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Unleashing the Ultimate Trio: Chiefs’ Mahomes, Kelce, and Reid Rewrite the NFL’s All-Time Positional Greatness!

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Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce and Andy Reid are among the five or 10 greatest of all-time at their respective positions and they are once again threatening to add to their legacies with another possible Super Bowl run.

Last year, after the Chiefs’ thrilling 38-35 Super Bowl LVII win over the Eagles, I asked our staff to vote on where the trio ranks right now. Not what their trajectory is, but if they retire today, where do they stand? (The voters: Doug Clawson, Garrett Podell, Brett Anderson, Bryan DeArdo, Kevin Steimle, Jared Dubin, Zach Pereles, Jordan Dajani and Kyle Stackpole)

Their place in the games history did not change as a result of the 2023 regular season but they are once again on the doorstep of moving up in those conversations.

Here’s a look at last year’s vote and what’s at stake the rest of this postseason:

Top 10 Quarterbacks of all time

1. Tom Brady (unanimous)

2. Peyton Manning

3. Joe Montana

4. Patrick Mahomes

5. Aaron Rodgers

6. Dan Marino

7. Johnny Unitas

8. John Elway

9. Drew Brees

10. Brett Favre

Mahomes vote breakdown: No. 2 (1), No. 3 (2), No. 5 (2), No. 6 (3), No. 11 (1)

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According to our group of voters, Mahomes is on the Mount Rushmore of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. He was voted as high as second and as low as 11th, and the consensus has him as the fourth-greatest quarterback of all-time between Joe Montana and Aaron Rodgers. No surprise at the top, Tom Brady is the consensus GOAT, getting all nine first-place votes.

Case Mahomes should be higher

Mahomes has done something that no other player in the history of the NFL has done. Not even Brady, Manning or Montana — the three QBs ahead of him on this list. He has won two league MVPs and two Super Bowl MVPs in a five-season span. Now, there’s no way Mahomes has surpassed Brady as the GOAT, but you could argue his playoff resume is already more impressive than Manning’s (14-13 playoff record, two Super Bowls, one Super Bowl MVP) and his regular-season credentials are catching up to Montana’s, who is largely third here thanks to a perfect 4-0 record in the Super Bowl. Mahomes can make plays that no QB in the top three can make, and has a strong case for being the most talented quarterback of all time. It’ll be tough to move past Peyton Manning or Joe Montana with a Super Bowl win this year, but you could at least have the argument. And, he’s still on a trajectory to threaten Brady as the greatest of all-time

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Case Mahomes should be lower

He’s only been a full-time starter for six years, so is he really already a top-five quarterback? Aaron Rodgers might have something to say about that. Yes, Mahomes already has more rings and more conference championship trips than Rodgers does, but Rodgers also has four league MVPs, including back-to-back at ages 37 and 38. He belongs in the “most talented QB ever” discussion and has been doing it for much longer than Mahomes, as his 475 career touchdown passes suggest (Mahomes has 219). Johnny Unitas would also like a word. He has one more league MVP and championship (three of each) than Mahomes, was the NFL’s all-time leader in touchdown passes and yards when he retired, and practically invented the two-minute drill with his clutch play in the 1958 NFL Championship Game known as “the greatest game ever played.”

Top 5 Tight Ends of all time

1. Tony Gonzalez

2. Rob Gronkowski

3. Travis Kelce

4. Shannon Sharpe

5. Antonio Gates

Kelce vote breakdown: No. 2 (3), No. 3 (5), No. 4 (1)

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Kelce is the third-best tight end ever, according to our panel, behind Tony Gonzalez and Rob Gronkowski. None of our nine voters had Kelce as the greatest tight end ever, but all nine votes had him in the top four.

Case Kelce should be higher

It’s a tough sell that Kelce should be No. 1 here, Tony Gonzalez has both the prime and longevity that surpasses Kelce. Gonzalez led all tight ends in receiving yards in a season, seven times, to Kelce’s four. He has the sixth-most receiving yards (15,127) in NFL history (regardless of position). Kelce may surpass Tony G one day, but his best case may be ahead of Rob Gronkowski at No. 2. Kelce already has more career receiving yards than Gronk, and only Jerry Rice has more catches, receiving yards and touchdown grabs than Kelce in a playoff career. Kelce is the only tight end to lead a Super Bowl-winning team in receiving yards twice (he led the Chiefs in 2019 and 2022) and has had a ridiculous stretch of playoff games over the last few postseasons.

