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Grading the AFC West; and the winner is …

When chasing a team as dominant as the Denver Broncos, the key is to make the most of your opportunities over a sustained period.
The Raiders took another step forward in this year’s NFL draft and closed the gap, if only slightly, by scoring a direct hit on linebacker Khalil Mack in the first round.
If they develop some of their seven other picks into starters, then they can lay claim to having the best draft class among AFC West teams. For now, they get the benefit of doubt based solely on Mack’s potential to be the best player from this draft.
Here’s a team-by-team look at how the four AFC West teams fared, from best to worst:

1. Raiders – It would be hard to go wrong with the No. 5 pick in a draft regarded as one of the deepest and most talented in years. Still, it’s hard to envision things going much better for the Raiders than they did in this draft, at least in the first two rounds. Linebacker Khalil Mack fell in their laps, even though he was regarded by some as the best player in the entire draft. Quarterback Derek Carr lasted until the second round, which enabled the Raiders to take a chance at finding a long-term solution at a position that has been in flux since Rich Gannon retired. General manager Reggie McKenzie also might have found a starting guard in Gabe Jackson. If nothing else, he improved the depth on his roster with his final six selections.

LB Khalil Mack
QB Derek Carr
G Gabe Jackson
DT Justin Ellis
DB Keith McGill
CB Travis Carrie
DE Shelby Harris
S Jonathan Dowling

2. Broncos – The Broncos addressed their two most-glaring needs with their first two picks when they selected cornerback Bradley Roby and wide receiver Cody Latimer. Roby helps offset the loss of veteran Champ Bailey – Aqib Talib was signed to be the immediate starter – and Cody Latimer gives quarterback Peyton Manning another candidate to fill the void created by the departure of Eric Decker. The Broncos grip on the AFC West just got a little bit tighter.

CB Bradley Roby
WR Cody Latimer
OT Michael Schofield
LB Lamin Barrow
C Matt Paradis
LB Corey Nelson

3. Chargers – They went for solid over splash, with every one of their first four selections talented enough to start or make a significant contribution in the short term, if not next season. Verrett is the crown jewel of the bounty, but Attaochu, Watt and Carrethers address immediate needs. Grice and Reese are long-shots to make the 53-man roster.

CB Jason Verrett
LB Jeremiah Attaochu
G Chris Watt
DT Ryan Carrethers
RB Marion Grice
WR Tevin Reese

4. Chiefs – It’s unlikely that the Chiefs reeled in any immediate help from this draft class, with the possible exception of De’Anthony Thomas as a replacement for departed free agent Dexter McCluster. Ford likely will be a situational pass rusher on one of the league’s most talented defenses. Gaines is a bit of stretch in the third round. Great move by the Chiefs to gamble on a potential replacement for quarterback Alex Smith with Aaron Murray in the fifth round.

DE Dee Ford
CB Phillip Gaines
RB De’Anthony Thomas
QB Aaron Murray
G Zach Fulton
OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif

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Steve Corkran

  • IAmAlwaysWrong

    this blog = Fast Times at Ridgemont High

  • SnBG

    Let it go dude. They are here to stay. Always have been and always will be.

  • PlunkforHOF

    P-man is my bud. Was trying to comment about Sterling.

  • IAmAlwaysWrong

    cant get “let it go” out of my head, from the movie Frozen. my kids are addicted

  • RaiderDirt

    Inside source (not saying names) told me last night…

    With all the Oline & Dline depth…

    Oline will interchange line players…

    Meaning every week, depends on Opponent & Player practice Dominates …

    There will be be a new starter Manly at OG every week & even After The Half in some game…

    We was kinda DRUNK last night…

    So weigh this as u please..

    One Nation

  • xraided

    well how about the best overall rushing team?
    something like that will be setting up the pass… it’s what reggie is clearly building.

    i don’t see any bell cow in our WR group and reggie doesnt mind…just solid receivers that will move the chains…

    it just tells me we’re going to pound that rock to wind the clock down while our defense stays fresh all game long. most importantly, it grinds the opposing defense down to jelly by the 4th quarter

  • PatrickBateman

    fine with that as long as they can stay relatively healthy

  • SnBG

    Man I can’t believe what I’m reading these days. Raiders have been given A’s on their draft this year by several sites. It’s become a very bizzaro world. Am I in the right dimension or in some strange parallel universe.

  • xraided

    it’s called platooning lineman, like on a goal line push… we did it with DMC when he was actually considered a top flight RB. we’re getting back to it now

    BEST PART? we’ve completely distanced ourselves from that pure ZBS scheme BS.

  • https://twitter.com/MimiPeepeechimi Just Fire Baby

    #1 rushing offense was Philly, #2 the Bills.

  • Dan Walker

    A big question is, who does Shaub become with a power running game (assuming that is who we become)? If we slam it down teams throats, will he be a better QB because of it? Will teams stack the the box and therefore leave the secondary exposed? Will screen passes totally open up? Don’t know the Texans run stats but will Shaub become a better QB because the scenario is different? This is why saying he was this or that last year and/or any other year makes little difference overall and is basically a waste of time.

