For the past 45 seasons, the Mack Lee Hill Award has been given to the Chiefs' most outstanding rookie. Whether it was Derek Thomas in ‘89, Will Shields in ‘93, Tony Gonzalez in ‘97, or Jared Allen in ‘04, the award has signaled the arrival of some of the greatest Chiefs of all time.
Seven of the Mack Lee Hill Award winners have come out of the first round, more than any other. This would lead you to think that safety Eric Berry would be the front runner, but it's not a shoe-in.
Only twice in the past 20 years has a safety won the MLH Award, with Greg Wesley being the last to win in 2000. Prior to him, it was Reggie Tongue in ‘96.
Linebackers claim six MLH Award winners, more than double any other position. The Chiefs didn't draft a linebacker until the fifth round in April's draft, so it would be considered a shock if Cameron Sheffield walked away with the award this year. The precedence has been set before, however, when fifth round selection Scott Fujita won the award in 2002.
Wide receivers come in second in the rankings with three winners, and second round pick Dexter McCluster has the ability to completely change how opposing defensive coordinators game plan for the Chiefs' offense. This makes him a possible candidate for the award. But only two second round picks have won it in the past 20 years, with the last being Kawika Mitchell, who shared the award with Jimmy Wilkerson in '03.
Chiefs' third round pick Tony Moeaki is an intriguing player who has the potential to win the award as well. Third round picks have the second most MLH Awards won in the past 20 years with five. If Moeaki can stay healthy he will definitely make an impact on the field and could be a favorite as the season winds to an end.
Don't think the MLH Award winner needs to be a high profile draft pick, though.
Of the past 20 winners, four of them have been undrafted rookie free-agents, including 2008 winner Maurice Leggett.
Of the URFA heading to camp, Cory Greenwood may have the best odds according to historical numbers. On top of being a linebacker and a URFA, Greenwood was also a number one overall pick in the draft (albeit in the Canadian Football League).
Eric Berry is definitely the odds on favorite, but don't sell some of the other rookies short. If all the stars align and history has any relevance in the future, you could just see the young LB out of Canada walking out of 2010 as the Chiefs' rookie of the year.
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