NFL Draft Grades: AFC West

To finally finish up these Draft Grades, we review the AFC West. The Broncos have long been the kings of this division, and in Peyton’s final hurrah, I’d expect this same in 2015-2016. However the Chargers and Chiefs are coming. Even the Raiders are making some smart moves. Let’s see how they did:


Denver Broncos: 12-4 in 2015, 23rd Overall

Round 1 Pick 23                 Shane Ray                           DE           Missouri

In March Shane Ray could have gone as high as #3 and not too many people would have been real surprised about it, however his toe injury and him being a middling athlete pushed him down. And then he got busted with pot the week of the NFL Draft. Bad Colorado marijuana jokes aside, this was a nice pick for Denver. This is probably the right range for Ray, and he’ll be their 3rd rusher, which is probably the right role for him to start with. He’ll spell DeMarcus Ware when he needs a break, and will be a sub package rusher. Grade: B

Round 2 Pick 59                 Ty Sambrailo                      OL          Colorado State

With the losses to Denver’s Offensive Line this offseason, I expected them to address the position. Sambrailo will play Guard in Denver, and he has a chance to play right away. He had some 1st round hype during the season, but the voice of reason subsided and this is probably the right range for him. This pick made sense, and the Broncos like drafting local kids. Grade: C+

Round 3 Pick 92                 Jeff Heuerman                  TE           Ohio State

Peyton Manning has a history of making Tight Ends, and unfortunately Heuerman is out for the year already, but I think he would have had a chance to be next in line. He played hurt most of the 2014-2015 season, but was still a solid blocker, but he could have some nice pass catching potential. Hopefully his rehab goes well. Grade: B

Round 4 Pick 133              Max Garcia                         OC          Florida

Again, more Offensive Line help in the interior. Anyone who’s had success bothering Peyton Manning has had pressure right up the middle, so it has to be a priority to protect up the gut of the Offensive Line. Garcia is a nice value here and I liked him a bit throughout the process. Grade: B

Round 5 Pick 164              Lorenzo Doss                     CB           Tulane

Last season the Broncos lost to the Colts basically due to their inability to stop Andrew Luck, so why not try to add more help to stop Andrew Luck. Doss had some buzz surround him throughout the process, and although he won’t push for playing time immediately, he’ll add solid depth to the secondary. Grade: B-

Round 6 Pick 203              Darius Kilgo                         DL           Maryland

Kilgo is a big body to put in the middle of the Defensive Line, and with the Redskins grabbing Terrence Knighton from Denver, there’s a big absence in the middle. Kilgo can help step in and bridge the gap here. Kilgo is a better athlete than you’d expect with his size. Grade: B+

Round 7 Pick 250              Trevor Siemian                  QB          Northwestern

I was honestly shocked that Siemian was drafted. To be completely honest, Siemian only was a full-time starter for one year. I doubt he makes the roster, or even sticks on another. It’s the 7th round, but there were multiple undraftable Quarterbacks I had above Siemian. Grade: D

Round 7 Pick 251              Taurean Nixon                  CB           Tulane

More help for the secondary, and they grab Lorenzo Doss’ teammate from Tulane. Other than that, I know nothing about Nixon, but the more they can add to the secondary, the better they should be. Grade: C

Round 7 Pick 252              Josh Furman                      LB           Oklahoma State

Furman will likely only be a Special Teamer if he makes the roster, which I don’t see as very likely. I’m pretty disappointed overall how Denver handled these three consecutive 7th round picks. Grade: C-

Overall Grade: C+. I don’t feel like Denver really got as much help as they could have for Peyton’s swan song. Shane Ray and Sambrailo and maybe Garcia could contribute immediately, but the rest of the class is a while from contributing. I think they could have given Peyton more help, bottom line.


Kansas City Chiefs: 9-7 in 2015, 18th Overall

Round 1 Pick 18                 Marcus Peters                   CB           Washington

Marcus Peters should have definitely been selected before this, but his potential character concerns push him down to number 18. The Chiefs never really recovered from losing Brandon Flowers last offseason, and with the unfortunate health issues that Eric Berry has had, Kansas City’s secondary needed an injection of youth and talent, and Peters fills both needs. He and Sean Smith will make a nice Cornerback pairing. Grade: A-

Round 2 Pick 49                 Michael Morse                  OC          Missouri

This was probably too high for Michael Morse, who will be moving from Tackle to Center. Andy Reid loves his Offensive Linemen, and Morse is a coaches’ dream. He had decent movement skills but lacks the girth to play Guard and lacks the length to play Tackle, and is smart enough to play Center. Grade: C+

Round 3 Pick 76                 Chris Conley                       WR         Georgia

