2018 NFL Draft Analysis – AFC West

The final installment of our eight part series, as we are going around the NFL division by division to see how each team did in the 2018 NFL Draft.  If you haven’t checked out our earlier parts, make sure to do so.  I am not going to go too in depth about the first round picks as I already dedicated an entire article to that subject.

Denver Broncos

Round 1 – 5 (5) – DE Bradley Chubb, N.C. State
Round 2 – 8 (40) – WR Courtland Sutton, SMU
Round 3 – 7 (71) – RB Royce Freeman, Oregon
Round 3 – 35 (99) – CB Isaac Yiadom, Boston College
Round 4 – 6 (106) – LB Josey Jewell, Iowa
Round 4 – 13 (113) – WR DaeSean Hamilton, Penn State
Round 5 – 19 (156) – TE Troy Fumagalli, Wisconsin
Round 6 – 9 (183) – C Sam Jones, Arizona State
Round 6 – 43 (217) – LB Keishawn Bierria, Washington
Round 7 – 8 (226) – RB David Williams, Arkansas

Denver decided to stay put at #5 after Cleveland took Denzel Ward so they could select Bradley Chubb.  Chubb is the guy most commonly deemed the best defensive player in the draft, and he is a pass rusher.  Good pick.

Man do I like the Sutton pick.  They paid a fair value on him, and I like the idea of stocking the offensive weapons for Keenum.  Also, the Broncos, should they want to, can cut Demaryius Thomas after this season for only $2.2 million of dead cap to avoid a $17.5 million cap hit.  They, I suppose, could also work together to restructure/extend the contract.

Royce Freeman is a running back that did not get a lot of pre draft attention but I really like him.  Freeman was a monster in 2015, and I know we are two years removed from that, but the ability is in there.

I think Yiadom is a reach where Denver selected him.  He is a big corner but has issues moving in space.  Denver needed to replace Talib, however.

Josey Jewell was the type of player that analysts loved if they get giddy over “pure football players,” and basically ignore things like combine numbers.  I do happen to think Jewell was under appreciated during the draft process, so to get him at the beginning of round four is good value.

For the second time in round four, the Broncos got someone I believe should have been a day two pick.  It was difficult for Hamilton to shine at Penn State given the quarterback situation, but he has tools and showed well at the Senior Bowl.  Also, if Denver wants to, they can save $10 million of cap space by cutting Emmanuel Sanders after this season.

Troy Fumagali is an interesting tight end prospect that could have perhaps gone a little higher than where Denver selected him.  While the team could use an upgrade at the position, they just took Jake Butt last year, so I wonder if they are concerned about his long term health already.

It took until round six but Denver finally selected an offensive lineman.  I’m assuming they are going to play Sam Jones at guard, since they have a weakness there and they’re set at center with Paradis.

Denver reached for Bierria by almost a full round.  I don’t know why Denver isn’t throwing darts at their offensive line here.

David Williams didn’t have a draftable grade and wasn’t a priority free agent.  I understand John Elway hates his running back depth chart after Royce Freeman, but I don’t get this pick.  Either take a different running back or try to find an offensive lineman.


I think that all of Denver’s first seven picks are good players, so that’s a good start.  I am confused why they didn’t do more to try to address their offensive line.  They probably believe they are set at tackle, which is fine, but they could upgrade one starting guard spot and the entire unit needs better depth.  Also, even with Chubb falling to #5 I would have taken the Bills trade.

Overall Grade: B+

Kansas City Chiefs

Round 2 – 14 (46) – DL Breeland Speaks, Ole Miss
Round 3 – 11 (75) – DT Derrick Nnadi, Florida State
Round 3 – 36 (100) – LB Dorian O’Daniel, Clemson
Round 4 – 24 (124) – S Armani Watts, Texas A&M
Round 6 – 22 (196) – CB Tremon Smith, Central Arkansas
Round 6 – 24 (198) – DT Kahlil McKenzie, Tennessee

The Chiefs made a move up the board in order to get Speaks.  They sent the Bengals #54 and #78 for #46 and #100.  They only netted a negative 0.6 points of draft capital in the deal, according to the Chase Stuart draft chart, but I would rather not have moved down 22 spots later to move up 8 spots in the second.

