NFL Draft 2021: AFC West Team Needs
The last-minute NFL draft scramble begins for all divisions as the hours to draft day tick down all too quickly. In particular, the AFC West is assembling its own plans to develop their draft decisions.
Let’s dive right into the division’s most pressing issues to address:
Los Angeles Chargers
Needs: Left Tackle, Cornerback
Strapped with the 13th overall pick plus eight more, the Bolts in blue and gold have a lot of choices to bolster the offensive line that protects its Rookie of the Year quarterback Justin Herbert.
However, Chargers general manager Tom Telesco did not sit idly by during free agency.
With exception of right tackle Bryan Bulaga, Telesco filled the guards and center positions with notable names such as former Pittsburgh Steelers tackle/guard Matt Feiler and former Green Bay Packers center Corey Linsley. Both of these acquisitions piqued the interest of multiple teams around the league.
Left tackle is the other position that Los Angeles needs a man for the job. In terms of prospects within reach, Penei Sewell of Oregon and Teven Jenkins of Oklahoma State have upside.
As for cornerback, the release of Casey Hayward renders a free spot to partner with Michael Davis, who accrued 48 solo tackles during the 2020 season.
An early pick in the draft on Thursday means pick possibilities in Alabama’s Patrick Surtain II. Surtain wowed coaches with his impressive pro day performance with 18 reps on the bench press and a 4.42 time for the 40-yard dash.
Kansas City Chiefs
Needs: Defensive Line
Before the trade acquisition of former Baltimore Ravens tackle Orlando Brown Jr., the mock draft faithful would most likely peg the Chiefs as a team prioritizing their offensive line after a less-than-ideal showing at Super Bowl 55.
According to CBSSports.com, the unexpected trade cost the Chiefs a 2021 first-round pick (31st overall), a 2021 third-round pick (94th overall), a 2021 fourth-round pick (136th overall) and a 2022 fifth-round selection to the Ravens for Brown, a 2021 second-round pick (58th overall) and a 2022 sixth-round pick.
In summary, the Chiefs’ needs shifted considerably to a more defensive angle. Pass-rushing proved to be a problem in the Super Bowl, as Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady barely felt pressure and threw all over the Chiefs for a 31-9 beatdown.
Penn Staters could see a familiar face suit up in Arrowhead Stadium if Jayson Oweh of Penn State is chosen. In 2020, Oweh received All-Big Ten first team honors with his teammate Shaka Toney.
The Broncos’ future plans may be drawn up without Drew Lock at the end of the NFL draft. Compared to one of his AFC West rivals, Lock threw 1,403 yards fewer than Justin Herbert, a rookie.
With the No. 9 pick in the first round, general manager John Elway could easily go the quarterback route, but this team also has issues with its offensive and defensive tackles.
The recent acquisition of former Carolina Panthers quarterback Teddy Bridgewater provides a cushion in case the chips fall without a top quarterback prospect available.
Mock drafts place Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields falling in the Broncos’ lap due to his falling value after a College Football Playoff championship loss to the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Las Vegas Raiders
Needs: Defensive Line
The Black and Silver’s deteriorating defensive line should be the main priority going into the 17th pick in the first round.
Right tackle, free safety and cornerback are the biggest holes in need of repair. The recent addition of Yannick Ngakoue provides the Raiders with a key pass rusher that should be eager to attack Chargers’ quarterback Justin Herbert. The teams are major rivals within the AFC West.
On the offensive side, running back Kenyan Drake and wide receiver John Brown are now at their disposal, which should pacify the Raiders’ offensive front.
With a defensive focus in the draft, the Raiders need to balance their talent if they want a legitimate shot at a 2021-2022 playoff run.
Emma Holtz is a freshman majoring in public relations. To contact her, email email@example.com.