The AFC West is shaping up to become one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL. The Kansas City Chiefs have been dominating recently, going to two Super Bowls in a row. They’ll be looking to add some depth on their offensive line, however, with Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson likely signing elsewhere, they’ll need another receiver to fill in for them.
Since taking over the Las Vegas Raiders, Jon Gruden has been slowly getting this franchise back on track. They finished 8-8 last season but have a ton of momentum to build upon. The offense is close to becoming legit, while the defense is young and needs more star power. They could make some noise during the free agency period this offseason.
As for the Denver Broncos, it sounds like the front office is searching for a new quarterback this offseason. They were one of the other teams vying for Matthew Stafford but backed out after the Los Angeles Rams offered multiple picks and Jared Goff. Denver has time to make another big move, but they’ll need another franchise to cooperate to do so.
Justin Herbert was a rookie phenom for the Los Angeles Chargers that took the league by storm. He already seems like a franchise quarterback, which bodes well for the Chargers’ future success. With Hunter Henry hitting the free-agent market, they may find his replacement in the draft. For Herbert to continue playing at a high level, the front office needs to stack the offense around him.
The Chiefs are on a completely different level right now and the rest of the AFC South needs to catch up. Each team could make a jump forward this offseason, but they’ll need to be aggressive to do so. Here are four bold predictions for the AFC West this offseason.
1. Chiefs draft Rondale Moore
First up in the AFC West is a look at division champ Chiefs. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers exposed the Chiefs’ poor offensive line play. Mahomes was running for his life the entire game, only to have his receivers drop the pass. However, acquiring offensive linemen is likely not at the top of the priority for the front office. The starting left tackle, Eric Fisher, was out due to injury, and the Chiefs provided excellent protection throughout the regular season. They just need to add some depth and they’ll be good to go.
However, with Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson going to be free agents, the Chiefs’ wide receiver group is spread thin. Tyreek Hill leads the way and is still one of Mahomes’ favorite targets, and Mecole Hardman will have a shot at being the third passing option behind Travis Kelce. With not much room in cap space, the Chiefs should be searching for an upgrade at receiver in the draft, and Rondale Moore would be the perfect prospect for this franchise.
Kansas City’s offense is built for speed, and Moore has plenty of it. Coming out of Purdue, the college prospect is catching the attention of everyone heading into the draft. He may need some development, but similar to Clyde Edwards-Helaire, Moore could be a fantastic late-round pick in the first round for the Chiefs.
2. Raiders sign Romeo Okwara
The Las Vegas Raiders finished with one of the worst defenses in the league last season. If they want to make it to the playoffs next year, the front office has to find a way to improve this team. Opposing offenses picked them apart all year, and the Raiders couldn’t stop the run to save their lives.
Vegas needs to find an immediate upgrade for the defense. Romeo Okwara, the defensive lineman for the Detroit Lions, enters free agency as one of the top pass rushers available this offseason. He’s only 26 years old, which means he’s entering the prime of his career. Okwara would immediately become the centerpiece of this Raiders defense as they’re possibly using the draft to build around him in this scenario.
3. Broncos trade for Deshaun Watson
Deshaun Watson has been all over the news recently and the Denver Broncos have been attached to trade rumors from the get-go. Drew Lock hasn’t been impressive so far, and it’s not looking bright for the former Missouri Tiger. Additionally, the Broncos offense is stacked with young talent that could explode at any second.
For Watson, this would be a dream come true. The Broncos have a substantially better offensive line than the Houston Texans have had, and more weapons for Watson to play with. Jerry Jeudy is shaping up to become a perennial Pro Bowler, while Noah Fant is projected to be a top-five tight end, with or without Watson under center. The more the relationship divides between Watson and the Texans, the possibility of the Broncos acquiring him becomes more realistic.
4. Chargers draft Kyle Pitts
Lastly in the AFC West, the Los Angeles Chargers lost a ton of games last season, but not for a lack of trying. Justin Herbert blew everyone’s minds with his stellar performance, winning the Rookie of the Year award for his efforts. Due to questionable play-calling, Anthony Lynn was fired as the head coach. They replaced him with Brandon Staley, who aims to steer the franchise in the right direction under his command.
For the Chargers to build upon their bright future, the front office needs to do their part in creating a supporting cast that Herbert can work with. We’ve seen what he can do with Keenan Allen out wide, and Mike Williams has stepped up from the slow start to his career.
Hunter Henry is likely going to be available in free agency this offseason, which might be the best-case scenario for the Chargers. Although he’s a solid tight end, he hasn’t proven to be a player that elevates the Chargers’ offense. LA should highly consider replacing him with Kyle Pitts.
Pitts is a generational talent for the tight end position. He’s beginning to draw comparisons to Calvin Johnson from scouts, which is insane for a guy who isn’t a wide receiver. He’s a mismatch nightmare for opposing defenses, and could quickly become Justin Herbert’s favorite target. Drafting Kyle Pitts could be a stepping stone to the Chargers dominating the AFC South in the near future.