2021 NFL Draft Grades: AFC West

A lot of eyes are on the AFC West right now, with the Chargers having one of the best drafts of any of the teams. Oh, the Aaron Rodgers to Denver rumors has also continued to stick around after the draft. Kansas City didn’t have a Day 1 pick, but they continued to make smart decisions on Day 2 and 3. As for Las Vegas, the definition of draft value still remains a mystery for them. Overall, we will be seeing some big named prospects in the AFC West for years to come.

Denver BroncosDenver Broncos: A

1 (9): CB Patrick Surtain II, Alabama
2 (35): RB Javonte Williams, North Carolina
3 (98): C Quinn Meinerz, Wisconsin-Whitewater
3 (105): LB Baron Browning, Ohio State
5 (152): S Caden Sterns, Texas
5 (164): S Jamar Johnson, Indiana
6 (219): WR Seth Williams, Auburn
7 (237): CB Kary Vincent Jr., LSU
7 (239): EDGE Jonathon Cooper, Ohio State
7 (253): EDGE Marquiss Spencer, Mississippi State

Once you get past the chance of taking Justin Fields, the Broncos had a very solid draft. I am not a believer in Drew Lock, and Teddy Bridgewater coming over doesn’t get this team to another level either. Of course, Aaron Rodgers joining would be a different story. Instead of taking Fields, Denver opted to go with Patrick Surtain. Denver did bulk up their corners in the short-term but drafted their long-term corner here. Surtain is pro-ready and doesn’t have a major weakness in his game. Now the Broncos did end up trading up, but not for who we thought. After two first-round running backs went off the board, Denver traded up with Atlanta to grab Javonte Williams. The former Tar Heel has featured back written all over him once Melvin Gordan gets out of the way. Gordon will be a free agent after the season ends.

The Day 2 names might not stand out to most, but Quinn Meinerz is a lineman who can play guard and center. He was widely praised by scouts but not taken higher due to him being a DIII prospect. Meinerz has some room to grow with his footwork, but he is a true talent that will be in the NFL for a long time. Denver is a team that can take Baron Browning under their wing and turn him into a frightening pass-rusher. Jamar Johnson isn’t a sure tackler, but he sure does do everything else well and is expected to go two rounds higher. Great value for the Broncos, who are looking to beef up the secondary just as they have done in prior years.

Kansas City ChiefsKansas City Chiefs: B+

2 (58): LB Nick Bolton, Missouri
2 (63): C Creed Humphrey, Oklahoma
4 (144): Edge Joshua Kaindoh, Florida State
5 (162): TE Noah Gray, Duke
5 (181): WR Cornell Powell, Clemson
6 (226): G Trey Smith, Tennessee

The Chiefs turned their Day 1 pick into Orlando Brown, a guard from the Baltimore Ravens. Overhauling the offensive line was in need this offseason, and they did a lot of it before the draft. They furthered their offensive line overhaul by taking Creed Humphrey in the second round. Humphrey is set to be a plug-and-play type option early on but will be a starting center when the time comes in Kansas City. Humphrey also has experience at both guard positions. This wasn’t a huge linebacker class, and a few went off the board before Nick Bolton. However, he has a great understanding of the game and should help a Chiefs run defense that has been pretty poor over the last few seasons.

The Day 3 picks will have a chance to grow under a very good organization. Cornell Powell is a name to at least keep an eye on as he is a physical wideout, which offsets a lot of the Chiefs speedy receivers. Smith had health issues, which was why the stock dropped. He was a former five-star recruit and will get to learn under excellent names.

Oakland RaidersLas Vegas Raiders: C-

1 (17): OT Alex Leatherwood, Alabama
2 (43): S Trevon Moehrig, TCU
3 (79): EDGE Malcolm Koonce, Buffalo
3 (80): S Divine Deablo, Virginia Tech
4 (143): S Tyree Gillespie, Missouri
5 (167): CB Nate Hobbs, Illinois
7 (130): C Jimmy Morrissey, Pittsburgh

Now I don’t have an issue with the exact players the Raiders drafted. I have an issue with where they were drafted. Outside of Trevon Moehrig, who slipped out of the first round where he was projected to go, there were a lot of reaches here. I really like Alex Leatherwood but taking him at 17 and over Christian Darrisaw is tough. If the Raiders were that in on Leatherwood, trading back would have been a wiser move. They did make up some of that value with Trevon Moehrig in Round 2. He went behind Richie Grant and Jevon Holland, which was a surprise. He is a playmaker who has great instincts and quickness. The Raiders have been trying to search for franchise defensive backs but have been missing more often than not.

Once again, the Raiders take someone far higher than they should be going and especially for an even deeper project player at the EDGE position. Malcolm Koonce does have athleticism but will need time to adjust to the NFL. Divine Deablo is somewhat of an in-betweener despite being labeled as a safety. Deablo is going to have to bank on the Raiders using him correctly and putting him in spots to succeed. My trust in this organization is not high. With names like Ronnie Perkins, Jamar Johnson, Elijah Molden, Ifeatu Melifonwu, and Patrick Jones still on the board, these two picks could have been used better.

Los Angeles ChargersLos Angeles Chargers: A

1 (13): T Rashawn Slater, Northwestern
2 (47): CB Asante Samuel Jr., Florida State
3 (77): WR Josh Palmer, Tennessee
3 (97): TE Tre’ McKitty, Georgia
4 (118): EDGE Chris Rumph II, Duke
5 (159): OT Brenden Jaimes, Nebraska
6: (185): LB Nick Niemann, Iowa
6 (198): RB Larry Rountree III, Missouri
7 (241): CB Mark Webb, Georgia

There was a lot of wheeling and dealing around the Chargers 13th pick, but they stood pat and got their guy. Rashawn Slater was a popular name to mock to the Chargers as they needed to add a future piece to the offensive line. After adding a few names in the offseason, Slater comes in and gives Justin Herbert some much-needed protection. Slater had excellent production at Northwestern to back up his size and athleticism. Asante Samuel Jr. going behind names like Eric Stokes, Tyson Campbell, and Kelvin Joseph is just absurd to me. Samuel has the potential to be a shutdown corner in this league but is going to enter the league as someone who can play both inside and outside roles. This is ridiculous value for Samuel, and the Chargers get another player who will make an impact in Year 1.

Josh Palmer capped their Day 2 and went ahead of a few names that I was surprised at, but Palmer is another weapon for Herbert. Palmer is an above-average route runner, and I don’t care about the lack of production at Tennessee. He should step right into being a WR3 this season. My one issue with the Chargers draft is the Tre’ McKitty pick at 97. It just was not needed, and there were far better options on the board.

Jason Guilbault has been writing and podcasting in the fantasy sports world for over five years. You can find his work at Daily Fantasy Cafe. He is an avid Tottenham fan, and follows the Boston sports teams. When he isn’t diving into stats, he is enjoying the outdoors or down at the local brewery.

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