Published On: Wed, Apr 18th, 2018

Identifying the biggest need for every AFC West team

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theScore goes division by division to identify the biggest positional needs for all 32 NFL teams entering the 2018 draft, which will be held from April 26-28.


Denver Broncos

Biggest need: QB
Secondary needs: RB, G

With the curse of a 5-11 season comes the gift of a premium draft position. Armed with the No. 5 overall pick in the upcoming draft, the Broncos are primed to end their recent string of poor quarterback play.

Though Denver signed Case Keenum on the heels of his Cinderella 2017 season, the contract is only a two-year deal. The Broncos would be wise to use their highly coveted draft slot to find their quarterback of the future.

Since winning Super Bowl 50, the team has finished in the bottom third in passing offense in consecutive seasons. Change is necessary while the defense remains a top-five unit.

Potential draft targets: Ordinarily, the No. 5 pick would be high enough to net the quarterback of a team’s desires. However, the Broncos sit behind three teams who also covet a QB. One of Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen, or Josh Allen could slip to the Broncos, but it’s far more likely that Denver will be matched with defending Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield.

Following the release of C.J. Anderson, the Broncos have a gaping hole in the backfield. With only Devontae Booker and De’Angelo Henderson on the depth chart, the team could select a running back with their 40th overall pick and target the likes of Derrius Guice, Sony Michel, or Nick Chubb.

Kansas City Chiefs

Biggest need: DL
Secondary needs: CB, WR

The Chiefs used their 2018 first-round pick to address their biggest need … last year when they traded the pick for the right to move up and select quarterback-of-the-future Patrick Mahomes. Now the task is surrounding Mahomes with a competitive roster.

Kansas City is loaded at the skill positions – with the likes of Kareem Hunt, Tyreek Hill, Sammy Watkins, and Travis Kelce – but the defense could use work.

The Chiefs finished 28th in total defense and infamously gave up 19 unanswered points in a playoff loss to the Titans. After the departures of Dontari Poe, Derrick Johnson, and Tamba Hali, reinforcements are needed.

Potential draft targets: In need of upgrades across the defensive line, Kansas City should approach its first pick – the 54th overall selection – with the intention of taking the best talent available. If Arden Key of LSU is available, he should be the target. A hybrid pass-rusher, Key could immediately improve the Chiefs’ ability to get to the quarterback; they finished tied for 24th in sacks last season.

The trade of Marcus Peters leaves a hole in the secondary, even after the acquisition of Kendall Fuller. The Chiefs could also look to add to a receiver room that remains bare even after coming to terms with Sammy Watkins.

Los Angeles Chargers

Biggest need: DT
Secondary needs: LB, S, QB

The Chargers fell just short of a playoff berth in 2017. While they ranked fourth in total offense, first in passing offense, and third in passing defense, it was the running game that held them back.

For all the defense’s strengths, the unit finished second last in stopping the run. While Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram wreaked havoc on the outside, the opposition exploited holes on the inside of the defensive line.

Potential draft targets: One of the plug-and-play interior defenders will fall to them at No. 17. Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea is the popular choice at the position. At 6-foot-4, 347 pounds, Vea owns the size and talents to fill the Bolts’ biggest hole.

Staying on the defensive side of the ball, the Chargers could use an upgrade at the second level. Los Angeles lacks talent at linebacker, aside from Ingram and Denzel Perryman. South Carolina State’s Darius Leonard could be had with the 16th pick of the second round.

Oakland Raiders

Biggest need: CB
Secondary needs: LB, S, DL

Here we are again. The Raiders enter another draft with a pressing need at corner.

Oakland used its first two picks in last year’s draft on the defensive backfield and will likely have to address its weakness at corner again with its first-round pick.

Gareon Conley, the team’s 2017 first-rounder, appeared in just two games last year and is being penciled in for a starting position a year later. A stable of vets – Rashaan Melvin, Leon Hall, Shareece Wright, Senquez Golson – will be counted on to complement him. Still, even with those names the talent pool remains shallow.

Potential draft targets: If Ohio State corner Denzel Ward is on the board when Oakland reaches the podium, he’s the pick. Selecting 10th overall, the Raiders could reunite Conley with his college teammate. But picking above them are the San Francisco 49ers and they also have a need at corner. The Raiders missed out on the ninth pick by a coin flip. It’d be a shame if they lost out on Ward by the same margin.

For all the ink spent on the Raiders’ secondary, their linebacker corps is just as depleted. The offseason addition of Tahir Whitehead helps, but there’s little in the form of talent outside of him and Bruce Irvin. If Ward isn’t available at No. 10, Oakland should turn its attention to linebacker and pick Georgia’s Roquan Smith. A player like Harold Landry out of Boston College could be available by the time its pick comes around in the second round.

(Photos courtesy: Getty Images)

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