By Dayna O’Gorman // @DaynaOG
There is seriously tough competition in the AFC West. It is home to the AFC Champion from the last two seasons.
In a division that has one of, if not the, strongest teams in the league, how did the other 3 franchises look to add to their rosters in order to compete with the Patrick Mahomes/Andy Reid machine in Kansas City? Pretty well according to many in the business.
Let’s take a look at each team in the division and their draft picks.
Las Vegas Raiders
With the Raiders splitting the season at 8-8 last season, they knew they didn’t need a complete overhaul in order to get better. However, the grades given to this year’s Raiders draft were mostly B’s and C’s, with one D coming in from Vinny Iver from Sporting News.
Most thought their first-round pick, Alex Leatherwood T Alabama, was a bit of a reach, but everyone seemed to LOVE the Trevon Moehrig S TCU. They were almost gushing about how much they loved this pick. They used 5 of their 7 picks on defense, which makes complete sense in this high octane offensive division.
Rd 1 – Alex Leatherwood, T, Alabama
Rd 2 – Trevon Moehrig, S, TCU
Rd 3 – Malcolm Koonce, DE, Buffalo
Rd 3 – Divine Deablo, DB, Virginia Tech
Rd 4 – Tyree Gillespie, S, Missouri
Rd 5 – Nate Hobbs, CB, Illinois
Rd 7 – Jimmy Morrissey, C, Pittsburgh
Trevon Moehrig: 92.8 career coverage grade
— PFF (@PFF) May 1, 2021
Los Angeles Chargers
Now we all know that draft grades don’t mean much, but Charger fans can hang their hats on the fact that most experts feel like their team hit it out of the park this year. While there is no question the Chargers found their franchise quarterback last year in Justin Herbert, the team needed to build around him, and that they did.
They added one of the best tackles in the draft in Rashawn Slater out of Northwestern, which is one more important piece in the rebuild of the offensive line this offseason. They also added a tight end, wide receiver, and running back to compliment the offense.
That doesn’t mean they forgot the defense, which would be a sin in this division, using 4 of their 9 picks to add to the defense. One of those picks was Asante Samuel Jr, cornerback from Florida State, whose forced incompletion rate in his college career was over 20%.
R1 – Rashawn Slater, T, Northwestern
R2 – Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
R3 – Josh Palmer, WR, Tennessee
R3 – Tre’ McKitty, TE, Georgia
R4 – Chris Rumph II, DE, Duke
R5 – Brenden Jaimes, T, Nebraska
R6 – Nick Niemann, LB, Iowa
R6 – Larry Rountree III, RB, Missouri
R7 – Mark Webb, CB, Georgia
A draft without John Elway at the helm. How weird must that be for Broncos fans? But the first draft sans Elway seemed to impress the talking heads, giving them, according to Mile High Sports, a 3.42 GPA.
Denver had 10 draft picks in 2021 and used them on very versatile and well-rounded players. Their first pick was a slam dunk when they selected Patrick Surtain II, CB, from Alabama. I love watching that kid play and I think he will do well against the strong offenses in the AFC West.
There were a lot of rumors flying about Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers being traded to the Broncos right before the draft. A few days before that, Denver traded for former Carolina Panthers QB Teddy Bridgewater. By picking Surtain in the first round instead of one of the top QBs, it proved either they have a lot of faith in Bridgewater, still believe in current QB Drew Lock, or there is more the Rodgers story than just rumor. We’ll have to wait and see.
All in all, the Broncos had a very nice draft and filled many holes they had on their team.
Rd 1 – Patrick Surtain II, CB, Alabama
Rd 2 – Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina
Rd 3 – Quinn Meinerz, OG, Wisconsin-Whitewater
Rd 3 – Baron Browning, LB, Ohio State
Rd 5 – Caden Sterns, S, Texas
Rd 5 – Jamar Johnson, S, Indiana
Rd 6 – Seth Williams, WR, Auburn
Rd 7 – Kary Vincent, CB, Auburn
Rd 7 – Jonathon Cooper, LB, Ohio State
Rd 7 – Marquiss Spencer, DE, Mississippi State
CB Patrick Surtain and then RB Javonte Williams. New GM George Paton having himself a nice little first draft in Denver. Broncos fans have to be liking this.
— Jim Nagy (@JimNagy_SB) April 30, 2021
Kansas City Chiefs
The rich get richer. That’s the only way to describe the Chiefs draft in 2021. And while they didn’t have a first-round pick, if you look at the way the experts are talking about their draft, they didn’t need one.
Their round 2 selections alone would make this a successful draft, but they managed to find hidden gems in each round. However, the selection of Creed Humphrey with the 63rd overall pick was a rockstar move. Humphrey is a top 10 player at his position and completely ready to roll in the NFL.
They managed to fill what few spots of need they had (including a blocking TE in Noah Gray) and found great depth at other spots. Once again, they will be the team to beat in the division and most likely the league.
Rd 2 – Nick Bolton, LB, Missouri
Rd 2 – Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
Rd 4 – Joshua Kaindoh, DE, Florida State
Rd 5 – Noah Gray, TE, Duke
Rd 5 – Cornell Powell, WR, Clemson
Rd 6 – Trey Smith, OL, Tennessee
The teams in the AFC West not named the Kansas City Chiefs understood the stakes in the 2021 NFL Draft. In order to beat the Chiefs, you have to outrun them and slow them down. The Chiefs also understand they have a target on their backs and need to keep adding weapons. All four teams seemed to do exactly what they needed to this draft season.
Follow Dayna on Twitter // @DaynaOG