  • RaiderDirt

    True, Raiders haven’t announced anything as of yet

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    The haters will be back soon claiming that the national media hates us so they’re lying and giving us good grades or something.

  • https://twitter.com/MimiPeepeechimi Just Fire Baby

    #1 thing that helps an O-line is continuity.

  • xraided

    i can’t wait to see Mack in hot pursuit of Wilson and Krapperstick… he can track them down…he’s faster than they are and much more powerful

  • IAmAlwaysWrong

    completely different system, but Schaub had excellent RB’s in Houston – Foster & Tate

  • xraided

    is your wife’s name smeagle?

  • R8erEduc8er

    We’re not going to outgun Peyton and Rivers in the passing game so it’s best to rush the ball and play good defense. Seahawks laid the blueprint to beating the Mannings and RM is trying to replicate it….try.

  • xraided

    complete dud about after mid way through the season… it actually probably started in week 6

  • SnBG

    My wife agrees with you.

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    Even during the Knapp/Pollack season, we were never complete ZBS. We ran lots of angle-blocking plays that year.

  • R8erEduc8er

    Agreed. Outside of Tuck, most of the defensive players fit the 3-4 better imo.

  • SnBG

    One thing about Schaub is that he is a very good medium range passer. The majority of passes in the NFL are of that kind. He will do well. I could see him playing more WCO than anything. Maybe with our Oline this year we will get the ball to Reece and DMC more also.

  • xraided

    true i do remember that…but it was still hot garbage. with the sheer size of this OL, it’s clear we’re sticking with power all the way. smart decision

  • RaiderDirt

    Glad of that ZBS sucked

  • https://twitter.com/MimiPeepeechimi Just Fire Baby

    Last two Super Bowl winning teams were ZBS teams.
    It isn’t the scheme.

  • https://twitter.com/MimiPeepeechimi Just Fire Baby

    You don’t like the way Seattle runs the football?

  • RaiderDirt

    I think that’s the point to keep an healthy line man , and so they could stay true to to that NEXT MAN UP thing

  • SnBG

    Same with Cable and Hue.

  • Try Some Reality

    …all except for KansasCity.com, but then we’d expect that wouldn’t we?

  • Sir Raider Duck, OMS

    It’s not the scheme, it’s the teacher. And Frank Pollack was a terrible teacher.

  • R8erEduc8er

    If you don’t wanna piss on it (I’ve never heard of that one before), you’ll just have to wait it out. Takes a while but eventually as the toe nail grows, the fungus grows out with it.

  • xraided

    then i’m praying that D-Mo gets back to it with that deep threat ability. remember, Palmer is the one that audible’d in to deep patterns for Moore that got him completely open.

    having an experienced QB again will help him realize his true potential again… that nightmare slot match up.

  • xraided

    it means reggie has arrived…that will be all sir

  • SnBG

    This is true.

  • PlunkforHOF

    Love this idea.

  • xraided

    they had a stellar draft as well. hated the Ford pick… guy can get at the QB…we better have a good pass blocking RB in this group…. ah yes it looks like MJD by a mile!

  • SnBG

    I can see that much more with the D and all of the sub packages Tarver will use. The days of the 3 down Dlineman are diminishing.

  • PlunkforHOF

    lmao

  • RaiderDirt

    There field is not as lousy as ours is, for two months, eight games a year…

    Straight forward blocking only on our field, that side to side crap cause slippage on sand..lol

  • xraided

    we will be hated alright, because we have attitude now

    hey, liking Cofield Jr btw, good call. he listed at 238 and can stand to gain about 15-20lbs before sliding to ILB… love the instincts though…was his HS competition that bad though?

  • mikeschoice

    teams don’t use 3-4 4-3 anymore – I don’t know what games you’ve been watching its multiple with guys all over the place from down to down trying to confuse O

  • RaiderDirt

    Its the field

  • SnBG

    I don’t know if we really appreciate what Mack will do for the D. He will open up the scheming by Tarver. Tarver will be able to play 4-3 under, 3-4 and various different subs that will use Roach and Burnett to their strengths. We now also have depth at DT and can bring different DT’s in depending on the down and situation also using their strengths.

  • xraided

    well that’s what he’s saying…with less balls thrown…there will be less mistakes(pick 6′s) … just drain the clock while keeping our D fresh and tiring their’s…and we will keep games very close.

  • AutumnThunderstorm

    Plus multiple elite talent

    collectively we were good

    last year

    hunter walker sims houston
    sio roach burnett
    jenkins ross woodson porter

    this Season (projected)

    Tuck Smith Sims Woodley
    Sio Roach Mack
    Hayden Branch Woodson Brown

  • xraided

    an overwhelming defense and a smash mouth running game will net us a lot of good wins this year fellas

  • SnBG

    Good point. Schaub is a very good play action QB also and if we can get that run game going I could see Moore getting his deep balls also.

  • RaiderDirt

    Activate them all!!!

  • Try Some Reality

    And Buffalo paired it with a top 10 defense. Still only good for 6-10.

    Oh, how the times have changed.