There’s no doubt that the best player in the AFC West is Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is arguably the best player in the entire NFL after winning NFL MVP and Super Bowl MVP in his first two seasons as a starter. The real question is, who’s the second-best player in the AFC West?
There are a lot of great players in the division. The Los Angeles Chargers roster is loaded with talent, the Denver Broncos still have a strong defense while adding pieces on offense, and the Chiefs are the reigning Super Bowl champs. The Las Vegas Raiders have some good players, but none that can compete for second place. TE Darren Waller and RB Josh Jacobs are both very good players, but Waller isn’t even the best TE in his division and RB is becoming less and less prominent in the NFL.
Looking over these teams, there’s no clear-cut answer on who number two should be. The lack of elite players in the AFC West outside of Mahomes makes it a more personal preference. I have narrowed it down to six players who should be considered. In doing so, I have left off some good players; DT Chris Jones, DE Frank Clark, LT Mitchell Schwartz, WR Keenan Allen, RB Austin Eckler, CB Chris Harris, DE Melvin Ingram, OLB Bradley Chubb, RB Phillip Lindsay, and WR Courtland Sutton.
Kansas City Chiefs TE, Travis Kelce
It’s very difficult to be considered this valuable as a TE, but Kelce makes it a no-brainer. The 2x All-Pro had another great season in 2019 with 1,229 receiving yards on 97 catches and 5 touchdowns. He also became the first TE to have over 1,000 yards receiving in four consecutive seasons. He added another 4 touchdowns on the Chiefs Super Bowl run and is the most consistent target on the most explosive offense in the NFL. He’s also a very underrated run blocker.
Los Angeles Chargers S, Derwin James
After an injury plagued 2019, James really only has one season under his belt. It was an electrifying season (pun intended) as he showed the Chargers and the NFL that he is a difference maker on defense. In 2018, James had over 100 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 3.5 sacks. He has a nose for the ball and is not afraid of contact. At only 23, he appears to be the leader of the Chargers defense and reminds me a little bit of another safety on this list.
Denver Broncos OLB, Von Miller
Miller broke the 100-sack mark for his career in 2019 and is still one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL. Miller had 8 sacks last season, and while it’s not the double-digit numbers we are accustomed to, an injury to OLB Bradley Chubb made Miller the only threat on the Broncos defense. Going against double teams and sometimes triple teams every snap is no easy task and Miller was still able to get 20 QB hits. This future Hall of Famer is still a force at 30 and is a guy opposing offenses fear.
Los Angeles Chargers DE, Joey Bosa
With all the attention on his brother Nick Bosa, the 2019 AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, Joey quietly had a much better season. The 2016 AP Defensive Rookie of the year outplayed his brother in every major stat. Joey had 11.5 sacks (9 for Nick), 67 tackles (48), 18 TFL (16), and 31 QB hits (25). Joey gets after the QB with ease and his combination of speed and strength make him a QB’s worst nightmare on every snap. While he may not even be the most talked about player in his own family, Bosa is one of the elite pass rushers in the NFL.
Kansas City Chiefs S, Tyrann Mathieu
What can be said about the Honey Badger that hasn’t already been said? He’s versatile, smart, and one of the greatest leaders in the NFL. The 2019 All-Pro proved that again this past season, coming into a new defense and not missing a beat. Mathieu was everywhere on the field and opposing offenses never knew where he was going to line up. His ability to make reads and see what offenses are going to do is on par with the elite defenders in the league. The Chiefs probably do not win the Super Bowl without 32 in the secondary.
Kansas City Chiefs WR, Tyreek Hill
There is nobody in the NFL like Hill. His combination of speed, agility, and acceleration make him impossible to defend one-on-one. Teams constantly have to double cover Hill and provide safety help. It doesn’t usually matter as Hill is able to create separation better than any receiver in the NFL. Even injury couldn’t slow him down as the 2x All-Pro was able to accumulate 860 yards and 7 touchdowns in just 12 games (he played under 15 snaps in 2 of those 12 games). Tyreek Hill is a threat on every down, anywhere on the field while lined up at any position. How else do you think he got so open on Wasp in the Super Bowl? He would be my pick for the second best player in the AFC West.