Analysis Around the League Opinion

Projecting each AFC West team’s starters

As we get closer and closer to the 2020 NFL season, the roster predictions start to grow.

In free agency and the draft teams have revamped their roster, adding new talent and experience.

The AFC West is one of those divisions that saw a lot of talent join the four teams. With new talent on each team, here are projected starting lineups for all four AFC West teams.

Kansas City Chiefs

Offense: QB: Patrick Mahomes RB: Damien Williams FB: Anthony Sherman WR1: Tyreek Hill WR2: Sammy Watkins WR3: Mecole Hardman TE: Travis Kelce LT: Eric Fisher LG: Martinas Rankin C: Austin Reiter RG: Laurent Duvernay-Tardif RT: Mitchell Schwartz

A few notes to think about here. Mecole Hardman will take over larger role this season, despite the return of both Watkins and Demarcus Robinson. Hardman will become the WR3 adapting to a bigger role before the 2021 season.

At RB, Damien Williams will start off the season as the starter while first-round draft pick, Clyde Edward-Helaire, adapts and learns the new system and get some early snaps.

Finally, at LG, Martinas Rankin will take Andre Wylie’s spot as the starter despite coming off an injury, but if third-round draft pick, Lucas Niang develops quickly, he could take the spot during the season.

Defense: LDE: Frank Clark DT1: Chris Jones DT2: Derrick Nnadi RDE: Alex Okafor SAM: Damien Wilson MIKE: Anthony Hitchens WILL: Willie Gay Jr. RCB: Bashaud Breeland LCB: Charvarious Ward NCB: Rashad Fenton SS: Tyrann Mathieu FS: Juan Thornhill

Willie Gay will be the starting WILL for the Chiefs as he brings pure athleticism, speed and coverage abilities to be effective right away for the Chiefs. For Damien Wilson, he played a lot of WILL last season, but he was signed to play the SAM position, and with Reggie Ragland leaving the Chiefs in free agency, Wilson will move to the SAM position.

In the secondary, the Chiefs will start with Fenton at NCB, but there are variations that can come into play throughout the season. The Chiefs can also have Mathieu play the NCB, where he played the most snaps last season.

Special Teams: LS: James Winchester P: Tommy Townsend K: Harrison Butker

As the Chiefs released Dustin Colquitt, there will be a new punter for the team in 15 years. The battle is between Tyler Newsome and Tommy Townsend. Townsend gets the job with a decorated career at Florida and he has key advantage over Newsome in his ability to be a holder. Colquitt was the holder for Butker and having Townsend come in with holding experience is key for him.

Denver Broncos

Offense: QB: Drew Lock RB: Melvin Gordon III FB: Andrew Beck WR1: Courtland Sutton WR2: Jerry Jeudy WR3: KJ Hamler TE: Noah Fant LT: Garett Bolles LG: Dalton Risner C: Lloyd Cushenberry III RG: Graham Glasgow RT: Ja’Wuan James

The Broncos added Melvin Gordon III in free agency to pair with Phillip Lindsay. Both pieces will be huge for Drew Lock and the entire offense.

The WR unit got a huge boost in the draft with the youth of Jeudy and Hamler, who will be immediate starters for the offense.

The offensive line was also upgraded with the addition of Glasgow in free agency and Cushenberry in the draft.

Defense: DE: Jurrell Casey NT: Mike Purcell DE: Shelby Harris ILB: Alexander Johnson ILB: Todd Davis SLB: Bradley Chubb WLB: Von Miller LCB: A.J. Bouye RCB: Bryce Callahan FS: Justin Simmons SS: Kareem Jackson

The Broncos retained two big pieces of their defense in re-signing Shelby Harris and placing the franchise tag on S Justin Simmons. The defense also gets OLB Bradley Chubb back this season after tearing his ACL last year.

Before losing CB Chris Harris Jr, in free agency, the Broncos traded for Bouye from the Jaguars. Bryce Callahan is also expected to play a big piece in the defense this season after not playing in a game last year.

Special Teams LS: Wes Farnsworth
P: Sam Martin K: Brandon McManus

Las Vegas Raiders

Offense: QB: Derek Carr RB: Josh Jacobs FB: Alec Ingold WR1: Henry Ruggs III WR2: Tyrell Williams WR3: Hunter Renfrow TE: Darren Waller LT: Kolton Miller LG: Richie Incognito C: Rodney Hudson RG: Gabe Jackson RT: Trent Brown

The Raiders used the No. 12 overall pick in this year’s draft to add Ruggs III and he is going to fill up the WR1 position moving Williams to WR2, with Hunter Renfrow taking the third WR spot in the slot.

Defense: LDE: Maxx Crosby DT1: Maliek Collins DT2: Johnathon Hankins RDE: Clelin Ferrell SAM: Nicholas Morrow MIKE: Nick Kwiatkoski WILL: Cory Littleton LCB: Trayvon Mullen RCB: Damon Arnette NCB: Lamarcus Joyner SS: Johnathon Abram FS: Damarious Randall

The Raiders had one of the league’s worst defenses last year and made some splashes in free agency, adding LBs Kwiatkoski and Littleton to beef up the LB core.

In the secondary, they added Damarious Randall and Jeff Heath in free agency, while drafting Damon Arnette in the first round.

Special Teams: LS: Trent Sieg P: AJ Cole K: Daniel Carlson

Los Angeles Chargers

Offense: QB: Tyrod Taylor RB: Austin Ekeler FB: Gabe Nabers WR1: Keenan Allen WR2: Mike Williams WR3: Andre Patton TE: Hunter Henry LT: Bryan Bulaga LG: Dan Feeney C: Mike Pouncey RG: Trai Turner RT: Sam Tevi

The Chargers made it a priority to address the offensive line this offseason. With that, they traded for Trai Turner and signed Bryan Bulaga in free agency.

Austin Ekeler will take over as the RB1 full time as Melvin Gordon III left in free agency to join the Denver Broncos.

Defense: LDE: Joey Bosa DT1: Linval Joseph DT2: Justin Jones RDE: Melvin Ingram SAM: Uchenna Nwosu MIKE: Kenneth Murray WILL: Nick Vigil LCB: Chris Harris Jr. RCB: Casey Heyward NCB: Desmond King SS: Derwin James FS: Rayshawn Jenkins

The talented Chargers defense added two new pieces in free agency by signing Chris Harris Jr. and Nick Vigil. In addition to free agency, the Chargers also added LB Kenneth Murray in the first round of the draft.

Special Teams: LS: Cole Mazza P: Ty Long K: Michael Badgley

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