Draft Review: AFC West

Draft weekend is over. It’s sad times in the lair. I guess it’s back to binging super hero movies until fantasy season picks up for us keyboard warriors. But before we go open Disney+, here’s some grades. Remember, I did an analysis of each pick of the first round already, and be sure to check out the earlier editions of the review series.

Denver Broncos – B

The Broncos left the draft with an absolute haul. You can never have enough corners and grabbing Patrick Surtain is a wise move. Trading up, however, is not wise when it isn’t for a quarterback, let alone it being for a running back. Drafting Javonte Williams most likely signals 2021 as Melvin Gordon’s last Denver. I love Williams as a player and a prospect. What I don’t love are second round running backs you traded up to get. The Broncos shipped off #40 and #114 for #35 and #219. Flipping up 5 spots in the second to fall back 115 later. Denver overpaid by 3.2 points worth of draft capital according to the Chase Stuart draft chart.

George Paton then tapped two draft darlings in the third with Quinn Meinerz and Baron Browning. Meinerz is the DIII prospect that rocketed up draft boards after showing up to the Senior Bowl and dominating. Many were expecting him to be a top 50 pick so to get him at 98 is fantastic. Browning has all of the athletic traits you want and was a top 10 recruit coming out of high school. His issue is processing speed but if Fangio can put him in a position to just go and not have to think this could be a major steal.

The Broncos then put on a show on Day 3. Denver started by doubling up at safety with Cade Sterns and Jamar Johnson in the 5th round. Johnson particularly is an outrageous value. He was my #2 safety and has some of the best range and ball skills in the class. With Mahomes and Herbert in the division it’s impossible to over invest in the secondary.

The Broncos then spent their sixth rounder on Seth Williams out of Auburn. A monstrous wideout at 6’3″ 211, had Williams gone anywhere on Day 3 I wouldn’t have been surprised so the late 6th is fantastic value.

Paton then went back to the secondary in the 7th with Kary Vincent Jr., a lightening fast corner out of LSU. Jonathon Cooper was an edge rusher I thought was rising up boards late. I was wrong but snagging him in the 7th to see what’s there is another outstanding pick.

At face value this is an A- at least. The group of players is phenomenal but there has to be some sort of a ding for trading up for a running back in the second round.

But we need to talk about Justin Fields. Denver has the worst quarterback situation in the NFL and passed on Fields at 9 after he fell into their lap. I just can’t forgive that. Sans the quarterback position the Broncos have one of the best rosters in the entire league. If they take Fields and he hits they’re a Super Bowl contender.

Even after making the decision to pass, they didn’t trade down. Did Chicago just never call? Did they not reach out to Chicago? What about Washington? If Ryan Pace made the same offer to Denver as he did to the Giants then Paton should have taken the deal. Picking up a 2022 first would have provided ammo to move up next year for the quarterback they’re going to need. The Broncos have to be downgraded for this.

On the plus side, Paton executed two of the best Day 2 trades after moving up for Williams. He first traded down in the third from #71 to #76 and picked up #164 for doing so. He then fell back from #76 for #98 and #105 which is just robbery.

Kansas City Chiefs – B

Obtaining Orlando Brown should be a part of the equation here. It’s a bit tricky as the Chiefs essentially sold off a second rounder for someone who they’re going to have to pay after 2021. Best case they tag Brown in 2022 before reaching an agreement in 2023. Either way, Brown is in for a huge pay day. Let’s circle back to this in a minute.

Kansas City had two actual second round selections and spent them on Nick Bolton and Creed Humphrey. I absolutely love the Humphrey pick. He easily could have gone sooner (no pun intended) and I believe he’s going to be a quality starting offensive lineman. It also makes perfect sense that his positional versatility was attractive to the Chiefs after the disaster in the Super Bowl. As for Bolton, I love him as a prospect but I don’t get the pick. Kansas City could have taken the wideout, corner, or edge defender of their liking and it would have made more sense. These are more important positions where said rookie would have made a bigger impact.

