The AFC West. The best division in football. Four of the premiere pass rushers in the entire NFL (Von Miller, Khalil Mack, Justin Houston, and Joey Bosa). Two great quarterbacks, a game manager, and the unknown.
Like a fine wine, two veteran running backs are joining new teams. Marshawn Lynch decided that retirement was not for him just yet, and came to terms with his hometown team, the Oakland Raiders. Jamaal Charles was not resigned by the Chiefs, and so he traveled across the great American plains and signed a one-year deal with his childhood team, the Denver Broncos.
The Chargers are no longer affiliated with the city famous for being translated from German to “a whale’s vagina” as they have moved up the 5 Freeway to the City of Angels.
All of this and we haven’t even gotten to the draft yet. The Chiefs will attempt to repeat as division champs, and the Raiders will aim to improve on their 2016 wild card season and win their first division title since 2002. The Broncos hope to get back to the dominance of the Manning years and the Chargers are searching to be relevant again.
So how did they do in the draft?
AFC West 2017 NFL Draft Final Grades[table id=37 /]
Best Pick: Garett Bolles
Everyone seems to hate a 25-year-old rookie. I love a rookie that has fought through adverse situations in life and beaten all odds to make it to the big stage. Bolles is a big man, with a tremendous ceiling, that only cares about two things: family and football. Last time I heard an offensive tackle with those priorities: Michael Oher. If Bolles can fulfill the expectations that Elway has for him, the Broncos have their left tackle for years to come.
Value/Sleeper: Jake Butt
Before he tore his ACL in the Orange Bowl, Butt was a late first round, early second round projected pick. If he is able to get back on the field 100% healthy, the Broncos get extreme value in the fifth round. He is a tight end with soft hands, good route running ability, and can double down as a viable blocker in the run game. Denver can finally fill the void that Julius Thomas left.
Reach: Brendan Langley
Langley is a tall cornerback with great speed that will compete on special teams immediately. As a corner, he is extremely raw and has a long way to go before he can start or even fill in on defense. Luckily, he will learn behind the No-Fly Zone and will have no timetable on his learning process, however, the Broncos could have probably taken him 2-3 rounds after they did.
Overall Grade: B-
[table id=38 /]
Best Pick: Kareem Hunt
The Chiefs decided not to resign Jamaal Charles, putting the weight of the running game on Spencer Ware and Charcandrick West. That is until they drafted Kareem Hunt. Hunt is an extremely talented runner that I expect to be the lead back at some point in the 2017 season and for years to come.
Value/Sleeper: Jehu Chesson
It seems like the Chiefs are always in need of more quality receivers and they may have gotten one late in the draft with Chesson. He is a big body that will need to put on more weight if he hopes to be the possible number one receiver. He had a solid career at Michigan and is best when catching balls in traffic, a quarterbacks best friend.
Reach: Patrick Mahomes
If Mahomes turns out to be comparable to Brett Favre in three years then I will obviously be eating my words (save this article haters), but I think Kansas City gave up way too much for a project. The early first round is for players that are supposed to help your team win immediately, and rounds after that are adequate to take projects. Love Mahomes’ talent, but not enough to give up two first rounds picks and a third.
Overall Grade: C
[table id=39 /]
Best Pick: Mike Williams
Keenan Allen has proven himself as a great receiver, but unfortunately, he can’t seem to stay healthy. Mike Williams will fill the void if Allen isn’t on the field, but if they both are listed as the X and Y, watch out.
Value/Sleeper: Forrest Lamp
Phillip Rivers should be glowing after the Chargers draft. They got arguably the top lineman in the entire draft in the second round and another top guard (Dan Feeney) a round after that. Lamp could be the staple of that line for years to come.
Reach: Rayshawn Jenkins
To be honest, the Chargers had a very sound draft and really didn’t find themselves reaching for many players. They probably took Jenkins a round too early but made up for it by taking Desmond King in the next round, who was projected to go much earlier. Each player will have the opportunity to start this season.
Overall Grade: B+
[table id=40 /]
Best Pick: Obi Melifonwu
Melifonwu may be a name that you cannot pronounce, but it should most certainly be a name that you remember. He may not start this year, but a future of Karl Joseph and Obi Melifonwu on the backend seems like a good one.
Value/Sleeper: Eddie Vanderdoes
In 2014, Vanderdoes was a beast at UCLA and projected as the next best interior defensive lineman. He tore his ACL in the 2015 opener, missed the entire season, and watched his production slip a bit in 2016. His talent is off the charts and if he can get fully healthy, the Raiders got a steal in the third round.
Reach: Gareon Conley
There is no denying Conley’s talent at the corner position, but the risk was too great for me with rape allegations looming over his head, especially when the Raiders had a bigger need. Reuben Foster was still available, who had red flags of his own (none of them legal pending), but was a top-5 talent and would have started day one. Raider fans will have to look across the bay to see his production.
Overall Grade: B-
AFC West Draft Pecking Order
Los Angeles Chargers
Kansas City Chiefs