The 2023 NFL Draft is now in the books, so it’s time for the annual NFL Draft Grades by Simon Shortt. Today we will be discussing the: AFC West.
Denver Broncos – B
Team Needs: DL, LB, DB
Just like last year, if a team has used their draft picks from this draft to make a big trade, I factor that into the grade. But right now, the first two picks being out the door for just the 2022-23 Russell Wilson to this point isn’t helping much. I’m calling it an “incomplete” for now.
That said, I think the Broncos managed to get good players in this draft. The thing they missed addressing most in the draft was a defensive lineman/edge rusher. But for where they were drafting, there weren’t a ton of options. I would’ve liked to have seen someone line Zacch Pickens, Zach Harrison or (either) Byron Young go to them potentially even at 63.
Unless a move for one of those WRs is on the horizon this year or next, kicking the draft off with WR Marvin Mims was a little confusing of a choice. But Drew Sanders, Riley Moss and JL Skinner could all help this defense on Day 1.
Kansas City Chiefs – B
Team Needs: T, EDGE, WR
The Chiefs could have used another offensive tackle to play across from Jawaan Taylor. But it’s hard to do that in the 30s and 50s. That said, they maybe found a decent one in the third round in Wanya Morris.
Before Morris, the Chiefs selected EDGE Felix Anudike-Uzomah and WR Rashee Rice. Which were both solid picks. When you have the best quarterback in the league and are coming off a Super Bowl win, you can afford to take swings on high-value positions.
Kansas City doesn’t seem to have blown this draft out of the water like last year, but they did bring in some solid players to try and develop.
Las Vegas Raiders – B
Team Needs: OL, DL, DB
A bit of a boring division so far. No one was BAD, everyone was SOLID, but no one was GREAT.
It was a good start getting edge rusher Tyree Wilson. I’m not generally a fan of good edge rushers going to bad defenses in the draft, but when you’re getting your SECOND good edge rusher to play across from Maxx Crosby it’s pretty hard to go another direction.
I did also like the move up for TE Michael Mayer. We know Head Coach Josh McDaniels likes to utilize the tight end. However, as the draft went along I liked each pick less and less.
In the third round Las Vegas picked up solid players on both side of the ball in DT Byron Young (ALA) and WR Tre Tucker. And then Day 3 left a little to be desired. But other than a potential backup QB the Raiders are throwing stuff at the proverbial wall that is the defense. Which overall was the right way to play it with a defense this bare.
Had the Raiders addressed the right side of their offensive line even a little bit, I might’ve given this draft a B+. But to completely ignore the line was a mistake.
Los Angeles Chargers – C
Team Needs: WR w speed, DT, LB
Sometimes even if the players drafted were good, if they go to the wrong team it can really hurt the grade. And that’s what happened here with the Chargers.
I’m cautiously optimistic about WR Quentin Johnston’s game, who LA took at 21 overall. He’s dealt with drops, and for as dynamic as he is doesn’t have elite downfield speed. Justin Herbert and the Chargers needed someone to stretch the field vertically to create room for Wide Receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and take advantage of Herbert’s arm. Johnston doesn’t do that with his catch-short-run-long game.
On Day 2 they took EDGE Tuli Tuipulotu and LB Daiyan Henley. I like both players. And Tuipulotu’s versatility is intriguing, I just don’t know if at less than 270-275 pounds in a 3-4 defense if he’s going to be a run stopper as a 4i/5T, which is what this team needs most.
Daiyan Henley is a good player and coverage linebacker, but at 6’1, 225 pounds he’s not going to be a thumper when it comes to stopping the run either.
Again, I do LIKE these players, which is why this technically isn’t a “bad” grade, it’s just not what I like for the Chargers specifically.
The NFL Draft grades for the AFC West are fairly mild, with three teams just trying to find a way to compete with the Super Bowl Champion Chiefs. The Raiders and Broncos are doing so by trying to build a strong defense, while the Chargers are adding firepower on offense. While I don’t expect to see a new division champion this year, we’ll see how close these teams can get.
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