Speaks is a reach where they took him.  Part of me can appreciate the Chiefs’ eagerness to go secure him, as he has the size they need to be an end in their 3-4 defense.  I’m not sure Speaks belonged on day two, so best case this is a round too high.

The Chiefs got a good value with Nnadi in the 3rd round.  Coming into the 2017 football season, Nnadi was projected to be a first round pick.  I guess once it was apparent he is just a run stuffer his stock fell, but this is why you don’t take Da’Ron Payne 13th overall.  The Chiefs lost Dontari Poe after 2016 and rented Bennie Logan for a year to fill the void.  Now they have a long term answer.

The Chiefs did, however, pay a premium for this pick.  They sent #86 and #122 to Baltimore for #75.  They netted a negative 3.1 points of draft capital in the deal.

I’m not sure what the Chiefs’ plan for O’Daniel is, but he is a solid pick for them.  He is a good athlete who is solid against the run and in coverage, and has flashed as a pass rusher.

Armani Watts is a safety that I really like and think should have gone higher than where he did.  The Chiefs needed to face the reality that it is possible we will never see the same Eric Berry again.

I suppose this is the proper range for Tremon Smith, but there were corners available I liked better.  Also, I am surprised Kansas City waited this long to address the corner position.

Kahlil McKenzie did not have a draftable grade and Kansas City double dipped at a position after basically ignoring their needs along the offensive line and at cornerback the entire draft.


The Chiefs spent all of their picks on defense.  There isn’t necessarily anything inherently wrong with that, but they reached on Speaks, traded up twice, didn’t do nearly enough to address their massive need at corner, and completely ignored their offensive line.  The offensive line thing really bothers me since they are transitioning to the Mahomes era.

I can see that the strategy was to go defensive heavy and maybe, if I hold my nose and close my eyes, I can see they kept taking the best defensive player on the board at each pick.  I just don’t agree with the strategy given who the Chiefs are (and that they did not, in fact, take the best player on the board).

Overall Grade: C

Los Angeles Chargers

Round 1 – 17 (17) – S Derwin James, Florida State
Round 2 – 16 (48) – Edge Uchenna Nwosu, USC
Round 3 – 20 (84) – DT Justin Jones, N.C. State
Round 4 – 19 (119) – S Kyzir White, West Virginia
Round 5 – 18 (155) – C Scott Quessenberry, UCLA
Round 6 – 17 (191) – WR Dylan Cantrell, Texas Tech
Round 7 – 33 (251) – RB Justin Jackson, Northwestern

The Chargers got the biggest steal of the first round.  Good start.

Los Angeles has, by far, the best edge duo in the NFL.  So while it may seem odd they chose Uchenna Nwosu in the second round, I still like it.  You can never have too many pass rushers, and Nwosu fits the range and is a player I really like.

The Chargers had one of the worst run defenses in the NFL last year, ranking 27th in run defense DVOA.  So it is no surprise they added a nose tackle, but Justin Jones is a reach where they took him in the middle of the 3rd round.

Kyzir White spent a lot of time at West Virginia playing slot corner, so he fits the slot corner/safety hybrid model that the NFL is looking for in today’s game.  Getting him at #119 is good value.

The Chargers had very bad offensive line play in 2017 so I am a little surprised they waited until the 5th round to take an offensive lineman.  Quessenberry fits the range though.

I know it is the 6th round, but I think the Cantrell selection is a wasted pick.  Keenan Allen is a stud, Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams are at least serviceable, and 2018 is functionally going to be Mike Williams rookie season.  Cantrell doesn’t really provide anything to this roster for the upcoming year and the Chargers haven’t adequately addressed the offensive line or selected an off ball linebacker.

Some will say Justin Jackson is a good value where he was selected, but once again I believe this should have been a dart throw at the offensive line or linebacker.


The Chargers did not make a single trade.  They just sat at each of their picks and, it would appear, took the highest rated player on their board.  Never a bad strategy, and I like the players they got in the first 5 rounds, even if Jones was a reach.

I just don’t think they addressed the offensive line enough and am surprised they didn’t take a linebacker.  I can somewhat understand how it is that the Chargers view their offensive line, as they signed Mike Pouncey, but he hasn’t been good in two years, they are getting Forrest Lamp back from injury, are assuming progression from Dan Feeney, and hoping for a return to 2015 form from Joe Barksdale.  Sure, if all of that happens they are in business up front.  That is just a lot of things that need to go right though, and Pouncey isn’t the most durable guy.

