2014 NFL Draft Grades: AFC West

AFC-West-logoDenver Broncos

The First Pick: The Broncos took cornerback Bradley Roby from The Ohio State University with their first pick. This selection makes a ton of sense for the Broncos, whose secondary was atrocious last season. Bradley Roby will line up on the opposite side free agent signee Aquib Talib making the Broncos secondary much improved.

The Question: Did the Broncos do enough along the offensive line to help protect Peyton Manning? Ryan Clady and Dan Koppen will be coming back this season but the loss of Zane Beadles to an already depleted offensive line created a huge need for Denver. Michael Schofield and Matthew Paradis will need to provide value this season. Otherwise the Broncos will be eaten alive by defenses with a talented pass rush.

The Steal: Cody Latimer was a darling for many draftniks around the interwebs. He is going to have the opportunity to learn from talented receivers, gain experience and have one of the best quarterbacks in NFL history throwing him the ball.

The Reach: The Broncos avoided reaching with their picks. They added two borderline first round picks with first two selections. The rest of their selections went about where they should have gone.

The Rest: Lamin Barrow should play as a rotation guy this season at linebacker. Cory Nelson is a 7th rounder that can make the team but will need to play special teams.

The Grade: The Broncos did a solid job all around. They definitely addressed needs, with the selection of Latimer being the exception. Latimer is however a weapon Peyton Manning can utilize which if great in the short term with long term potential. He was also great value when they selected. B

 

San Diego Chargers

The First Pick: The Chargers selected Jason Verrett with their first pick. While Verrett is undersized, he poses all the skills to be a talented corner in the NFL.

The Question: Will the Chargers let  Jeremiah Attaochu be the freak pass rusher he is? San Diego needs to let Attaochu line up on the edge, pin his ears back and go get himself the quarterback. If they do, he has the potential to make a ton of noise this season and be an impact edge rusher.

The Reach: The Chargers took Chris Watt and Ryan Carrethers in round 3 and 4 and while individually they are not reaches, the Chargers failed to grab wide receiver help until round 7 to play opposite Keenan Allen. This years draft was one of the deepest drafts for receivers in long time.

The Steal: A Regan Yant favorite, Marion Grice was the steal of the Chargers draft class. Grice is a dynamic weapon out of the backfield that can provide much of the same value Darren Sproles offered only Grice is larger at 6 feet and 200 pounds. While he may not provide value early in the season, his versatility could have him on the field sooner than some might expect.

The Rest: Chris Watt can play guard quickly for the Chargers. Nose tackle, Ryan Carrathers adds depth to their defensive line.At 336 pounds he ran a 5.34 40, which is impressive for his size. Tevin Reese will help the receiving core and should contribute on special teams.

The Grade: I love the first two picks for the Chargers but the selections became head scratchers after that. They added talent but avoided addressing needs to a playoff team last season. C-

 

Kansas City Chiefs

The First Pick: Dee Ford  was the Chiefs first selection. Ford is a talented edge rusher that should impact the Chiefs right away. Last season the defense fell apart when ends Tamba Hali and Justin Houston went down. Ford will add depth to the pass rush.

The Question: Can DeAnthony Thomas provide value this season? Dexter McCluster left via free agency to the Tennessee Titans this off season. Thomas could play a similar role lining up all over the field and utilizing his speed to make plays. He could add another weapon for Alex Smith to utilize.

The Reach: Aaron Murray is a reach in the sense that Chiefs didnt have a glaring need behind Alex Smith. They paid Chase Daniel a lot of money to be thier a back-up quarterback. They also have Tyler Bray on their roster who is not the next coming of Joe Montana but has developmental upside. The assumption is Bray moves on and Murray becomes the developmental project. If the Chiefs believe Murray could be their starter in 3 years its not a bad pick.

The Steal: Laurent Devernay-Tardiff has the potential to be a steal for the Chiefs in the back of the 6th round. If he can start games for them its a great pick. While he did not attend the combine, he put good numbers at his pro day and was comparable to Taylor Lewan who put up some of the best numbers of the offensive lineman.

The Rest: Phillip Gaines was taken in the third round. The Chiefs were without a second round pick. Gaines measures out well but could take some time to develop. They also took Zach Fulton, Guard from Tennessee.

The Grade: The Chiefs took to many project type prospects in my opinion. If a good majority of them pan out i may be singing a different tune but for a playoff contender they could have added impact talent.  D

 

Oakland Raiders

The First Pick: Khalil Mack was a great pick by Reggie McKenzie and the Oakland Raiders. Mack has the potential be a game changer and leader at linebacker. Not only is he high on the selections for defensive rookie of the year, but he has the tools to be an elite linebacker both off of the edge and inside.

The Question: Can Derek Carr be the answer under center for the Raiders? Derek Carr may be the this drafts most hotly debated prospect. The range of outcomes is all over the board. Carr will get a shot at being the guy and gets to play close to home. I think Carr has the arm to be a legit NFL quarterback. His decision making will be key. If he can learn to  read NFL defenses the Raiders may have their quarterback for the next 10 years.

The Reach: The Raiders avoided their annual tradition of reaching for draft picks.This is definitely a new era in Oakland Raider football.

The Steal: Keith McGill is a great value in the 4th rounder. McGill is a big, physical corner that has a chance to be an instant impact player. While DJ Hayden may have been a reach last year, McGill on the opposite could lock down the Raider corner slots going forward. They will fight for playing time with newly acquired Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown.

The Rest: Guard Gabe Jackson was a good pick from Mississippi State and will have a chance to play right away. Justin Ellis, another good football player, should be able to improve a Raider defensive line that was full of holes. They also took Travis Carrie, Shelby Harris and Jonathan Dowling who will try and make the team.

The Grade: The Raiders had one of my favorite drafts. They not only addressed needs but added talent on both sides of the ball. Khalil Mack could be an elite defender who makes many pro bowls and is on the short list of best defensive players in the NFL. A

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