The Chiefs’ Bill Kenney And The 1978 NFL Draft

Bill Kenney played quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1980 to 1988. He served as both the starting and backup quarterback at various points during his time in the league, and overall had a very successful career. He had come out of tiny University of Northern Colorado, drafted second to last in the 1978 NFL Draft, and was not given real high hopes of being a successful pro football quarterback. He was cut by the Dolphins the year he was drafted, but would make the roster of the Chiefs two years later as a backup and would work his way into the starting lineup.

The 1978 NFL Draft was rather unique in terms of how Bill Kenney performed compared to the other quarterbacks drafted ahead of him. Being taken in the 12th round with the next to last pick in the draft, Kenney was the last quarterback taken that year in the draft. Thirteen quarterbacks were selected ahead of him, but none finished their career with more passing yards, completions, or touchdowns than Bill Kenney.

The quarterbacks drafted ahead of Bill Kenney in the 1978 NFL Draft:

-Pat Ryan was taken out of Tennessee in the 11th round and had a longer career than Kenney, but was mostly a backup quarterback with the Jets.

-John Hurley had quarterbacked the University of Santa Clara and was drafted in the ninth round by the Redskins in 1978, he would not appear in an NFL game.

-Keith Myers was taken by Green Bay in the 9th round out of Utah State and would also never make an appearance in an NFL game.

-In the previous round, the 8th, Green Bay had first taken another quarterback, Arizona State’s Dennis Sproul. Sproul would play in just six games during his entire NFL career.

-The New Orleans Saints had selected Mike Rieker out of Lehigh University in the 6th round that year and he would never play in an NFL game.

-In the 5th round, the Cincinnati Bengals chose USC Trojans quarterback Rob Hertel who would only appear in three games during his NFL career.

-University of Maryland quarterback Mark Manges was chosen by the Los Angeles Rams in the 4th round of the 1978 NFL Draft, he would only see action in one game during his NFL career.

-Also selected in the 4th round of the draft that year was University of Missouri quarterback Pete Woods who was taken by the Chiefs. Woods would also never play a game in the NFL.

-In the 3rd round of the draft that year, the Houston Oilers would choose BYU star quarterback Gifford Nielsen. Nielsen would have a six year career and see action in 55 games during his career.

-The Cleveland Browns picked Bowling Green quarterback Mark Miller in the third round of the 1978 NFL Draft, his career would last just two seasons.

-Guy Benjamin was a good quarterback prospect out of Stanford University and the Dolphins selected him in the 2nd round of the 1978 draft. Benjamin would spend six seasons in the NFL, seeing action in 19 games.

-In the second round of the draft that season, the New England Patriots would take former University of Pittsburgh quarterback Matt Cavanaugh. He would have a long career, playing in the league from 1978 to 1991, though primarily as a backup.

-The first round of the 1978 NFL Draft saw only one quarterback taken, the young Tampa Bay Buccaneers picked Grambling State’s Doug Williams with the 17th overall selection of the first round that year. Williams had a very successful career both in the NFL and in the USFL as well. He would also win a Super Bowl ring with the Washington Redskins and also be named the Super Bowl XXII MVP. In terms of wins and losses, Williams is easily the most successful quarterback from the 1978 NFL Draft, but in career numbers Kenney still tops him.

With 14 quarterbacks taken in the draft, one would think it must’ve been a good year for quarterbacks, but statistically speaking the best numbers would be put up by the last of those quarterbacks taken.

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