The Future of the AFC and NFC West in 2020
Denver Broncos: The Broncos did a lot of good things in free agency this off season. Denver acquired running back Melvin Gordon to team up with Phillip Lindsay to create one of the best backfields in the NFL, Guard Graham Glasgow to improve their offensive line, tight end Nick Vannett to add depth at that position. The Broncos also traded for defensive lineman Jurrell Casey and only gave up a seventh-round pick, and A.J. Bouye for a fourth-round pick.
Denver also changed their coaching staff by adding Pat Shurmur as their new offensive coordinator, and Mike Shula as their new quarter backs coach. Together Shurmur and Shula should be able to improve the play of Drew Lock, who was able to win 4 out of his 5 starts at the end of last year’s season.
Looking ahead to the draft Denver still needs some more help on their offensive line, especially on the outside, as Garrett Bolles has been one of the biggest disappointments so far in his 3 years in the league. Denver also needs to address their receiving core to give Courtland Sutton assistance, as well as their spots at corner after losing Chris Harris Jr. in free agency. With Denver picking 15th in this year’s draft, players such as offensive tackle Andrew Thomas, wide receiver Henry Ruggs, and corner back C.J. Henderson should all be available when the Broncos are on the clock. Whichever of these positions they don’t draft in the first round should be addressed in later rounds.
If the holes are filled through the draft and with the addition of all of the free agents Denver has acquired, we can expect to see an improved Broncos team this year.
Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs are the preseason favorites to win Super Bowl 55 and repeat as champions. They were able to re-sign some key pieces like receiver Demarcus Robinson and corner Bashaud Breeland, as well as franchise tagging Chris Jones. But there is still more improving that the Chiefs can do.
In the draft the Chiefs should look at improving their secondary, as well as the interior of their offensive line. With the Chiefs holding the last pick in the first round, it is still possible for players such as safety Grant Delpit or center Cesar Ruiz to be available. Kansas City might also want to look at drafting a running back to give themselves a better ground attack to go along with their incredible aerial attack. If that is what they desire the most they might have to trade up to select running backs such as D’Andre Swift or J.K. Dobbins.
With a championship repeat extremely possible for the Chiefs, especially if they nail the draft this year, there are high hopes Andy Reid’s team once again. We can definitely expect another terrific offensive performance from Patrick Mahomes and his familiar, and potentially new weapons.
Los Angeles Chargers: The Charges did a lot of work adding pieces to their defense and their offensive line in free agency. They acquired defensive tackle Linval Joseph and corner back Chris Harris Jr. to add to defense that already features Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Casey Hayward, and Derwin James. As for the offensive side they acquired tackle Bryan Bulaga and guard Trai Turner.
With all the new additions we still can’t forget that the Chargers lost their longtime quarterback in Philip Rivers, and I’m not exactly sure Tyrod Taylor is who the Chargers have in mind as their future QB. With that being said, the Bolts should for sure look for a new signal caller. Picking 6th in this year’s draft should give them that opportunity, it’s just a matter of who’s available.
With concerns regarding Tua Tagovailoa’s health, the idea of the Dolphins, who hold the pick before the Chargers who had been previously believed to take Tagovailoa, to instead take Justin Herbert is circulating. So one option for the Chargers would be to take Tagovailoa and let him sit for a year to recover from his injuries and to learn the game at a professional level. Another option would be to draft Jordan Love if they don’t want to risk drafting Tagovailoa. And the final option would be to trade up ahead of the Dolphins to take Herbert.
After losing Melvin Gordon, and not having a clear idea of who will be leading the offense for the Chargers, we can most likely assume that the Chargers offense will struggle this year. Their defense on the other hand, should be dominant against other teams, and should help them focus on improving only one side of the ball going forward.
Las Vegas Raiders: The Raiders did some decent work in the off season, resigning Richie Incognito, and adding tight end Jason Witten to give the Raiders some veteran leadership. With deep needs at wide receiver, Las Vegas also added Nelson Agholor, who is coming off of rough season with the Eagles. On the defensive side the Raiders managed to acquire players like linebacker Cory Littleton, defensive tackle Maliek Collins, safety Jeff Heath, and defensive back Damarious Randall. So no huge signings for the Raiders this off season, but they made some solid small signings which should be beneficial to the team.
