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Kansas City Chiefs Profit From NFL's Biggest Personnel Oversights

The Chiefs have prospered from personnel mistakes by both the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Ravens.

While the NFL Lockout continues, ESPN and Football Outsiders are running a series of columns of various Top 10 lists designed to stir up discussion and interest in the down time for NFL fans. Their latest round includes the Top 10 Most Disappointing Oversights -- think personnel moves/mistakes -- of the last 25 years. Their list includes some very interesting entries, including the Falcons letting go of Brett Favre and the Bucs doing the same with Steve Young. Even the Raiders join in with their release of Mike Shanahan as head coach.

The Chiefs come into the picture at No. 5 with their eventual find of Priest Holmes, the former 1,000 yard running back who somehow fell out of favor despite his success so the Ravens could feature Errict Rhett instead. Brian McIntyre tells the story:

After the Baltimore Ravens signed Holmes as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Texas in 1997, he provided a glimpse of what he was capable of in a feature role during the 1998 season, when he ran for 1,008 yards and seven touchdowns, ranking 18th among NFL running backs with 53 rushing DYAR, one spot behind 1997 Pro Bowler Warrick Dunn. Despite that impressive season, Holmes sat behind Errict Rhett in 1999, and in 2000 the Ravens used their first-round pick on Tennessee running back Jamal Lewis.

After the Chiefs signed Holmes during the next offseason, he led the NFL in rushing yards in 2001, yards from scrimmage in 2001 and 2002 and rushing and total touchdowns in 2002 and 2003. In addition to three straight Pro Bowls and All-Pro teams, Holmes ranked first among NFL running backs in DYAR and DVOA in 2001 and 2002 and was first in DYAR and third in DVOA in 2003. Holmes was well on his way toward another Pro Bowl/All-Pro season in 2004 before suffering a serious hip injury in Week 9. A head and neck injury in 2005 caused Holmes to miss the entire 2006 season. He returned in October 2007 but retired a month later.


The Chiefs also inherited from the Dallas Cowboys' mistake as well with their release of current left guard Brian Waters. For over a decade, the Pro Bowl lineman has been a staple for KC's vaunted rushing attacks -- something Dallas could have used this entire time.

Undrafted out of North Texas, Waters went to training camp with the Cowboys as a rookie in 1999 but was waived in September and spent his first professional season at home. The Chiefs signed him in January 2000, and he entered the starting lineup on a permanent basis in Week 11 of the 2001 season. In the past 10 seasons, the five-time Pro Bowler has started 149 (of a possible 151) games he's been active, blocking for 1,000-yard rushers seven times (Priest Holmes, three times; Larry Johnson, twice; and Jamaal Charles, twice) and earning five trips to the Pro Bowl and two first-team All-Pro selections. Waters was also the first offensive lineman to earn AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors (Week 7, 2004) and was named the NFL's Walter Payton Man of the Year in 2009.


Finally, it's interesting to note that the Chiefs have also had on their roster the player at No. 7 on the list in Mike Vrabel, who you might be surprised to know was originally drafted to be the next great Pittsburgh Steeler linebacker in the third round of the 1997 draft. The Patriots received the bulk of Vrabel's promise, of course, but it's another nice personnel find by Scott Pioli move to bring him over to the Chiefs to help establish the positive, winning culture that permeates the locker room today.