The Kansas City Chiefs are close to putting it all together, and perhaps adding a few pieces during the NFL Draft will do the trick.
Andy Reid and his men might be the most well-equipped team in the AFC West right now, but the Chargers went 12-4 in 2018 as well and are hot on their trail.
If Los Angeles can land another steal (like they did last year with Derwin James at 17 overall), then we could see Philip Rivers finally get to the Super Bowl after all these years.
Denver is moving forward with Joe Flacco under center, so it’s hard for me to see the Broncos being relevant in this division.
The Raiders are making a bunch of noise in the headlines, but what kind of product will Jon Gruden actually deliver on the field?
My colleague Noah Davis have been assessing the 2019 draft needs for all NFL teams, broken down by division. In this post I’m focusing on my NFL Draft predictions for the AFC West.
- First Round – 10th pick
- Second Round – 41st pick
- Third Round – 71st pick
- Fourth Round – 125th pick
- Fifth Round – 148th pick
- Fifth Round – 156th pick
- Sixth Round – 182nd pick
- Seventh Round – 237th pick
John Elway — not me — made the decision to bring in Joe Flacco. I wouldn’t touch the 34-year-old former Raven QB with a 10-foot pole, but I’m not the one calling the shots in the Mile High City.
Word on the street is that Elway and the Broncos are in love with Drew Lock, so picking the Missouri Tiger quarterback at 10 overall isn’t out of the question. If Denver doesn’t believe they can contend for a division title in 2019 anyway, then perhaps locking up their next franchise QB at this point makes some sense.
We know that Von Miller and Bradley Chubb represent one of the best linebacking duos in all of football, so that is one area on the field that I don’t think Denver is too worried about improving. However, if Devin White (LB, LSU) were to somehow fall into their lap, they might have a difficult time passing him up.
Adding able bodies on both sides of the line of scrimmage is the direction I suspect the Broncos will want to go in the middle rounds, although Jawaan Taylor could be in play if he were to still be on the table at #10. Jonah Williams (OL, Alabama), Andre Dillard (OL, Washington State), and Cody Ford (OL, Oklahoma) could all be targeted as well.
It remains to be seen whether Courtland Sutton and DaeSean Hamilton each pan out, and Emmanuel Sanders is coming off a horrific season-ending Achilles injury. Addressing the wide receiver position will take place at some point within their first few picks, and they also need a tight end who can run routes and be relied on to catch passes.
The sooner they get Joe Flacco some help, the better.
I’ve realized this assessment makes it look like Denver is locked and loaded on defense, which happens to be far from the God’s honest truth. They did come to terms with Kareem Jackson over the offseason, but Chris Harris Jr. is another year older and no longer an elite shutdown corner.
Denver Broncos First Three Picks (Mock)
- First Round – 10th pick: Cody Ford – OL – Oklahoma
- Second Round – 41st pick: Terry McLaurin – WR – Ohio State
- Third Round – 71st pick: Amani Oruwariye – CB – Penn State
Kansas City Chiefs
- First Round – 29th pick
- Second Round – 61st pick
- Second Round – 63rd pick
- Third Round – 92nd pick
- Fifth Round – 167th pick
- Sixth Round – 201st pick
- Sixth Round – 214th pick (compensatory pick)
- Seventh Round – 216th pick
The Kansas City Chiefs came oh-so-close to reaching Super Bowl 53, if it weren’t for Tom Brady and those darn New England Patriots.
The team hardly skipped a beat after Kareem Hunt was let go, as Damien Williams burst onto the scene and looked like one of the most elusive running backs in the league. Carlos Hyde signed on in March, so I doubt we’ll see the Chiefs go after a running back on day 1 or day 2 of the draft.
It seems like shoring up the defensive backfield is the first thing that Brett Veach wants to achieve, despite signing Tyrann Mathieu during the offseason. There should be a handful of top-end cornerbacks available when KC is picking at #29, and I imagine that’s the direction they go in.
The Chiefs traded for Emmanuel Ogbah and signed Alex Okafor, but neither defensive end can be trusted for the long haul. If Kansas City goes with a cornerback at #29, I expect them to draft a defensive end with one of their two second-round picks. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they take a DE in the first round and wait to take a corner at #61 and/or #63.
I imagine Clark Hunt and the Chiefs front office brass will want to take a look at drafting a wide receiver at some point as well, as Tyreek Hill is currently being investigated for alleged battery. Aside from Hill and Sammy Watkins, the wide receiving core is fairly thin.
Names like Deebo Samuel and Riley Ridley could factor in, as could a sure-handed guy like Andy Isabella.
Regardless of what happens from April 25th-27th, the Chiefs will begin the 2019 regular season with reigning NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes leading the way. That alone will help ease any pain for the Chiefs fan base if the draft doesn’t work out like they’re hoping.
