Denver Broncos– In this examination of roster talent, the Broncos are lucky that their abysmal QB play is not taken into consideration. On the defensive side of the ball, the Broncos have aging all-pro Von Miller to set the edge and get in offensive backfields. Miller has 106 career sacks, and 216 career QB hits, which gives the squad a big boost. They get quiet but solid play from their Safety and MLB spots. The Broncos also get Bradley Chubb back from injury this year to play opposite Miller on the DLine, and added a solid player to replace the loss of Chris Harris with AJ Bouye to the CB spot on the field. This combination should lead the Broncos to another season in the top 10 in scoring defense, being only 1 of 9 teams who allowed less than 20 points per game on average last year.
Their offense also is quite deep, especially at the RB spot. The in conference addition of RB Melvin Gordon will help to take some carries away from RB Phillip Lindsay, ensuring the latter is always fresh and can make the most of every carry. The Broncos also stocked up on the receiver position in the draft, using a 1st round pick on WR Jerry Jeudy and 2nd round selection on another WR KJ Hamler, apparently in an effort to start an arms race with the Chiefs on who could have the most talent on the outside. This combination of a solid defense and deep RB talent leads me, as much as it pains me to do so, to give the edge to the Denver Broncos if the AFC West when factoring in everything but QB talent. As you know however; the QB is the most important player on the field, and the Chiefs aren’t exactly hurting for talent around Patrick Mahomes. So, with the number 2 spot I have to be a bit of a homer, and give it to the Chiefs.
Kansas City Chiefs– The defense was questionable at times last year to say the least, and was hidden by exceptional play from the offense, namely Patrick Mahomes. As we are removing him from consideration for this article, I had to put the Chiefs at #2 for this experiment. The defense did improve immensely as the season progressed however, with standout play from Chris Jones and his 33 career sacks and much improved play later on from Frank Clark and his 43 career sacks. Sure, the LB core is pretty weak but some fine play from strong safety Tyrann Matheiu helps to shore up the back half of the defense and give the team the “dog” mentality that it so desperately needed in order to secure the Super Bowl win.
The offensive side of the ball is certainly not lacking talent, with an excellent receiving core led by Tyreek Hill and his 32 career TD’s. Supporting him here is arguably the best receiving TE in football in Travis Kelce, who has racked up 38 total TD’s. Sammy Watkins and 2nd year standout WR Mecole Hardman also give the chiefs more depth in the WR core. This isn’t even factoring in the unknown that is KC’s 1st round draft pick in RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire, who could become a big factor alongside Damien Williams in the KC backfield. The offensive line isn’t the deepest, but boasts solid tackle play from returning pro-bowl starters Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz. Overall, even removing arguably the most dynamic player in the league from consideration, the Chiefs talent pool is still pretty deep, which is why I had them listed above the newly moved Las Vegas Raiders.
Las Vegas Raiders– The Raiders haven’t been turned around immediately like some had expected with the additions of Head Coach Jon Gruden and GM Mike Mayock, but the pair did put together a pretty decent offseason this year. They added LBs Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski to help with depth and experience in the LB core and added a very experienced CB Prince Amukamara. They also spent their second pick in the 1st round of the 2020 NFL Draft on CB Damon Arnette, who is expected to come in and contribute right away. This still doesn’t address the Raiders lack of a pass rush however, which has been a big struggle since Gruden inexplicably traded Khalil Mack to the Bears. These moves should help improve the defense in Las Vegas somewhat, and bring them closer to competing for some victories this season.
The offensive side of the ball seems to be a lot more stable, with offensive Rookie of the year winner Josh Jacobs at RB after he finished last season with 1,150 rushing yards and 7 TD’s despite only playing in 14 games. The OLine is anchored by veteran standout C Rodney Hudson, and is flanked by 2 legit options at TE in Darren Waller and Foster Moreau. The Raiders also used their 1st draft pick in this years draft to add some WR speed with the selection of Henry Ruggs. Perhaps they got tired of seeing the Chiefs wideouts streaking down the field past their defense? Who knows. This brings us to the bottom of the barrel, the Los Angeles Chargers.
Los Angeles Chargers– This Charger squad is full of holes, but one spot that stands out is their defensive backfield. This includes 23-year-old all-pro safety Derwin James, who looks to be doing nothing but getting better. Combine him with the addition of veteran Chris Harris Jr. who the Chargers stole from the division rival Denver Broncos, and Casey Heyward and Desmond King to help spell him on the outside. Their pass defense was 5th in the NFL last year, and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. They also have a premier pass rushers in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram who have combined for 82 career sacks and 185 QB hits. This is combined with the addition of 23rd overall pick LB Kenneth Murray from Oklahoma, who will help a sorely underperforming linebacking core on this squad.
The offensive side of the ball is weak, other than 3-time pro-bowl WR Keenan Allen, who is by far their most dynamic threat. Their running back squad is less prolific this year with the loss of Melvin Gordon to Denver, leaving the bulk of the touches open for Austin Ekeler. They do get some decent TE play from Hunter Henry however, who is a viable option for the middle of the field receptions. Other than that, this Charger team falls somewhat flat however, which is why they are at the bottom of my AFC West non-QB roster evaluation.