarius Sneed (2020 NFL Draft – Pick #138 Overall)

Trent McDuffie (2023 NFL Draft – Pick #29 Overall)

Jaylen Watson (2022 NFL Draft – Pick #243 Overall)

Joshua Williams (2022 NFL Draft – Pick #135 Overall)

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Cornerback seems to be one of the more premium positions that the Chiefs seem to draft in volume. Their most prevalent starters at the position are all still very young and play quite well together. Mcduffie works mostly in the slot and is one of the best in the game at the position. I truly believe that without Mcduffie, the Chiefs don’t win the super bowl, or even make it there without him. He played incredibly well against the 49ers and just had multiple huge pass breakups.

How Did They Get Here?

Chiefs General Manager Brett Veach has been with the team since 2017 and built a powerhouse of a team. Most of the success is due to quarterback Patrick Mahomes, but he has done a great job of surrounding him with talent since then. Even after the departure of Tyreek Hill, one of the best receivers in the league, they are still able to win super bowls by being able to play to their new strengths.

The Chiefs have spent a lot of assets on the most important positions and found players to be at least average to fill all the other holes. They have found great players in the early rounds and I have to tip my cap at their ability to find great talent in the later rounds as well.

Feature Image: Associated Press

Lucas Coronado

NFL Analyst

An extremely passionate football fan, Lucas loves getting into th schematics of the game, and has covered the NFL since 2020. Follow him on Twitter @LucasCoronado10.