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Kelce has the same number of 1,000-yard seasons in his 30s as Gronk had in his career (four). The reason he doesn’t surpass Gronk in some people’s minds is due to Gronk’s sheer all-around dominance. He has the same number of first-team All-Pro selections as Kelce (four), has led all tight ends in receiving yards as many times as Kelce (four seasons), and is one of the best red zone threats in league history. When Gronk initially retired after the 2018 season, he had the third-most touchdown catches of any player before turning 30 in NFL history beyond only Randy Moss and Jerry Rice. He has 18 more career touchdowns than Kelce and is widely considered a better blocker. He also has more rings than Kelce. It’ll be interesting to see how productive Kelce is in the coming years and if he can eventually threaten Tony Gonzalez. This is the first year where it looked like Kelce was on the downside of his career in terms of health and production.

Case Kelce should be lower

Kelce’s career numbers are nearly identical to Shannon Sharpe’s in terms of Pro Bowl selections (nine vs. eight), first-team All-Pro selections (both four), receiving yards (both over 10K) and touchdown catches (Kelce 74 vs. Sharpe 62). Sharpe last played two decades ago when the NFL was hardly a passing league. He also won two championships with the Broncos and one with the Ravens, so a case could be made that he belongs ahead of Kelce. Another Super Bowl title for Kelce could squash that.

Top 10 head coaches of all time

1. Bill Belichick (unanimous)

2. Vince Lombardi

3. Don Shula

4. Bill Walsh

5. Chuck Noll

6. George Halas

7. Andy Reid

8. Tom Landry

9. Paul Brown

10. Joe Gibbs

Reid vote breakdown: No. 3 (1), No. 6 (3), No. 8 (2), No. 10 (3)

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Reid is the seventh-best head coach in NFL history, per our panel of nine voters. He was in the top 10 for every voter, and even as high as third. Like Brady at quarterback, Belichick was the unanimous No. 1, garnering all nine first-place votes.

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Case Reid should be higher

He is the only head coach in NFL history to hold the wins record for multiple franchises, proving even this run with one of the greatest QBs of all time (Mahomes) is no fluke, and Reid deserves his share of the credit. He made four straight NFC title games with the Eagles and has now made six straight AFC title games with the Chiefs, including two Super Bowl wins. He has the fourth-most regular-season wins in NFL history (258) and is considered one of the greatest offensive minds the league has ever seen (as Super Bowl LVII once again proved). He also has a very successful coaching tree (unlike Belichick) that features John Harbaugh, Doug Pederson, Sean McDermott and Ron Rivera, among others. He will be in the top five discussion with another title. George Halas, who we ranked sixth, won 318 games and six titles, but last coached in 1955 when there were 12 teams in the NFL. Reid also has 65 more regular-season wins than longtime Steelers coach Chuck Noll, who is fifth here.

Case Reid should be lower

Reid has zero Super Bowls and a losing playoff record (11-12) without Patrick Mahomes. However, by this logic, how is Bill Belichick the greatest coach ever? If there’s any reason Reid is lower, it has more to do with the coaches he is ranked ahead of. Joe Gibbs won three Super Bowls with Washington in the 80s, Tom Landry coached the Cowboys dynasty in the 70s and Bill Parcells coached two Super Bowl champions and has perhaps the best coaching tree of all time.

There you have it. Mahomes, Kelce and Reid are all firmly in the top 10 of all time and all borderline top five. Their legacies have made a big leap in the last year or so and can threaten the Mount Rushmore of their positions with another title. If this postseason is anything like the past ones, the difference between a Super Bowl and an early exit will be decided by the thinnest of margins. Last year, the Chiefs won the AFC Championship Game and Super Bowl on Harrison Butker field goals in the final 10 seconds following controversial (but correct) penalties.

 

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