Overall Grade: B-

Oakland Raiders

Round 1 – 15 (15) – OT Kolton Miller, UCLA
Round 2 – 25 (57) – DT P.J. Hall, Sam Houston State
Round 3 – 1 (65) – OT Brandon Parker, North Carolina A&T
Round 3 – 23 (87) – Edge Arden Key, LSU
Round 4 – 10 (110) – CB Nick Nelson, Wisconsin
Round 5 – 3 (140) – DT Maurice Hurst, Michigan
Round 5 – 36 (173) – P Johnny Townsend, Florida
Round 6 – 42 (216) – LB Azeem Victor, Washington
Round 7 – 10 (228) – WR Marcell Ateman, Oklahoma State

Oakland traded down in the first round – good – and then significantly reached on Kolton Miller – bad.

The Raiders conned the Titans into giving them #57 and #89 for #41.  Oakland profited 3.9 points of draft capital in the trade.  Excellent.  Oakland then massively reached for P.J. Hill.  I really have nothing else to say, this reach was egregious.

Oakland then gave most of their draft capital profit back, from the trade with the Titans, in a trade with the Ravens.  The Raiders sent out #75, #152, and #212 to get up to the first pick of the 3rd round.  They netted a negative 2.2 points of draft capital in the trade.

I would say Brandon Parker is a reach here.  I can justify him going on day two due to positional value, but much later on in the process.  So Oakland traded up to reach at a position where they are now double dipping.

The Raiders decided to be the team that swings for the fences with Arden Key.  Key was universally seen as, at worst, a top 10 pick coming into the 2017 football season.  He has all the athletic gifts you can ask for and plays a premium position.  There are just too many question marks with him – being unrefined, he quit football at one point, he weighed in at 238lb at the combine, he wasn’t noticeable during 2017 – for me to get amped up about this selection.  This is absolutely a lotto ticket, so if it hits then Key plus Mack is, well, Rivers is getting too old for this shit.

Nick Nelson is an absolute steal in the 4th round.

Maurice Hurst is the steal of the draft.  Look, I’m not a doctor, so I don’t know what the deal is with his heart condition, but Maurice Hurst is one of the five best players in this draft.

I’ll never understand drafting a punter before the 7th round.

Azeem Victor didn’t have a draftable grade.

Marcell Ateman is a great value in the 7th round.  He absolutely should have gone higher.


Oakland traded down in the first and second rounds, and then traded up in the 3rd twice, but the second trade was essentially insignificant.  They also shipped out the 3rd round pick acquired from Arizona in the Josh Rosen trade, #79, to bring in Martavis Bryant.  This is the last year for Bryant’s contract so I’m not sure I get that, but Oakland now has a really interesting three wideout set.

Oakland spent their first four picks in the trenches, which is a good idea, but two of those picks went to offensive tackle.  Wasn’t, like, the entire narrative ahead of 2017 that the Oakland offensive line was this elite unit and by far the best Marshawn Lynch will have played with in his entire career?  And the Raiders are trusting Tom Cable, formerly of the Seahawks, to develop two raw offensive lineman?  Go ask a Seahawks fan how they predict that will go.

My educated guess is the Raiders have every intention of cutting Donald Penn after 2018 and saving the $10.35 million in cap space.  So Oakland’s starting tackle duo in 2019 will be, hopefully(?), Miller and Parker.  Planning for the future is always smart, especially at offensive tackle, but they reached on both guys and Tom Cable is Tom Cable.

Oakland also reached in the second round and decided to play with fire by drafting Arden Key.  Their 5th round pick is by far the best player they took in the draft, and their 4th round pick is perhaps the second best player they got, but at worst the 3rd best player.

I don’t like what Oakland did, but they traded down twice (smart), – although they gave some profit back – reached on every pick during the first two days, but did so at value positions (only time reaching is kind of ok), got big time steals in rounds 4 and 7, and got THE steal of the draft in the 5th.  It is a confusing bag, but overall I’m not a fan.  Getting Hurst in the 5th is really saving this grade from the D range.

Overall Grade: C

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