The AFC West did not fare well in the 2019 draft as a whole. There’s good picks and good moves, which we will discuss in a minute, but a high level view of the entire performance haul is underwhelming. There is much to discuss, so without further delay, here is the 2019 NFL draft analysis of the AFC West.
20th pick (20th overall) – TE Noah Fant, Iowa
This pick was acquired in the heist Denver got from Pittsburgh to move down ten spots. In agreeing to move from 10 to 20, Denver picked up the 52nd pick, along with a 2020 third rounder. If Pittsburgh’s third round choice ends up where it was this year (83rd), then the Broncos will profit 13.4 points worth of draft capital in this trade, according to the Chase Stuart draft chart. 13.4 points of draft capital is the equivalent of the 28th pick. In other words, Denver functionally got the 20th and 28th picks for #10. The deal was an absolute heist.
The pick itself is not as rosy as the trade. Fant does excel at the two most common routes tight ends run in a Shanahan offense, so if Rich Scangarello brings bootleg concepts to Denver from San Francisco, Fant is at least a fit in that regard.
That being said, I’m just not high enough on Fant for this pick. He has a very serious drops issue, is limited in his route running, and offers nothing as a blocker. In order for him to return value here he has to be an absolutely dynamic receiver, and I don’t think he is that.
9th pick (41st overall) – OL Dalton Risner, Kansas State
I put lineman as opposed to tackle because of Risner’s versatility. The Broncos did have him announced as a tackle, and I do hope Risner sees his first opportunity on the outside. Regardless, Risner is a high floor prospect due to the fact he is sound and can play anywhere you want him up front. He easily could have gone in the first, so this is good value. This also hits a big need, so all around this is a great choice.
10th pick (42nd overall) – QB Drew Lock, Missouri
There’s three things to address here; the trade, the pick, and the order of operations.
First, the trade. Denver moved up from 52 in a move with Cincinnati. That deal saw the Broncos send 52, 125, and 182 to the Bengals for 42. The 52nd pick was received through the deal with the Steelers while the 125th pick was acquired in the Demaryius Thomas trade with the Texans. Cincinnati profited 4 points worth of draft capital in the trade, the equivalent of the 122nd pick.
The pick itself is fine. If you’re going to overpay to move up, do it for a quarterback. I’m not much of a Lock fan, but taking a chance on him in the second round is worth it. He has a big arm and did a good job of avoiding turnover worthy plays in 2018. He also exhibits good athleticism, so it’s no wonder why Elway likes him.
The issues with Lock are his accuracy and pocket mobility. While Lock can run around outside the pocket, he isn’t good in the way of sliding, or moving up, in the pocket. While scrambling is valuable, Lock’s weakness is the more important quarterback mobility trait.
There is also the odd procedural execution of Denver choosing Risner first and then moving up to grab Lock second. If Denver was that smitten with Lock wouldn’t they have taken him at 41 and figured out how to acquire Risner after the fact? If they really, really liked Lock wouldn’t they have tried to get up to the top of the second round overnight in an effort to secure Lock?
7th pick (71st overall) – DT Dre’Mont Jones, Ohio State
Excellent selection. Jones could have gone in the second round so to get him here in the early third is good value. Jones is a very talented and impactful pass rusher. He record 10 sacks last year for Ohio State, an impressive number for an interior lineman.
18th pick (156th overall) – Edge Justin Hollins, Oregon
Hollis is good value here and can bring some pass rush ability to Denver. He record 15 sacks over his final two seasons in Eugene. He is also a dynamic athlete, posting a 4.50 40, 1.55 10-yard split, 36.5″ vertical, 119″ broad jump, and 7.06 3-cone at 242 pounds.
14th pick (187th overall) – WR Juwann Winfree, Colorado
Denver did well. Despite that Fant is a reach, John Elway struck a fantastic deal with the Steelers in order to move down first. Getting Risner in the second round was a steal, and taking a shot on Lock with the next pick is a worthy investment.
Both Jones and Hollins, but more so Jones, have the ability to contribute in 2019 in situational pass rushing duties.
Kansas City Chiefs
24th pick (56th overall) – WR Mecole Hardman, Georgia
The Chiefs made a desperation move here. First, they sprung up the board, sending picks 61 and 167 to the Rams for 56. The trade itself isn’t a big deal, as Kansas City functionally forfeited the 183rd pick of the draft in the move.
The desperation comes in the form of the player. The Chiefs made Hardman the 5th receiver off the board, bypassing a plethora of superior options. The best argument you can make is that Hardman was a top 15 receiver in this draft. Top 20 is also a reasonable assessment.
Either way, this is an egregious reach. In the process of selecting Hardman, Kansas City passed on D.K. Metcalf, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Andy Isabella, Diontae Johnson, and Hakeem Butler, among others.