The Raiders have two first round picks in this year’s draft, numbers 12 and 19. With the lack of a true number one wider receiver after the aftermath of the Antonio Brown situation from last year, the Raiders should look to draft one with their first pick. Guys like Lamb and Ruggs should definitely be available when the Raiders pick at 12. Vegas should also look to add depth at corner with their 19th pick. Players like Travon Diggs and A.J. Terrell should be their primary targets.
Seattle Seahawks: The Seahawks were able to sign Tight end Greg Olsen, offensive tackle Brandon Shell, guard Mike Iupati, receiver Phillip Dorsett, defensive end Bruce Irvin, and were able to trade for corner Quinton Dunbar that sent a fifth-round pick to Washington. These additions should really help improve a team who is already a solid playoff contender, and a team that was one win away from having the #1 seed in the playoffs last year.
The main concern for Seattle is their defensive line as they lost Al woods and Quinton Jefferson to free agency, and appear to not want to spend a large sum of money to re-sign Jadeveon Clowney. As previously mentioned Seattle was able to sign Bruce Irvin and retain Jarran Reed, but will need than that to dominate at the line of scrimmage. In the draft Seattle should look to take someone else to add to their defensive line. Defensive ends A.J. Epenesa and Yetur Gross Matos would be good additions to their defense.
Arizona Cardinals: Arizona pulled off one of the most insane trades in NFL history this off season by trading the expensive contract of David Johnson, a 2020 second-round pick, and a 2021 fourth-round pick, to the Texans in exchange for DeAndre Hopkins and a 2020 fourth-round pick. This trade saved the Cardinals a bunch of cap space, got rid of the injury-prone Johnson while still maintaining a solid running back in Kenyan Drake, and gave Kyler Murray an elite receiver to throw to.
In the draft the Cardinals are picking 8th and it would be hard for them to pass on offensive tackle Tristan Wirfs if he is still there, to fortify that offensive line and protect Murray. They should also look to load up on defensive pieces as they need help in pretty much every which way. Free agent signings De’Vondre Campbell, Devon Kennard, and Jordan Phillips are nice additions, but they will need more to improve their defense.
San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers re-signed key pieces in safety Jimmie Ward, defensive end Arik Armstead, and center Ben Garland, who stepped up for San Francisco when starting center Weston Richburg went down with an injury. They did give up defensive tackle Deforest Buckner in a trade to the Colts for the 13th pick, giving them two in the first round.
With the 13th and the 31st picks, the 49ers should look to add to their secondary as they got repeatedly burned late in Super Bowl 54 by the Chiefs receivers, as well as add another receiver after Emmanuel Sanders left for New Orleans. Targeting Henry Ruggs if he is still there with their 13th pick and corner Jeff Gladney at 31 should be what the 49ers focus on in the first round. Later down the line they should look to replace Buckner to keep that defensive line as dominant as possible. Justin Madubuike and Ross Blacklock would be solid options to replace Buckner.
Los Angeles Rams: The Rams brought back defensive tackle Michael Brockers, offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, and guard Austin Blythe, as well as signing linebacker Leonard Floyd. However they lost running back Todd Gurley to the Falcons and they traded Bradin Cooks to Houston for a second round pick, leaving the current offense limited.
The Rams don’t have a first round pick as they traded it to Jacksonville for Jalen Ramsey last season, so the Rams will have to look to do their work later in the draft or trade their way into the first round. They need a running back to replace Gurley. Seeing as their first pick isn’t until number 52 the Rams may need to trade up to get backs such as D’Andre Swift, J.K. Dobbins or Jonathan Taylor. They should also look to add another weapon on the perimeter to replace Cooks. Seeing as this draft is deep with receivers, finding a quality one in the second round is very possible. Brandon Aiyuk or Laviska Shenault Jr. could be available for the Rams to take.
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