Chris Conley is pretty athletic, and showed that at the Combine. He ran a 4.3 and had nice jumps. He never had great production, but for Conley’s prime years, Hutson Mason limited his potential by not being able to push the ball down the field. I think this is a bit high for Conley, but the Chiefs could definitely use the Wide Receiver help. Grade: C+

Round 3 Pick 98                 Steven Nelson                  CB           Oregon State

This pick on the other hand I really like. Steven Nelson is more help for that secondary that has to stop Peyton Manning and Phillip Rivers. Nelson is a but undersized, but he’s ultra pesky and could be an above average slot Cornerback. This was a nice value for Nelson. Grade: B+

Round 4 Pick 118              Ramik Wilson                     LB           Georgia

The Chiefs experienced life without Derrick Johnson last year, and I think they realized that they don’t want to experience it any sooner than they’ll have to, but Ramik Wilson will provide some nice depth for the Chiefs. This was probably the right range for Wilson. Grade: B

Round 5 Pick 172              D.J. Alexander                   LB           Oregon State

To be completely honest with you, I hadn’t heard of D.J. Alexander before the draft, but he provides depth and competition at Inside Linebacker. The Chiefs don’t have a lot of help behind Johnson so they need some help here. Grade: C

Round 5 Pick 173              James O’Shaughnessy   TE           Illinois State

Andy Reid loves Tight Ends, so I can imagine he had a say in this pick. Again, I had no idea who James O’Shaughnessy was, but he’ll help cushion the blow of losing Anthony Fasano. This is probably a bit of a reach. Grade: C

Round 6 Pick 217              Rakeem Nunez-Roches DL           Southern Mississippi

I really like this pick, and this isn’t a reach. Nunez-Roches will play 5 Technique in their 3-4 Scheme. He’s a bit of a penetrator, kind of like Mike Daniels in Green Bay. This was a nice value, as he could have probably gone int he 4th or 5th rounds. Grade: B

Round 7 Pick 233              Da’Ron Brown                   WR         Northern Illinois

Da’Ron Brown is going to play in the slot for the Chiefs, who can use all of the receiver help that they can get. Brown can also help in Special Teams. This is a nice value for the former Husky. Grade: C+

Overall Grade: B. The Chiefs draft is not flashy, but they get two contributors at Corner, and some receiver help. They also get a Center to help replace Rodney Hudson, who left for the Raiders. I think the Chiefs will push the Broncos, but still ultimately finish 2nd fiddle to Peyton.


Oakland Raiders: 3-13 in 2015, 4th Overall

Round 1 Pick 4                   Amari Cooper                    WR         Alabama

This pick is all about helping Derek Carr. They could have selected Leonard Williams, the local product who had made it known he’d like to play for Oakland, but they opted to go with the Heisman candidate from Alabama. Amari Cooper is a very pro-ready Wide Receiver, being the #1 option for the Crimson Tide for the past three seasons. He can play outside in the NFL, but he’ll be most effective lining up in the slot, where he should be nearly uncoverable. Cooper will be huge for Carr’s development, and at only 20 years old, he’s a remarkable prospect. Grade: A

Round 2 Pick 35                 Mario Edwards Jr.            DE           Florida State

I was so excited for the Raiders with this pick. Randy Gregory had fallen to them, and in Ken Norton’s defense, very likely to resemble Seattle’s, this pick was likely going to be a LEO position pick. They could have had Gregory, Preston Smith, Eli Harold, or a few others, but they selected Mario Edwards. I don’t know how he fits this position, as we’ve never seen him play at 280, but I just think that they could have gotten a better value here. I’m not questioning the talent, rather the fit. Grade: C

Round 3 Pick 68                 Clive Walford                     TE           Miami (FL)

More help for Carr. Walford was far and away the second ranked Tight End in this class behind Maxx Williams. This is a nice value to get him in the beginning of the 3rd round, and should start immediately. He’s an athletic Tight End who can play in-line, as well as a move Tight End. This is a safety blanket for Carr, who is still in the crucial development time period. Grade: A-

Round 4 Pick 128              Jon Feliciano                      OG         Miami (FL)

A former walk-on at Miami, Feliciano was a dependable blocker for the Canes. I think this may have been a bit early for Feliciano, but the more you can help the run game and protect Derek Carr, I’m not going to punish them for that. He should push for playing time early. Grade: C+

Round 5 Pick 140              Ben Heeney                       LB           Kansas

Before I mentioned Ken Norton Jr. being the new Defensive Coordinator for the Raiders, and using Seattle’s scheme. The scheme is very dependent on Linebackers being athletic and running around and making plays. All three of these next picks exemplify that. Heeney will likely play a Will position, as he struggles engaging blockers, but his instincts and athleticism allow him to get to the ball carrier in a high volume. I liked this pick a lot. Grade: B