The only explanation is that the Chiefs are extremely concerned that Tyreek Hill will not be a part of this team in 2019 and possibly beyond. Kansas City freaked out and moved up to secure an absolute burner in the event Hill is suspended or cut. Desperation reaches rarely bare fruit.
31st pick (63rd overall) – S Juan Thornhill, Virginia
Thornhill is one of my favorite day two prospects. He is an absolute freak athlete that showed well in coverage in 2018. The 6’0″, 200 pounder destroyed the combine with a 4.42 40, 1.53 10-yard splut, 44″ vertical, and 141″ broad jump. Thornhill is also a playmaker in the secondary, as he leaves campus with 13 career interceptions.
20th pick (84th overall) – DT Khalen Saunders, Western Illinois
Another favorite day two prospect of mine. Saunders is a great value here as he dominated his level of competition and then excelled at the Senior Bowl. Saunders is a great athlete that shows three down potential.
28th pick (201st overall) – CB Rashad Fenton, South Carolina
The Chiefs have the worst corner depth chart in the NFL, and it isn’t close. The fact they waited until now to address the position is managerial malpractice.
41st pick (214th overall) – RB Darwin Thompson, Utah State
Of course Andy Reid is the one that ends up with Thompson. One of the better running back sleepers, Thompson possesses a skill set similar to Tarik Cohen with elite start-stop athleticism. Imagine Cohen in Reid’s offense.
2nd pick (216th overall) – C Nick Allegretti, Illinois
We need to discuss the Frank Clark trade. In the same manner that Odell Beckham Jr. is a part of the Browns 2019 draft haul, Clark is a part of the Chiefs haul. While I was more willing to overlook Cleveland shipping out cost controlled assets for a player making market value, I’m less inclined to do so in this instance.
The Chiefs gave up picks 29, 92, and the lesser of their 2020 second rounders for Clark plus 84. According to the projected math of Bill Barnwell, “this trade values Clark at 21.1 points of draft capital, which is somewhere between the seventh and eighth overall picks.”
The Chiefs decided to follow in the footsteps of the Bears, trading away premium assets to then hand out a top of the market contract. This is a mortal sin in baseball, evidence by the fact the Yankees acquired Giancarlo Stanton for a brown paper bag. It’s just a poor allocation of resources.
Kansas City is attempting to go the way of the Eagles and Rams, as in maximizing the roster around a quarterback on a rookie scale deal. The issue is that should be done in free agency or with your own guys, for instance by franchising Dee Ford for one season.
The other difference between Beckham and Clark is that the Chiefs are on the hook for all $62.3 milloon guaranteed in the contract. The Giants already handed Beckham a massive amount of cash, and the Browns inherited only $22.3 million of guaranteed money. Kansas City also made Clark the third highest paid edge defender by average annual value. Beckham is the highest paid receiver in football, and there is a reasonable argument that he is the best receiver in football. There is no reasonable argument that Clark is a top three edge defender.
To reiterate, the Clark trade was an overpay. The Chiefs simply didn’t get value out of the trade. The team then reached for a very specific skill set in a receiver, most likely because they know Hill won’t be a part of the roster in 2019. That move reeks of desperation.
Kansas City rebounded with a coverage weapon and an interesting defensive line prospect. They found a potential steal at running back in the sixth round, but inexplicably ignored the corner position until the fifth round.
Grade: C- (Thank goodness Frank Clark is good)
Los Angeles Chargers
28th pick (28th overall) – DT Jerry Tillery, Notre Dame
Tillery is one of the most underrated players in this class. An absolute menace in the middle of Notre Dame’s defense, Tillery racked up 8 sacks and 33 hurries in 2018. In his final two seasons on campus, Tillery compiled 63 total hurries. He belonged in first half of the first round, making this the biggest steal of opening night
28th pick (60th overall) – S Nasir Adderley, Delaware
And this is the biggest steal of the second round. Adderley was a top 30 player and should have gone in round one. His center field skill set matches perfectly with Derwin James. This selection genuinely creates the potential for the Chargers to have the best safety duo in the league in short order. Adderley has been fantastic in coverage the past two seasons, and added 4 interceptions to his resume in 2018.
27th pick (91st overall) – OT Trey Pipkins, Sioux Falls
Pipkins is a reach at this juncture, but not horribly so and he plays one of the four premier positions. Pipkins possesses an NFL frame and natural balance. With proper coaching he could develop into a worthwhile roll of the dice here in the third round.
28th pick (130th overall) – LB Drue Tranquill, Notre Dame
Tranquill is a good value here as the former safety brings strong coverage play to the linebacker position. Tranquill is a good athlete for a linebacker, as the 234 pounder ran a 4.57 40 with a 1.58 10-yard split, to go along with a 37.5″ vertical, 122″ broad jump, and a 6.94 3-cone.
