Offseason Grades: AFC West

  • Denver Broncos
    • Best Draft Pick – Bradley Chubb, EDGE, NC State
      • I thought there was no chance the Browns would take anyone but Baker Mayfield and Chubb/Saquon Barkley, whichever was available. The pick of Denzel Ward at 4 shocked me, not as a bad pick, but as a surprising one. That allowed the Broncos to take Chubb at five, giving them four starting-quality edge rushers on the roster. Expect the pass rush to be ferocious this season.
    • Worst Draft Pick – David Williams, RB, Arkansas
      • This isn’t necessarily a horrible pick from a value perspective, I just don’t understand the thinking behind it. The Broncos had already drafted Royce Freeman in the third round, potentially to be their feature back. Freeman, along with holdover Devontae Booker, should take up nearly all of the carries this year, and both run with a good amount of power. Power is all that Williams has, but the Broncos already had it in surplus.
    • Best Signing – Marquette King, P
      • In my opinion, King is the best punter in the league. He should never have hit the open market. Need I say more?
    • Worst Loss – Aqib Talib, CB
      • There shouldn’t be a huge loss in the quality of play at Talib’s old spot, with Bradley Roby moving outside to replace him. However, that will vacate the nickel corner position, leaving it wide open for competition. Don’t expect a huge drop-off, there just may be a few issues with the defenses meshing with a new group.
    • Grade: B-
  • Oakland Raiders
    • Best Draft Pick – Maurice Hurst, DL, Michigan
      • Maurice Hurst was the second best interior defensive lineman in the class. Yes, it’s a risky pick because of his heart condition, but it was a risk worth taking in the fifth round.
    • Worst Draft Pick – Johnny Townsend, P, Florida
      • It’s not that this wasn’t a quality pick that fits a need, but they could have kept Marquette King instead of having an unproven rookie. Just saying.
    • Best Signing – Doug Martin, RB
      • The Raiders finally got Marshawn Lynch a quality running mate. They now have two workhorse-quality backs, and a couple of quality, young change-of-pace backs as well.
    • Worst Loss – Marquette King, P
      • Jon Gruden is a great coach. I spent my childhood watching him on ESPN, and I’ve never gotten the chance to truly watch him as a coach. Seeing him this year has been great so far. Gruden appears to value locker-room fit and past-production over projections and talent. He also prefers physical players over finesse players. I think it’s great that he wants to throw football back to the ‘90s. However, this move just confused me. King is easily one of the two best punters in the league (with Johnny Hekker) and provides a field flipping ability rare in a special-teams player. That just isn’t something you give up easily, or without compensation.
    • Grade: B+
  • Kansas City Chiefs
    • Best Draft Pick – Derrick Nnadi, DT, Florida State
      • This is not to say that Nnadi was a good pick here, only that he was the best of six bad ones. He provides the Chiefs with some run stuffing potential on the defensive line. Stability at nose tackle is something they have been missing since Dontari Poe left, and Nnadi should be able to provide that.
    • Worst Draft Pick – Breeland Speaks, DL, Ole Miss
      • The Chiefs could have taken Christian Kirk here. Instead, they take a defensive lineman who I had a day-three grade on. After the pick of Speaks, the Chiefs took two more defensive tackles in Derrick Nnadi and Kahlil McKenzie. What was the point of reaching to take a player, only to take a better player at the same position 30 picks later?
    • Best Signing – Sammy Watkins, WR
      • Patrick Mahomes has one of the strongest arms in football. Having him paired with Tyreek Hill already gave the Chiefs one lethal connection. Watkins gives him two. Travis Kelce and Kareem Hunt give him two quality dump-off options. This is the most complete offense the Chiefs have fielded in a long time, and most of that is because of the presence of Watkins, their second elite receiver.
    • Worst Loss – Marcus Peters, CB
      • Peters is just 25 and one of the most talented cornerbacks in football. He still has two years left on his rookie deal before he will have to get paid. Yet the Chiefs gave him up for only a second and a fourth-round pick. They also gave the Rams a sixth in the deal. In my mind, Peters should have fetched at least a couple of firsts, maybe more. There are only so many elite cornerbacks in the NFL. They have to be worth more than that.
    • Grade: D+
  • Los Angeles Chargers
    • Best Draft Pick – Derwin James, S, Florida State
      • I expected James to be long gone by this pick. Yet, he wasn’t, so the Chargers did exactly what the Colts did last year – pick up a safety with top-10 talent in the mid-teens. James fits the past Chargers safety mold as well, playing very well against both the pass and the run. LA may have gotten its new Eric Weddle.
    • Worst Draft Pick – Uchenna Nwosu, EDGE, USC
      • Nwosu isn’t a bad fit for the Chargers, and he’s not a bad player, either. But in the second round, most teams are still going for players that will start immediately or in the near future. With Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram already in the fold, Nwosu won’t be much more than a special-teamer in LA.
    • Best Signing – Mike Pouncey, C
      • Picking up the 28-year-old Pouncey was a move of genius from the Chargers, who badly needed offensive line help. While he has shown signs of decline, this is clearly a win-now move from LA, which makes sense given their 36-year-old quarterback.
    • Worst Loss – Hunter Henry, TE
      • While Henry is still on the roster, the Chargers lost their most consistent target for the season when he tore his ACL. Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, and Travis Benjamin make up a quality receiving corps, but they have injury issues and are inconsistent even when they are on the field. Hunter and Antonio Gates were Phillip Rivers’ backup options last season, and without them, someone has to step up in the passing game.
    • Grade: B
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