The Chiefs wanted Anthony Hancock badly in April of 1982.
Kansas City decided they needed Hancock so badly that the team traded up to make Hancock the first receiver chosen in ’82 NFL Draft.
The 6-0, 200 pound ultra-athletic speedster out of Tennessee was projected to be a premier play-maker at the NFL level.
“Anthony had a tremendous combination of size, speed and athletic ability,” former Chiefs player personnel director Les Miller told The Kansas City Star in 1987. “It was almost unmatched. I can remember going to the physical workout (scouting combine) at Tampa that year. It was outdoors, on grass. Every year there are two or three guys who just skyrocket above the rest. Anthony was one of those guys.
“You looked at him and said, ‘Hey, this guy should become a premier wide receiver in the National Football League.”
Hancock’s potential would never materialize.
Kansas City grew tired of waiting for Hancock to develop and waived him following the ’87 training camp. He never caught more than 37 passes in a single year and finished with 15 or fewer receptions in four of his five NFL seasons.
The Chiefs traded first and third-round picks (16th and 73rd overall) to St. Louis for the right to move up and select Hancock 11th overall. St. Louis used the trade to choose Luis Sharpe, a three-time Pro Bowl selection at offensive tackle, with the 16th overall pick.
Once the first nine picks had passed in the ’82 draft, Kansas City felt there were two can’t-miss players available at picks 10 and 11. Whoever the Raiders selected 10th overall didn’t particularly matter. The Chiefs would select the second of what they viewed as two outstanding prospects.
The Raiders selected Pro Football Hall of Fame RB Marcus Allen with the 10th pick.
Allen made the Pro Bowl as a rookie - the first of six career Pro Bowl invites. He was also named first-team All-Pro.
Hancock spent his rookie season as the Chiefs third receiver, only after an injury to J.T. Smith elevated him out of the fourth position. He also returned kickoffs and punts.
“I really don’t know why he didn’t pan out,” Miller said. “All the time he was with us – and you can talk about any season you want – you can point to a few plays when he showed flashes of that first-round talent.”
In fairness to Miller and Kansas City’s personnel department, three of the four wide receivers selected in the first round of the ’82 draft underachieved.
Hancock’s 73 career receptions exceeded career totals produced by both Lindsay Scott (selected 13th overall by New Orleans) and Perry Tuttle (selected 19th overall by Buffalo).
Mike Quick wound up being the only productive receiver taken the in the first round that year. He went 20th overall to the Eagles and is now in the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame. Quick played nine seasons in Philly, totaling 363 receptions for 6,464 yards and 61 TDs.
“Even though Anthony Hancock did not produce up to the caliber that was expected, you can’t say he was a washout,” Miller said. “Nobody would ever say Anthony Hancock can’t play. You can say that Anthony Hancock did not live up to his abilities.”
Hancock’s greatest play as a Chief might have come during his rookie season when the former All-America hurdler burst past defenders to make a 41-yard diving touchdown catch against the 49ers.
In ’84, Hancock had a huge game against the Bengals scoring on a 46-yard touchdown strike and set up another touchdown with a 46-yard reception. His 109-yard day was the only 100-yard receiving game of his career.
There were flashes. Just too few and far between.
Injuries also played a part in Hancock’s failure to develop. He battled an ankle injury in ’84 and missed most of the ’86 season with the knee injury.
Hancock’s knee again swelled up during the ’87 training camp and caused him to miss most of the preseason. He was cut two days after Kansas City’s final exhibition game.
“I don’t know why it didn’t work out for me in Kansas City,” Hancock said following his release.
“I need to grow. I don’t think I was getting any growth (in Kansas City). Being the fourth receiver with Stephone (Paige), Carlos (Carson) and Henry (Marshall) would do me no good. I’d come in on situational downs and not be able to use my talent on a consistent basis.”
Hancock agreed it was time to move on.
Unfortunately, he never appeared in another NFL game.
*Quotes from this story provided from a Kansas City Star article written by Rick Gosselin on 9/6/87 – “Chiefs finally grew tired of waiting for Hancock to develop.”