The AFC West is mostly full of hope. All four teams are future-focused, with two making the playoffs last season, and the other two in the early days of regime changes. All four teams need to use this draft to either push them over the edge in making a Super Bowl, or show signs of promise for years to come. Here’s how each team might address their needs with the NFL draft.
The Broncos have begun rebuilding the roster, even if there are household names still around. They’ve added a bridge Quarterback in Joe Flacco so that they can add the right guy when they’re ready. They’ve jettisoned talent elsewhere to allow themselves to become younger, with Wide Receiver Demaryius Thomas, Cornerback Bradley Roby, and Running Back CJ Anderson all released in the past few seasons.
From last year’s draft, the Broncos have a lot of young talent on Offense. Courtland Sutton showed positive signs last season, and there are a few other young WRs alongside him. But Denver could easily use the strong WR class to add a WR2 to replace Emmanuel Sanders.
Likewise, adding a dynamic Tight End could be on the cards for them, maybe at the cost of a WR. The other areas of the Offense that the Broncos will look at is adding an Offensive Guard, and further depth for the Offensive Line. And of course, the Broncos will be linked with QBs for years to come, until they draft a potential franchise QB.
The Defense, however, is another story. While the Offense might have few dire needs, all three levels of the Defense need urgent work. Aside from the pass rush led by Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, all positions could be addressed, and even an edge rusher wouldn’t go astray. The first round will most likely see them take one of the interior Defensive Lineman, unless they plan to draft a QB instead.
Safety is the other priority the Broncos have, and should be targeted in the middle rounds. It’s highly likely they don’t add a CB in the draft given the offseason additions of Kareem Jackson and Bryce Callahan, but with new Head Coach Vic Fangio, he will want Defensive Backs that suit his system. To complete the Defense, he may also want an upgrade at Linebacker for pass coverage, but LB is another spot we might see the Broncos ignore this year.
Kansas City Chiefs
The Chiefs have been knocking on the door of the Super Bowl ever since Andy Reid became Head Coach, but are yet to take the final step. They were closer than ever last season, and the Offense seemed to be one of the best Reid had ever coached. But then they lost Kareem Hunt, and it’s possible Tyreek Hill could miss time, resulting in a few areas on Offense needing fixing that were unexpected before last season.
Despite losing Hunt, Damien Williams and Carlos Hyde should be more than capable replacements. WR also needs work, not only to replace Hill’s production if he misses time, but a big-bodied chain-mover would give the Offense an extra dimension. Drafting a Center and Offensive Guard would also enhance the Offense, but with the needs on Defense, they may not add both.
Some of the Chiefs’ needs on Defense have been addressed with Free Agency already. Despite losing Justin Houston, they’ve added edge rushers in Emmanuel Ogbah, Alex Okafor, and Jeremiah Attaochu. They’ve also added a CB in Beshaud Breeland, but they could still spend another pick here.
The other face of the Defense, Eric Berry, is also no longer with the team, and the Safety positions needed work even before he left. There’s a good chance the Chiefs use their first round or one of their second round picks on the position. Getting faster at LB and depth at Nose Tackle are the other major focuses for the draft.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers are loading up to finally get QB Philip Rivers a ring. They’ve been inching closer in recent years, and among all teams in the NFL have relatively few needs. Ironically, one of those needs is a backup QB, and there is a good likelihood they will add a future franchise QB sooner rather than later. However, if it isn’t Josh Rosen this offseason, it probably won’t be anyone.
Should we REALLY make our schedule release video with stock footage?— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) April 18, 2019
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Depth is the main focus of most of their needs in the draft. They need depth along the entire DL, especially to rotate DEs Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram more often. Depth (or even an upgrade) at LB is another priority, particularly ILB. Lastly on Defense, adding another CB and pairing a Free Safety with last year’s first round pick Derwin James will make them more versatile.
On Offense, the Chargers mainly need to add an OT and a WR2. Keenan Allen is the clear WR1, but they lack a shifty route runner that can take pressure off him. It’s possible they invest in a RB or TE to safeguard themselves against injury, but both would be luxury picks.
There are few teams in the NFL where less is known about what this team will look like in a year’s time. Current QB Derek Carr could be gone, and both sides of the ball remain a work in progress. They’ve added veterans on short-term deals, but there is still a dearth of talent in many spots on the roster.
On both sides of the line, Oakland needs to find upgrades. At Offensive Guard and Tackle they need young starters, and they began this process by adding OT Trent Brown in the offseason. On Defense, the interior of the line is solid through last year’s additions, but the edge needs more work, and one of their first round picks will address this.
Great pass rushers are hard to find, of course, and the #Raiders have two good ones in the building today: Kentucky’s Josh Allen and Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell are in Oakland for a pre-draft visit, I’m told.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) April 16, 2019
Oakland also needs LBs, especially ones that can rush the passer and help in the passing game. The DBs also need more work, but in an average year for CBs, they might not find the starter they need. Instead, replacing Strong Safety Karl Joseph, who appears to be on the way out, is a more likely use of their limited picks.
The Offense, however, has been the beneficiary of much offseason work. The WRs have been overhauled with the additions of Antonio Brown, Tyrell Williams and JJ Nelson. The other skill positions still need work, and TE could be where one of their three first round picks goes. Especially as one of Carr’s favourite targets last year was TE Jared Cook, who is no longer with the team. At RB, the Raiders will add at least one player as early as the second round, and possibly a second as an Undrafted Free Agent.