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AFC West Draft Review - 2020

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
May/18/2020

With the NFL draft in the rear view, now is a time for reflection on each team’s individual class. While it may be too early to give a full-on grade and assessment, we can see how each team did in terms of filling needs while also finding value with each pick.

Today, we’re taking a closer look at the AFC West to see how all four teams came out of the weekend.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos entered the draft aiming to address their need for a receiver, and they wasted no time when their pick arrived. Denver ended up staying put at No. 15 and selected Alabama WR Jerry Jeudy. Jeudy was among the draft’s elite receivers, some even believing he was the best in the class, and he’ll immediately start opposite Courtland Sutton to give Drew Lock a formidable duo to throw to.

On day 2, Denver doubled up, using their second round selection on Penn State WR K.J. Hamler. Hamler is a good value pick in the middle of the second, and likely enters camp as the starting slot receiver. The Broncos then had three third round selections, targeting defense with two of them. Iowa CB Michael Ojemudia was considered a little bit of a reach at No. 77, but they secured a likely day one starter a few picks later with LSU C Lloyd Cushenberry. They then added more depth along the defensive line with Arkansas DT McTelvin Agim.

On Saturday, they continued to add weapons, drafting Missouri TE Albert Okwuegbunam in the fourth round. There is serious boom-or-bust potential with the talented tight end, but he’ll start as a backup to Noah Fant. Denver then went with Wake Forest LB Justin Strnad and Fresno State OG Netane Muti with their next two selections. Finally in the seventh round, Denver drafted one more receiver for good measure, Florida’s Tyrie Cleveland, before finishing with North Dakota State edge Derrek Tuszka.

Overall, the Broncos made sure that if they were going to draft for need, they would really hammer down that position, and did so with pass-catchers. A couple of their picks were a little risky, but ending up with three starters on offense makes for a solid draft.

Kansas City Chiefs

The defending champions obviously didn’t have a lot of areas or need, nor did they have a ton of draft capital, but they still managed to find some solid players. The first of which was at the end of the first round, when the Chiefs took the draft’s first running back in LSU’s Clyde Edwards-Helaire. Edwards-Helaire will complement Damien Williams in the backfield, giving Kansas City’s explosive offense another weapon.

The next day, Kansas City used their second round pick on Mississippi State LB Willie Gay Jr. Gay was a risky pick due to off-the-field issues, but was a start at the combine and might be one of the starting outside linebackers right away. Then in the third, they took TCU OT Lucas Niang, who has potential to be a future starter.

For their three day 3 selections, the Chiefs focused on adding defensive depth. Louisiana Tech S L’Jarius Sneed was the fourth round selection, and could see time at both safety and cornerback. Kansas City likely reached in the fifth for Michigan EDGE Michael Danna, who was likely to go undrafted. They finished the draft with their first cornerback of the weekend, Tulane CB Thakarius Keyes.

Kansas City took some gambles throughout, namely a running back in the first round and a questionable character like Gay in the second. But they added more talent, and on the heels of a Super Bowl title, it’s fair to give them the benefit of the doubt.

Las Vegas Raiders

The Raiders were one of a handful of teams who owned two first round picks, and had a variety of ways they could use them. At No. 12, they selected Alabama WR Henry Ruggs III, the first receiver taken in a loaded class. Some were surprised the Raiders took Ruggs over Jerry Jeudy or CeeDee Lamb, but he’ll give Vegas some huge speed and big play potential right away. Seven picks later, the Raiders once again surprised experts with the selection of Ohio State CB Damon Arnette. Arnette helps fill their biggest need and will likely start right away, but had a second or even third round grade on him by some.

The Raiders didn’t have a round two pick, but made up for it with three picks in the third round. With back-to-back picks at No. 80 and 81, Las Vegas went back to skill positions with Kentucky RB Lynn Bowden and South Carolina WR Bryan Edwards. Bowden is a versatile player who will see the field as both a running back and a slot receiver, while Edwards can be a nice depth piece to the revamped receiving corps. They wrapped up their round with Clemson LB Tanner Muse, who could also see time at safety.

Thanks to some trades, Las Vegas’ draft ended early. The team’s final two picks came in the fourth round, where they selected Clemson OG John Simpson and Louisiana Tech CB Amik Robertson. Simpson is a big guard who can add some depth, while Robertson is an intriguing and competitive slot corner.

There were questions about value at certain points, especially when it came to the Arnette selection. But the Raiders added some speed and versatility on offense, while also addressing their need at corner with a couple of promising selections. It was a decent draft for Las Vegas as a whole.

Los Angeles Chargers

On the eve of Phillip Rivers’ departure from the franchise, the Chargers were targeting a franchise quarterback from the start. They feel like they found that in Oregon QB Justin Herbert, whom they selected sixth overall. Even though Herbert will likely start as a backup to Tyrod Taylor, he is their long-term solution at QB in the very near future. Los Angeles then made a splash later in the round, trading their day two picks to move up to No. 23 to select Oklahoma LB Kenneth Murray. Although the trade up has been questioned, Murray projects as a three-down linebacker who can start at middle linebacker right away.

Due to the Murray trade, L.A. sat out rounds two and three. But with four picks on the final day, they were able to get their new quarterback some weapons.

In the fourth round, the Chargers selected UCLA RB Joshua Kelly. Kelly will join Austin Ekeler in a backfield that is now without Melvin Gordon. Their first receiver of the day came in the next round in the form of Virginia WR Joe Reed. L.A. added some depth in the secondary with Notre Dame S Alohi Gilman before finishing the draft with Ohio State WR K.J. Hill in the seventh round. Hill in particular has been lauded as one of the draft’s better steals, as the former Buckeye was projected to go as high as the fifth round.

Los Angeles made sure to grab their quarterback early, so it’s fair to say that Herbert will define how this draft class looks a couple years from now. But adding Murray, as well as Kelly, hit a couple major needs with good value, giving the Chargers a decent draft this year.

 When you go to bet on the AFC West - do so at our favorite pay per head bookie site www.PayPerHead247.com.

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