For 3/4 of the AFC West, the mission for the draft was simple: try and catch up to the Broncos. Meanwhile, Denver had quite a different goal, as they're looking to make it to the Super Bowl with a very talented roster and an aging quarterback.
Did the AFC West as a whole have a strong draft class? Did the Broncos find the talent they need to get them to the next level? Mark Dulgerian explores that and more and he grades each class in the AFC West.
San Diego Chargers
1.11 DJ Fluker, OT, Alabama
2.6 Manti Te’o, ILB, Notre Dame
3.14 Keenan Allen, WR, Cal
5.12 Steve Williams, CB, Cal
6.11 Tourek Williams, DE, Florida International
7.15 Brad Sorensen, QB, Southern Utah
Analysis: The Chargers had the best draft in the division addressing immediate needs on offense and defense with their first two picks. They finally drafted a plug and play tackle in mauler DJ Fluker. Fluker is only suited for the right side but he adds some versatility if they ever need to kick him inside to guard.
Manti Te’o is the pick making most noise in San Diego for reasons “unknown”. While his skill set isn’t best suited for a 34 scheme, many projected him in the first round. It’s easy to dwell on the abysmal National Championship game but when you consider his overall body of work he’s capable of making impact plays and brings toughness and leadership to a defense that lacks those qualities. He should be able to focus on football in a city that has a relatively passive media base.
In 3 years we could be talking about their third round pick being the best in this year’s draft class. Cal’s Keenan Allen is Optimum Scouting’s top receiver who fell because of an in-season knee injury that lingered leading up to the draft. Phillip Rivers will love his ball skills and ability to make plays in traffic. Allen will have a familiar matchup during practices in speedy cornerback Steve Williams. He was likely chosen to add depth after the departure of Antoine Cason, but would have likely been on the board a round or two later. Tourek Williams is a versatile DE/OLB who fits the 34 scheme. Brad Sorensen’s big time arm was too intriguing to pass on but there were more skilled quarterbacks with better upside still on the board.
At the end of the day, the Chargers got enough immediate contributors early in the draft to warrant a B+.
Kansas City Chiefs
1.1 Eric Fisher, OT, Central Michigan
3.1 Travis Kelce, TE, Cincinnati
3.34 Knile Davis, RB, Arkansas
4.2 Nico Johnson, ILB, Alabama
5.1 Sanders Commings, CB, Georgia
6.2 Eric Kush, OC, California (PA)
6.36 Braden Wilson, FB, Kansas St
7.1 Mike Catapano, DE, Princeton
Analysis: When looking at the roster, you can’t help but think Andy Reid is excited about the foundation of talent he walked into. In fact, you could argue the Chiefs are the most talented team on paper in the AFC West. With Brandon Albert most likely re-signing, the team took the best offensive tackle in the draft in Eric Fisher to bookend the other side for their newly acquired quarterback, Alex Smith. Fisher is an outstanding athlete who should fit in very well with the blocking schemes Reid likes to use.
Travis Kelce is quietly one of the most talented tight ends in this draft so he was an excellent value in the third. He plays with NFL tenacity and is just as good a blocker as he is a receiver, which usually translates to early playing time. The Knile Davis pick was questionable. There were plenty of other more talented backs available and you can’t help but think the Chiefs took the “workout warrior” bait.
Inside linebacker Nico Johnson was chosen right where we graded him but there are some stiffness concerns. Georgia’s Sanders Commings fits the Chiefs physical play in the defensive backfield but he comes with some character concerns. Small school lineman Eric Kush is a developmental guy who provides some versatility and Braden Wilson is likely a special teams addition who has a chance to earn a niche role in the offense down the road. Princeton’s Mike Catapano is the type of blue collar, high motor edge rusher coaches love and also an excellent value.
The Chiefs started the draft strong but the rest was somewhat ho-hum. The first two picks barely make this class above average at a B-.
1.12 DJ Hayden, CB, Houston
2.10 Menelik Watson, OT, Florida St
3.4 Sio Moore, OLB, Conneticut
4.15 Tyler Wilson, QB, Arkansas
6.4 Nick Kasa, TE, Colorado
6.13 Latavius Murray, RB, Central Florida
6.16 Mychal Rivera, TE, Tennessee
6.37 Stacy McGee, DT, Oklahoma
7.3 Brice Butler, WR, San Diego St
7.27 David Bass, DE, Missouri Western
Analysis: The Raiders quietly had a very solid draft from top to bottom. They took their guy, DJ Hayden, a lot higher than he grades out with us but he’s a balanced corner who can cover at the boundaries. To boot, he’s got the most inspirational story in the draft. Menelik Watson has enough upside to the point where some teams likely had a first round grade on him. He’s an excellent athlete who should compete early for a starting spot. UConn’s Sio Moore is a value pick who brings athleticism to the linebacker corps. It wasn’t a need, but if he has a strong camp they could shift some guys around to get him into the starting lineup. Arkansas QB Tyler Wilson is yet another solid pick on Day 3. He’s a skilled player with excellent intangibles whose competition for the backup spot is Terrelle Pryor and a guy who has two career starts mans the starting spot.
Two of the Raiders’ 4 picks in the sixth round addressed their need at tight end in Mychal Rivera and Nick Kasa—players they had up close experience with at the Senior Bowl. Latavius Murray adds depth to an injury prone running back group and San Diego State’s Brice Butler is the size/speed athlete who the Raiders could also try at corner. David Bass is a small school guy who had a solid showing against top competition at the Senior Bowl and a guy who graded much higher than his selection spot.
The Raiders didn’t knock it out of the park with any of their picks but they came away with a good class overall. They earned a B+.
1.28 Sylvester Williams, DT, North Carolina
2.26 Montee Ball, RB, Wisconsin
3.28 Kayvon Webster, CB, South Florida
5.13 Quanterus Smith, DE, Western Kentucky
5.28 Tavarres King, WR, Georgia
6.5 Vinston Painter, OT, Virginia Tech
7.28 Zac Dysert, QB, Miami (OH)
Analysis: Broncos management once again came away with a very solid draft and picked up one of the better values late in the first round in defensive tackle Sylvester Williams. He is a large two-gapper who fills a need on an improved defensive line which bodes well against the AFC West running backs. Montee Ball is a perfect fit for the Broncos’ zone run scheme as explained in one of our pre-draft articles here. With Willis McGahee aging, Ball could get a steady workload as a rookie. South Florida’s Kayvon Webster was a bit of a reach in the third round as he’ll need some time to develop.
Quanterus Smith is an excellent value in the fifth round. He is raw but flashed a ton during the season, particularly in a dominant game he had against Alabama. Tavarres King is a smooth receiver who could emerge as an early contributor for Peyton Manning and the Bronco offense. Vinston Painter is a solid athlete who will add depth at offensive tackle but he’s under developed. John Elway expressed his excitement for the Zac Dysert pick publicly. Dysert was a value pick but don’t be surprised if he climbs the depth chart.
Defensively the Broncos got better in the draft and it’s not crazy to assume solid development from the offensive guys as long as Manning is around. This class earned a B.