Round 5 Pick 161              Neiron Ball                          LB           Florida

Injuries were Ball’s worst enemy at Florida, but he’s another ultra athletic Linebacker for the Silver and Black. He’ll likely play in the Middle, a role fairly similar to Bobby Wagner’s. He’ll play in short zones and attack the line of scrimmage, where he’s most comfortable. Grade: B-

Round 6 Pick 179              Max Valles                          LB           Virginia

Max Valles left as a redshirt Sophomore, and should’ve stayed, but this is a nice spot for him to land. He’s a better talent than this, and is a nice athlete for a 6’5″ 245 pound Linebacker. He will probably play the Sam Linebacker position, however he could also be tried out at LEO. Grade: B+

Round 7 Pick 218              Anthony Morris                 OT          Tennessee State

To be honest with you I  have no information on Anthony Morris, but he’s listed as a Tackle and could be a developmental pick who could eventually protect Carr. The 7th round is usually where these picks occur, as it’s low risk and high reward. Grade: C

Round 7 Pick 221              Andre Dubose                   WR         Florida

Dubose was a very highly touted recruit coming out of High School, and due to injuries among other things, he just never completely lived up to his billing in Gainesville. He’ll be a returner for the Raiders first and foremost, and if he can stick there he could become an NFL receiver. I doubt he makes the roster, but it’s worth taking a flier on a kid this talented. Grade: B-

Round 7 Pick 242              Dexter McDonald            CB           Kansas

This is a nice value pick here, as McDonald could have gone a round or two earlier than this. He’ll help the Raiders in the secondary and learn from Charles Woodson, who is somehow still remarkably playing at a high level. I like this pick in the mid 7th round. Grade:  B

Overall Grade: B+. I really like what the Raiders did. They knew where they lacked talent and attacked it. Cooper will be a stud immediately. Hopefully Mario Edwards proves me wrong and performs well for his draft slot. Walford will contribute immediately, as will the three Linebackers, if in no other capacity than in Special Teams. I liked this class quite a bit.


San Diego Chargers: 9-7 in 2015, 15th Overall

Round 1 Pick 15                 Melvin Gordon                 RB           Wisconsin

I think the Chargers feared that the Texans were eyeing up the former Badger, and jumped them with the 49ers for the 15th pick. The Chargers leading rusher a year ago was Brandon Oliver, a former undrafted runner. He performed well to his credit, but Melvin Gordon is at another level talent and skill wise. Gordon, who I was higher on than most, I expect to immediately be a featured and homerun hitter back. He’s a mix between Jamaal Charles acceleration and explosiveness, and DeMarco Murray’s upright running style. I expect him to be the second best back in this division on Day 1. Grade: A-

Round 2 Pick 48                 Denzel Perryman             LB           Miami (FL)

The Chargers are making it a habit of taking the fan favorite but not necessarily going to be as good in the NFL as in college Linebackers. Perryman will pair inside with Manti Te’o. This is a nice value for Perryman, as he was thought of by some to be a potential 1st rounder. I think he’s a two down Linebacker in the NFL, but should be a solid player. This is a much better value for him, as I didn’t want any part of him in the 1st round. Grade: B

Round 3 Pick 83                 Craig Mager                        CB           Texas State

I’ve said this before in this article, in a division with Peyton Manning, you need all the secondary help you can get. Mager was a nice prospect out of Texas State, and I know a lot of people on Draft Twitter liked him a considerable amount. He’ll likely play on the outside, as they drafted Jason Verrett to play the slot a year ago. However, in four wide formations I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mager play inside. Grade: B

Round 5 Pick 153              Kyle Emanuel                     LB           North Dakota State

I liked this pick quite a bit. Emanuel is an Outside Linebacker form NDSU, and plays with a motor that doesn’t quit. He lead the FCS in sacks a year ago, and while it’s unlikely that he continues that in the NFL, he’ll be a solid depth guy who plays well on Special Teams. His short arms, (31 inches) will be his biggest detriment rushing the passer in the NFL. Grade: B

Round 6 Pick 192              Darius Philon                      DL           Arkansas

Darius Philon is another kid who shouldn’t have entered early, but this is a nice place for him to go. He’s a penetrating 3 technique, and it’s becoming obvious that teams that normally run a 3-4 are taking guys like this to be a disruptor rather than just a scheme fit. This is a nice value for Philon, who couldn’t have gone in the 4th or 5th. Grade: B-

Overall Grade: B. The Chargers had the least amount of picks in the league, but they made them count. I wouldn’t be surprised to see all five of these picks making contributions within two years. I expect Gordon to be in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year. I liked this class quite a bit, despite the small sample size.

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Adams-Friendship Green Devil and Carroll University Pioneer for life. Aspiring to be great. @RieseDraft

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