Kansas City Chiefs First Three Picks (Mock)
- First Round – 29th pick: Byron Murphy – CB – Washington
- Second Round – 61st pick: Jaylon Ferguson – DE – Louisiana Tech
- Second Round – 63rd pick: Riley Ridley – WR – Alabama
Los Angeles Chargers
- First Round – 28th pick
- Second Round – 60th pick
- Third Round – 91st pick
- Fourth Round – 130th pick
- Fifth Round – 166th pick
- Sixth Round – 200th pick
- Seventh Round – 242nd pick
The Chargers might not have the best roster in the NFL from top to bottom, but I’ll tell you this much.
They’re in the top five.
Philip Rivers leads an offense that is loaded with weapons, and Hunter Henry returns from a knee injury that forced him to miss the entire regular season (despite what Stephen A. Smith might think!). Even the offensive line looks to be intact in LA, although depth in the trenches can never be taken for granted.
When I examine the defense heading into 2019, I see a group that should be among the elite defensive units in all of football. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram provide a ferocious pass rush from the outside, while Desmond King (CB) and Derwin James (SS) were selected to the First-Team All-Pro in 2018.
It seems clear that bulking up at the linebacker position will be a key mission, although they don’t have to necessarily concentrate on that need with the 28th pick. By the time the Bolts are picking in the second and third round, it should be a case where they take the best player available regardless of position.
I believe that drafting the “heir apparent” to Philip Rivers could take place at some point, although I bet they scoop up a defensive tackle first. Perhaps Jeffery Simmons or Jerry Tillery could fit the bill there.
Having a plethora of players on their roster who are already viable options is a good quandary for Anthony Lynn to find himself in. LA will likely have to win at least 12 games if they plan on keeping pace with the Chiefs, which is why boosting their stock during the draft will be so vital to their future success.
Los Angeles Chargers First Three Picks (Mock)
- First Round – 28th pick: Jerry Tillery – DT – Notre Dame
- Second Round – 60th pick: Tre Lamar – LB – Clemson
- Third Round – 91st pick: Michael Deiter – OL – Wisconsin
- First Round – 4th pick
- First Round – 24th pick
- First Round – 27th pick
- Second Round – 35th pick
- Fourth Round – 106th pick
- Fifth Round – 140th pick
- Seventh Round – 218th pick
- Seventh Round – 235th pick
A lot is hinging on what the Raiders do early on in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Raiders pick four times within the first 35 picks, including selecting fourth overall.
After trading away Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper, it was obvious the plan was always to start rebuilding during the 2019 offseason. This plan was thrust into motion when Oakland acquired Antonio Brown from Pittsburgh, parting ways with a third-round and fifth-round pick.
After signing Tyrell “The Gazelle” Williams, Ryan Grant, and J.J. Nelson, it looks like Jon Gruden is content with the skill level in his wide receiver room. However, running back and tight end is another story.
I envision they will address those needs somewhere between the second and fifth rounds, along with the need to beef up the secondary. The Raiders will be hard-pressed to let their first four picks go by without drafting both a cornerback and safety.
A big question that still needs to be answered is if Derek Carr will be the quarterback of this team moving forward, not only during this upcoming season but also when the franchise moves to Sin City in 2020.
Oakland might have interest in Kyler Murray or Dwayne Haskins, but I see the Raiders as an unlikely landing spot for both of those QBs. I think the need to draft a difference maker on defense with their first pick is too blatant.
What the Raiders want is for Kentucky pass rusher Josh Allen to be passed over by the Jets at #3. If Allen is sitting there when the Raiders are on the clock at #4, I imagine it won’t take Mike Mayock very long to make his selection. If Allen isn’t there, perhaps Quinnen Williams (DT, Alabama) is the next man in line.
As a resident of Las Vegas, I’ll be among the many extremely captivated by what Jon Gruden and his staff can accomplish with their first four picks. I’m reluctant to get too amped up, though, as I think it’s only natural for Raider Nation to curb their excitement.
Don’t forget, ladies and gentlemen, that this team won just four games a season ago.
Oakland Raiders First Three Picks (Mock)
- First Round – 4th pick: Josh Allen – EDGE – Kentucky
- First Round – 24th pick: Dexter Lawrence – DT – Clemson
- First Round – 27th pick: Taylor Rapp – Safety – Washington
I don’t want to say the AFC West is completely up for grabs, because I can’t see the Broncos or the Raiders seriously contending in 2019. On the other hand, as good as the Chiefs are, the Chargers have an opportunity to close the gap during the NFL Draft.
Being that Patrick Mahomes is in this division, you better believe that all of the Chiefs AFC West opponents will be keen on drafting defensive backs with top-end speed and good coverage skills. What the Raiders do in the first 35 picks is one of the most intriguing storylines to follow.
My only question to you is this: Are you as enthralled as I am with what the four teams in the AFC West will do when April 25th arrives?
More 2019 NFL Draft Predictions
Predictions for AFC West Teams in the 2019 NFL Draft
Here is my breakdown of what the four teams in the AFC West Division will be trying to achieve during the 2019 NFL Draft.