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AFC West Draft Preview

By Christopher Tyler Baker - 4 months ago in NFL News

AFC West Draft Preview

The 2017 NFL Draft is almost upon us! Let’s take a look at the teams in the AFC West as they prepare for the war room. Here is a look at where each team is and what their greatest needs are.

Denver Broncos

AFC West

2016 was a major disappointment for the franchise. The defending Super Bowl champions sputtered after a 4-0 start and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010. WRs Sanders and Thomas were nominated to the Pro Bowl despite a quarterback controversy that dominated the offense. RB C.J. Anderson couldn’t stay healthy and rookie Devontae Booker couldn’t seem to put things together. Head coach Gary Kubiak retired at the end of the season citing health concerns and has been replaced by relative unknown in Vance Joseph. The Broncos defense remains a force to be reckoned with, but the offense desperately needs a quarterback that can win.

Notable 2017 additions

OG Ronald Leary
OT Menelik Watson
DT Domata Peko
DE Zach Kerr
LB Kasim Edebali, Dekoda Watson
CB Kayvon Webster

The Broncos made upgrading the offensive line a priority this offseason. The additions of Leary and Watson add starting talent, though Watson’s ability to stay healthy will be an issue and it’s still unclear which side he will play on. The other signings are stop-gaps and depth players that lack true starting talent.

Draft needs

The team lost DeMarcus Ware to retirement and NT Sylvester Williams and OT Russell Okung to free agency. All three were starters and their production will be missed. The offensive line is still an area of need and may be addressed in the draft or by trading one of their 10 picks for a veteran. The flexible nature of the Broncos’ defensive scheme means that they can get a 1-gap or 2-gap player to replace Williams at NT. The team will need to look for an edge rusher to replace Ware. The team has hinted that they want to add an offensive weapon in the form of a hybrid WR/RB- perhaps in the mold of Christian McCaffery. It’s almost a certainly that they will add RB and WR talent. Tight end production has been poor so the team will most likely tap into a deep TE class. Cornerback may also be a position the team will want to address in the early rounds.

The team has ten picks in this draft with picks 20, 51, 82 and 101 in the first three rounds.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

AFC West

In his fourth year as head coach, Andy Reid lead the Chiefs to a 12-4 record, their first divisional title since 2010, and their first first-round bye since 2003. The Chiefs lost roughly one-third of their yardage output when they lost Jamaal Charles to a season-ending knee injury. Undaunted, the team rallied around their remaining running backs and went 11-1 without Charles. 2016 saw safety Eric Berry fight cancer, beat cancer and return to the football field. Much respect to Eric Berry. Andy Reid may not be able to manage a game clock, but he has a young, talented team that has a lot of promise moving forward.

Notable 2017 additions

RB C.J. Spiller
DT Bennie Logan
TE Gavin Escobar
S Marqueston Huff

Whether or not Spiller is a “notable” addition is debatable. Logan was brought in to fill the void left by the departing Dontari Poe. Escobar is a primarily pass-catching TE that can contribute in two TE sets and adds veteran depth behind Kelce.

Draft needs

The franchise’s all-time leading rusher Jamaal Charles is gone. Ware, West and Spiller all have a history of injuries so the team will look to the draft, and most likely the early rounds, for a RB. The team may want to solidify the corner position opposite Marcus Peters and could look for a cornerback early. Nick Foles is gone and the team needs someone to backup Alex Smith. Poe’s departure leaves a big void in the middle of the defensive line. LB Derrick Johnson is aging and coming off an achilles injury so the team may bolster a the LB corps in the draft. Depth at offensive line, defensive line, secondary and wide receiver could also be addressed with the ten picks the Chiefs have.

The team has ten picks in the draft with picks 27, 59, 91 and 104 in the first three rounds

 

Oakland Raiders

Jared Cook AFC West

2016 was a turnaround season for the Raiders franchise. The team finished the season with a 12-4 record- their first winning record since the 2002 season. The team made it to the playoffs only to have a season-ending week 16 injury to star quarterback Derek Carr destroy any realistic hopes of a successful postseason run. The Raiders come into 2017 with a different attitude and demeanor than years past. The team that was once known as the bad guys of the league now boasts the highest collective character of any other franchise (no arrests in three years in almost unheard of these days). The team is young and has a bright future but a 12-4 record will be tough to duplicate in such a competitive division.

Notable 2017 additions

TE Jared Cook
WR Cordarrelle Paterson
QB E.J. Manuel
LB Jelani Jenkins
OL Marshall Newhouse

The Raiders let a lot of players walk in free agency. Jared Cook was brought in to replace the departing Michael Rivera and compete with a somewhat disappointing Clive Walford. Cordarelle Paterson is primarily a return specialist but could absorb some to the targets that went to the likes of Seth Roberts and the departed Andre Holmes. E.J. Manuel adds depth to the QB position. The team has $30M+ in cap space but wants to get a long-term deal done with Carr and has been reluctant to spend big.

Draft Needs

Cornerback has been a problem position for some time so the team will almost certainly spend an early round pick on corner. The linebacker corps is undersized and the team lost a couple of LBs to free agency so the team will try to address the positions in the draft. DT Stacy McGee is now in Washington so there is a need for an interior defensive lineman. The Marshawn Lynch deal may or may not be happening. If nothing is solidified before the draft, the team will need to take a between-the-tackles RB.

The team has eight picks in the draft with picks 24, 56 and 88 in the first three rounds.

 

Los Angeles Chargers

AFC West Draft Preview

2016 was the Chargers’ final year in San Diego and they did not leave in good fashion. The team ended the season with a disappointing record of 5-11. Injuries played a large role in the regression, but the team also was a victim of constant late-game breakdowns. They had a 1-8 record in games decided by a touchdown or less and seemed to invent new ways to loose every week. A Christmas eve loss to the 0-14 Cleveland Browns was the final nail in head coach Mike McCoy’s coffin. Anthony Lynn is now head coach. Rookie DE Joey Bosa was a nice bright spot for the team. He racked up 10.5 sacks, 21 QB hits and 17 tackles for a loss in the12 games he played.

Notable 2017 additions

LT Russell Okung
RB Kenjon Barner

The Chargers were not active in free agency this year. Okung helps a poor offensive line and Barner is a depth move at running back.

Draft needs

Guard D.J. Flunker left for salary cap reasons. Flunker wasn’t a great guard, but was serviceable. Now the guard position is a big need for the team. The safety position has been a need since Weddle left in 2015 and remains a problem that needs to be addressed- especially with Gus Bradley implementing a single-high-safety scheme. The team needs a physical ILB to play beside Denzel Perryman. They will look to add a change of pace back to compliment Melvin Gordon. Keenan Allen is expected back, but the team may look to add another receiver to help bolster it’s offense.

The team has seven picks in the draft with picks 7, 38 and 71 in the first three rounds.

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