AFC WEST DRAFT GRADES
We finish up our AFC NFL Draft judgmental journey in the AFC West. Only two teams in this conference even had first round picks. The other two decided to go full Los Angeles Rams, “Eff them picks,” and build teams that could win today while ignoring what they could possibly acquire for tomorrow.
As always, we have two ground rules;
1. It’s not possible to receive an “A” grade without a first round pick. While I can recognize and predict a draft steal as much as the next regularly wrong prognosticator, no guy taken in the fourth can boost you into the front row of the graduating class.
2. The Draft Grade is based on this draft, today, and the men these franchises add to their rosters. It’s not based on my imagination of what each dude might turn into. I will not factor in a “ceiling,” because that does not exist any more than the chance one of these guys will be bitten by a radioactive spider. Their college performances for and against actual NCAA football teams, is what I use to determine my final scores.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Selections: No. 17: Zion Johnson, OL, Boston College — No. 79: JT Woods, Safety, Baylor — No. 123: Isaiah Spiller, RB. Texas A&M — No. 160: Otito Ogbonnia, DT, UCLA — No. 195: Jamaree Salyer, OL, Georgia — No. 214: Ja’Sir Taylor, DB, Wake Forest — No. 236: Deane Leonard, DB, Mississippi — No. 260: Zander Horvath, FB, Purdue
Los Angeles only had two players selected in the first three rounds, but probably nailed them both. Zion Johnson was Pro Football Focus’ No. 2 ranked interior offensive lineman in this class. Woods had elite production at Baylor and was a ball hawk, picking off five passes and returning one for a touchdown. And he did it all against a Big 12 schedule.
Later in the draft, Spiller is probably a bigger version of Austin Ekeler. They rounded out the draft the way I like to see, by focusing on productive players from big schools in Power Five conferences.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Selections: No. 21: Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington — No. 30: George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue — No. 54: Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan — No 62: Bryan Cook, Safety, Cincinnati — No. 103: Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin — No. 135: Joshua Williams, CB, Fayetteville State University — No. 145: Darian Kinnard, OG, Kentucky — No. 243: Jaylen Watson, CB, Washington State — No. 251: Isiah Pcheco, RB, Rutgers — No. 259: Nazeeh Johnson, CB, Marshall
For a team with five picks in the first three rounds, the Chiefs sure found a way to crap the bed. McDuffie finished his senior season with more sacks than interceptions and he only had one sack. And it’s not like he had some elite number of pass break ups. He just posted six. Maybe he was a good exerciser at the NFL combine, but a first rounder?
Kansas City’s second first rounder was just as bad, taking “edge rusher” Karlaftis who didn’t seem like he was that effective as an “edge rusher” for Purdue. Against a Big Ten schedule, Karlaftis managed just 4.5 sacks in a full season of games. You might think, like McDuffie, that there were probably a lot of other impressive stats outside of the most obvious. Nope. The dude had 10 total tackles for a loss. To put that pathetic number in perspective, Alabama’s Will Anderson Jr. had 34.5 TFL. Nik Bonitto, taken at 64 by the Broncos (who did not have a first round pick) had 15 for a loss.
Skyy Moore is probably an NFL receiver, but I find it hard to believe he’ll replace Tyreek Hill in year one. Cook is probably a fine safety, but again, is he Tyrann Mathieu? At least he had two whole interceptions, which is twice as many as McDuffie. This team did not get better in the draft and they had four tries in the first two rounds to do it.
Selections: No. 64: Nik Bonitto, Edge, Oklahoma — No. 80: Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA — No. 115: Damarri Mathis, CB, Pittsburgh — No. 116: Eyioma Uwazurike, DT, Iowa State — No: 152: Delarrin Turner-Yell, Safety, Oklahoma — Mo. 162: Montrell Washington, WR, Samford — No. 171: Luke Wattenberg, Center, Washington — No. 206: Matt Henningsen, DT, Wisconsin — No. 232: Faion Hicks, CB, Wisconsin
After acquiring Russell Wilson in a trade, the Broncos didn’t have a lot of holes on their roster or the picks to address them if they did. Because of that, they just rolled with their board and, frankly, didn’t do too bad. Bonitto, as I mentioned above, was a solidly productive linebacker who can rush off the edge. Dulcich had a monster season at UCLA, though he might not be the ideal size for an elite tight end.
I don’t see any steals here in the later rounds, but bodies to develop and add some depth. Washington, out of Samford, is the only small school guy, but he was productive for the Bulldogs in spite of playing two full seasons in spring and fall in 2021.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Selections: No. 90: Dylan Parham, OG, Memphis — No. 122: Zamir White, RB, Georgia — No. 126: Neil Farrell, DT, LSU — No. 175: Matthew Butler, DT, Tennessee — No. 238: Thayer Munford, Jr., OT, Ohio State — No. 250: Brittain Brown, RB, UCLA
I can see taking a running back like Zamir White if you’re the Raiders. What I can’t understand, considering the lack of picks they took to the podium in the draft, is taking two. Sure, Josh Jacobs is heading into his final season with the team, but that was hardly a position of need with Kenyon Drake already backing up the former first round pick.
Parham pretty much makes their whole draft, taking a guy that good that late. PFF ranked him their fourth best interior offensive lineman coming out this season. I do appreciate focusing on big conference guys with the rest of their picks, not taking any chances. In that respect, at least, this new Vegas regime led by Dave Zeigler and Josh McDaniels has already blown past the freakshow draft strategies of Mike Mayock and Jon Gruden.
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