The Chiefs then cleaned up on Day 3. Joshua Kaindoh is a toolsy pass rusher the coaching staff may be able to develop. In a poor tight end class, getting Noah Gray in the 5th is a good value maneuver. Cornell Powell was one of my favorite late receivers and Trey Smith’s talent far exceeds his late 6th draft slot. He fell as a result of a blood clot issue that clearly scared teams off.

Back to the Brown thing. Kansas City clearly spent this offseason making sure a repeat of the Super Bowl would never happen. I think they’re overreacting to a fluky outcome. Having your entire offensive line crumble isn’t a common occurrence. The offensive line is a weak link proposition where you really just need to be average to solid across the board. Instead, the Chiefs made Joe Thuney the highest paid guard in NFL history and traded for Brown who they’re going to have to pay market value to retain (as well as luring Kyle Long out of retirement and drafting Creed Humphrey). Mahomes’ extension kicks in next year with a $35.8 million cap hit. Chris Jones, Frank Clark, and Tyreek Hill all have cap hits over $20 million and Thuney comes in at $17 million and change. Then whatever the franchise tag is for Brown.

At some point this much money tied to this few players isn’t sustainable.

Los Angeles Chargers – B+

The Chargers started off by sitting there and having Rashawn Slater fall to them. Fantastic. Then in the second they got one of my favorite players in Asante Samuel Jr. at #47. I cannot believe that Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell, and Kelvin Joseph went off the board before Samuel, so good for Los Angeles. In the third they decided to roll the dice on the immense upside of Josh Palmer. This receiver class has been heralded for being loaded, but it got lost that a ton of the talent and depth was super fast slot receivers. Palmer is a later-on outside receiver prospect that never quite put it together at Tennessee but has flashed against some of the best competition in the nation during SEC games. Having him opposite Mike Williams with Keenan Allen in the slot is potentially unstoppable, and if Palmer hits the team can like Williams walk in free agency should it need to save some money.

The Chargers had another third rounder that they spent on tight end Tre’ McKitty. I know Hunter Henry left but I don’t get this selection at all. This was a weak tight end class and the fact Freiermuth fell to the late second should have signaled teams could wait on tight end. Two others went off the board before Los Angeles in the third and I think the Chargers just read the room wrong, expecting a run to occur that never transpired. When you compare McKitty to the Chiefs getting Noah Gray in the 5th (or even worse the Texans getting Brevin Jordan in the 5th) this pick just looks bad.

I personally don’t have a lot of faith that Chris Rumph can overcome his size issues in the NFL but taking a him in the 4th to probably be a designated pass rusher is perfectly fine. Los Angeles then spent the rest of Day 3 filling out their roster with players you’d figure might stick around on special teams.

Las Vegas Raiders – F

The Alex Leatherwood was terrible which you’ve read 80 times by now so let’s move on. I had Trevon Moehrig as the top safety in this class and figured he’d go in the first round, so to get him at #43 is pretty good. However, the Raiders traded up 5 spots from #48 just to make it happen, throwing #121 to wind.

Maybe I’m being too harsh as this doesn’t seem overly egregious, but Las Vegas is not Trevon Moehrig away from competing so I don’t get why they wouldn’t have rather stayed at 121 as opposed to falling back to 195.

I am convinced Gruden took Malcolm Koonce to show Khalil Mack he can turn any edge from Buffalo University into a stud. Absolutely insane reach. Don’t worry, with their other third rounder the Raiders took Divine Deablo making it too ridiculous reaches in the third frame. There was no shortage of jumbo sized safeties in this class that may need to move to linebacker. The Jets took two of them, one in the 5th and one in the 6th. They’re both debatably better than Deablo, but more importantly Deabloe is not 2-3 rounds better than them.

More secondary in the 4th as Las Vegas took Tyree Gillespie, hitting safety for the third time. I’m all for doubling or tripling up at a position to maximize the odds of finding a good one, but why didn’t the Raiders do this at corner, a more important position where they, like, aren’t good?

I really don’t feel like talking or writing about Vegas anymore. The Gruden-Mayock experiment is a failure and it’s beyond time to move on.

filed under: NFL

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