28th pick (166th overall) – QB Easton Stick, North Dakota State
Stick is a reach here by at least a round, but in a bad quarterback class its understandable that the Chargers wanted to lock up their preferred development prospect. Stick is pretty good at avoiding turnover worthy plays and pushing the ball down field. He is also a good scrambler, as he has great athleticism for the position. At the combine, Stick ran a 4.62 40 with a 1.62 10-yard split, and posted a 6.65 3-cone.
27th pick (200th overall) – LB Emeke Egbule, Houston
Egbule fits the range here and offers some pass rush potential. While he didn’t rack up sack totals at Houston, the athletic Egbule totaled a decent amount of pressures over the past two seasons.
28th pick (242nd overall) – DT Cortez Broughton, Cincinnati
The Chargers sat at all seven of their original draft slots and made a selection. In terms of teams that stayed put in the first two rounds, no one did better than Los Angeles. The Chargers reached in the third and fifth rounds, but did so at offensive tackle and quarterback. Mostly speaking, Los Angeles got great or fair value on their picks, and added two immediate impact contributors to their defense.
4th pick (4th overall) – Edge Clelin Ferrell, Clemson
I.. I just.. ugh. Where do we even start? After sending home their scouts for fear of draft leaks, it then leaked the Raiders were planning on a “surprise” pick in the first round. I guess Gruden and Mayock had a point in sending home their scouts.
This is just garbage. Ferrell is a fine player that should have gone in the 20’s. He is not, however, the second best edge defender, or fourth best player, in this class. Passing on Josh Allen in favor of Ferrell is just insanity. Not trading down first before selecting Ferrell is a fireable offense. This absolutely reeks of Gruden having the final say over Mayock in the organizational hierarchy.
If the rumors are true the Raiders weren’t high on Josh Allen because they didn’t think he fits the defensive scheme Oakland wants to run, then it’s time to clean house. Good coaches build around their players and put them in a position to succeed. If your defensive coordinator can’t figure out how to utilize Josh Allen then you need a new defensive coordinator.
Whether he had final say or not, the Mayock era is off to a bad start.
24th pick (24th overall) – RB Josh Jacobs, Alabama
And the Mayock era continues to get worse. Not only is Jacobs a second round caliber prospect, but following up the disaster at #4 with a first round running back should have prompted ownership to intervene on the spot.
So Oakland traded away Khalil Mack (and a second rounder!) for a run of the mill running back prospect and a 2020 first round pick?
27th pick (27th overall) – S Johnathan Abram, Mississippi State
All Oakland fans should be in a state of panic over the Gruden/Mayock duo. I really hope Mayock’s hands are tied here and this is Gruden just having no idea what he is doing. After a god awful selection in the top five and the selection of an unworthy first round running back, the Oakland brain trust came back with an in the box safety that struggles in coverage.
This is the exact opposite of how to get value out of the draft.
8th pick (40th overall) – CB Trayvon Mullen, Clemson
This team just cannot stop reaching. Mullen is a good athlete that plays a premium position, but he should have gone in the third or fourth round. The Raiders opted for Mullen when Greedy Williams, David Long, Justin Layne, Julian Love, and Joejuan Williams were all still available.
At least Oakland traded down a few slots before making this selection. The Raiders originally had the 35th selection, but moved down in a minor deal with Jacksonville. The Jaguars sent the 38th and 109th picks for 35, 140, and 235. Oakland profited 1 point worth of draft capital in the deal, the same as the 197th pick.
The Raiders then traded down again from 38 to 40. The Bills sent 40 and 158 for 38. Oakland profited 2.1 points of draft capital in the deal, the equivalent of the 165th pick.
4th pick (106th overall) – Edge Maxx Crosby, Eastern Michigan
They did it you guys! Oakland made a good selection!
Crosby is a good value here, as he should have gone in the middle of day two. He has been a great pass rusher at his level of competition for two years and has fantastic natural bend. Crosby is also an exceptional athlete, running a 4.66 40 with a 1.61 10-yard split at the combine, to go along with a 36″ vertical, 122″ broad jump, and 6.89 3-cone at 255 pounds.
27th pick (129th overall) – CB Isaiah Johnson, Houston
There is a good chance the Raiders got a better corner here than they did at the top of the second round. I’d write more about this selection, but since Oakland put no effort into their draft I don’t see why I should put effort into reviewing their draft.
(Johnson is a tall, long, athletic corner that has only played the position for two seasons but has shown improvement during his time at corner. This is a very good value late in the fourth.)
35th pick (137th overall) – TE Foster Moreau, LSU
“..[P]roject[s] as a low-ceiling, high-floor backup ‘Y’ tight end.” – Dane Brugler
Mr. 2-Y-Banana reached on a Y tight end. Color me surprised.
11th pick (149th overall) – WR Hunter Renfrow, Clemson
I like to think that in the war room, Gruden said out loud “who would Belichick draft here?” to which Mayock replied, “I got it!”
Gruden is trash. At least they made a lot of picks?