The AFC West is a bit of a weird division to project in 2018. The Chiefs won it in 2017 but will have an entirely new quarterback. The Raiders won in 2016 but have a new head coach that we have no idea what to expect from. The Broncos won in 2015 but haven’t been the same since John Elway made the egregious coaching decision. Then there’s the Chargers…Yeah. With the 2018 NFL Draft in the books, how can we grade each team in the AFC West?
Denver Broncos: Draft Grade A
- Round 1, Pick 5 (No. 5 overall): Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State
- Round 2, Pick 8 (No. 40 overall): Courtland Sutton, WR, SMU
- Round 3, Pick 7 (No. 71 overall): Royce Freeman, RB, Oregon
- Round 3, Pick 35 (No. 99 overall): Isaac Yiadom, CB, Boston College
- Round 4, Pick 6 (No. 106 overall): Josey Jewell, ILB Iowa
- Round 4, Pick 13 (No. 113 overall) DaeSean Hamilton, WR, Penn State
- Round 5, Pick 12 (No. 156 overall): Troy Fumagalli, TE, Wisconsin
- Round 6, Pick 9 (No. 183 overall): Sam Jones, OL, Arizona State
- Round 6, Pick 43 (No. 217 overall): Keishawn Bierria, LB, Washington
- Round 7, Pick 8 (No. 226 overall): David Williams, RB, Arkansas
It’s hard not to absolutely love what the Broncos did here. Bradley Chubb was one of the 3 can’t miss NFL Draft prospects in the 2018 class. Chubb is a superior pass rusher and now gives the Broncos a sidekick with Von Miller on the other side. Denver really hasn’t been the same since DeMarcus Ware retired and Shane Ray hasn’t been the answer since. Chubb is flat out awesome and will get one on one matchups all day. Denver will potentially have the best pass rush in the NFL and we know that can we know you can win a lot of games even with anemic quarterback play.
The middle and later rounds also came away with a lot of talent. I’m shaky on Courtland Sutton but his upside might be too good to pass on. His speed and overall explosiveness worry me but his frame is huge and really might be the replacement for Demaryius Thomas. Royce Freeman gives Denver a starting running back. Freeman isn’t like other Oregon backs and is a real bruising force. Freeman is a three-down back and really might be the workhorse with a lack of other options on the roster. In what was a deep running back class, Freeman is a steal in round 3.
Let’s also talk about Josey Jewell. I can’t believe he lasted until the fourth round. The NFL seems to be paralyzed on players that have below average athleticism but are just flat out good football players. The NFL made this mistake with Vontaze Burfict and now Jewell. The Iowa product is a tackling machine and will make a push to start at middle linebacker. Isaac Yiadom another great pick here. We saw John Johnson, his former collegiate teammate, had awesome feet at the Senior Bowl a year ago. Yiadom isn’t much different with incredible feet. He could develop into an awesome corner. How about DaeSean Hamilton and Tony Fumagalli! Wow, this was good.
Kansas City Chiefs: Draft Grade F
- Round 2, Pick 14 (No. 46 overall, via Bengals): Breeland Speaks, DE, Ole Miss
- Round 3, Pick 11 (No. 75 overall) [Via Baltimore]: Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida State
- Round 3, Pick 36 (No. 100 overall) [Via Cincinnati]: Dorian O’Daniel, OLB, Clemson
- Round 4, Pick 24 (No. 124 overall): Armani Watts, S, Texas A&M
- Round 6, Pick 22 (No. 196 overall): Tremon Smith, CB, Central Arkansas
- Round 6, Pick 24 (No. 198 overall): Reginald McKenzie Jr., DL, Tennessee
Let’s not waste a ton of time here because there’s not a lot to talk about. The Pat Mahomes deal killed this draft before it ever began. Then when it did get started, the Chiefs didn’t really come away with much. Essentially the just threw darts at the defensive side of the ball. The two picks I really like are Derrick Nnadi and Dorian O’Daniel. Nnadi could wind up being a good player from Florida State and turns into a starter at the five-technique. O’Daniel is a really good cover linebacker that also may find his way into a starting role. The rest of the picks are really just dart throws.
Los Angeles Chargers: Draft Grade D+
- Round 1, Pick 17 (No. 17 overall): Derwin James, S, Florida State
- Round 2, Pick 16 (No. 48 overall): Uchenna Nwosu, LB, USC
- Round 3, Pick 20 (No. 84 overall): Justin Jones, DE, North Carolina State
- Round 4, Pick 19 (No. 119 overall): Kyzir White, S, West Virginia
- Round 5, Pick 18 (No. 155 overall): Scott Quessenberry, C, UCLA
- Round 6, Pick 17 (No. 191 overall): Dylan Cantrell, WR, Texas Tech
- Round 7, Pick 33 (No. 251 overall): Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern
I’ll really never understand why people are praising the Chargers today. Derwin James is very much a coin flip. People that just watch his highlights will see some outstanding plays because of his athletic traits. The problem is they are very hard to find because he disappears a lot. James isn’t the best pure cover guy either in a league that really has turned into a secondary with four corners in the back end. Maybe James figures it out because he is a freak but there is no sure thing here.
The rest of the draft makes little sense outside of Justin Jones. The entire NC State defensive line is filled with solid players. Uchenna Nwosu is a total project in the second round as a converted defensive back turned pass rusher. You can see the traits are there but he has no clue what he’s doing. Kyzir White? He’s undraftable for the sole reason that he’s Kevin White’s brother. Bad all the way around outside of Justin Jones.
Oakland Raiders: Draft Grade B-
- Round 1, Pick 15 (No. 15 overall) [via Arizona]: Kolton Miller, OT, UCLA
- Round 2, Pick 25 (No. 57 overall): P.J. Hall, DT, Sam Houston St.
- Round 3, Pick 1 (No. 65 overall) [via Baltimore]: Brandon Parker, OT, North Carolina A&T
- Round 3, Pick 23 (No. 87 overall) [via Los Angeles Rams]: Arden Key, DE/LB, LSU
- Round 4 Pick 10 (No. 110 overall): Nick Nelson, CB, Wisconsin
- Round 5, Pick 3 (No. 140 overall) [via Arizona]: Maurice Hurst, DT, Michigan
- Round 5, Pick 36 (No. 173 overall *compensatory selection): Johnny Townsend, P, Florida
- Round 6, Pick 42 (No. 216 overall *compensatory selection): Azeem Victor, LB, Washington
- Round 7, Pick 10 (No. 228 overall): Marcell Ateman, WR, Oklahoma State
Talk about a boom or bust draft. Kolton Miller is flat out terrible. Can he block? No, but he looked good at the Combine! No, Thanks. Oakland also reached heavy on P.J. Hall who breaks a new record for the highest draft selection not to get invited to the combine. You have to watch the East-West game to find film on the guy and is a player that plays with great leverage but still is a big reach. Brandon Parker is another player that has shaky movement skills but has a monster frame. The first three picks will either turn into great players or flat out busts.
That trend continues with Arden Key and Maurice Hurst. These two guys have serious all-pro potential. Key is a freak pass rusher but really shot himself in the foot this past year. Injuries, weight issues, off the field suspensions, and lousy play killed his stock. However, turn on the 2016 tape and this guy goes in the top 5. How about Maurice Hurst too who would have gone in the top 10 as well if it weren’t for a heart condition. Now he may turn out to be nothing because of it. However, if his heart is fine, this is a huge steal. Getting Martavis Bryant in a trade also boosts this class as a proven commodity.