Denver Broncos (A)
What a great offseason for the Broncos. Trading a low fourth for AJ Bouye is a steal, he replaces Chris Harris and keeps experience in the CB room. Melvin Gordon will upgrade the RB position which will help take some pressure off first-year starter Drew Lock, Lock has a lot of pressure to succeed due to the apparent strength of this roster. Both Gordon and Lock will be excited about the 4-year $44 million deal for Graham Glasgow. A great guard signed from the Lions, will use power to block D-lineman creating lanes for Gordon and Lindsay whilst also creating protection for Lock. The 3-year starter in Detroit deserved a valuable contract and the Broncos gave him one. Despite the loss of McGovern (centre) to the Jets, the Broncos O-line is looking solid. If Garrett Boiles can improve at left tackle, Lock can feel secure for his first full season as a starter. They also picked up Jurrell Casey for only a 7th round pick, an absolute steal that greatly improves their D-line. That’s Miller, Chubb and Casey. This is a strong team.
Free agency was good, but the draft was outstanding. The matchup of the year will be when they play the Chiefs. It’s a full track meet. First, they acquired Jerry Jeudy 15th overall. It’s amazing the best WR in the draft slid to 15th. Already possessing route running of a veteran receiver, he will transform this offense. Add to this, the 2nd round pick of speedster KJ Hamler might be enough to force a safety to lean to that side of the field. With a great O-line, the defence may need to commit extra rushers leaving a one-on-one matchup with wither Jeudy, Hamler or the physical beast of Courtland Sutton. That’s frightening. Add to that the TE due of Noah Fant of the fastest TE in this year’s draft of Albert Okwuegbunam. Drew Lock has no excuse and from the way he played end of last season (especially against Houston) he has the potential to succeed. Lloyd Cushenberry will replace McGovern at centre and was one of the best interior O-lineman in the draft. Add to this McTelvin Agim, the DT from Arkansas who can use his quickness from playing defensive end to be a nightmare in the interior of the D-line. The best thing is with Purcell, Agim still has a year or two to learn before becoming a starter. Broncos, Jest and Vikings had one hell of a draft.
Kansas City Chiefs (B)
The Chiefs couldn’t do much in free agency due to being tight to the cap (and with the looming Pat Mahomes contract). They lost Kendall Fuller to the Redskins which leaves a large gap at slot corner that could revert the Chiefs defence back to it’s bad 2018-19 form. However, he was never going to get paid due to the cap. Resigning Bashaud Breeland does ease the pain in the defensive backfield. Other than that, the Chiefs look to be returning with effectively the same team as they did last year … and that team won them the Superbowl.
The draft was decent as well. Edwards-Helaire (EH) is just perfect for the offense. Whilst Swift and Taylor may be better pure runners, EH’s pass catching ability and versatility will improve this offense, something that was previously thought to be impossible. It’s even better that Mahomes picked EH himself. I believe that there was better value on the board than Willie Gay but taking Lucas Niang in the 3rd will help create lanes for EH and Williams (Williams should have been Superbowl MVP, but it’s always given to a QB even if he throws a boneheaded interception). Daryl Williams is an undrafted free agency who could make the 53 as a backup option for the interior O-line for the coming season.
Las Vegas Raiders (C)
Last year the Raiders had a great draft, and most people considered it lacklustre. Therefore, I feel that this grade may not hold up by the end of next year. However, signing Cory Littleton and Nick Kwiatkoski to sure up the linebacker which was quite weak last season. Neither came at an astronomical cap hit either. However, a 3-year $25.25 million deal for Carl Nassib is a bit rich. Especially when he may only be a rotational piece if Clelin Ferrall and Arden Key improve. The 3-year deal does cover the length of their rookie contract so he may just be a luxury rotational option until one of them gets paid. Mariota wasn’t a great signing but Gruden loves to have multiple QBs so it wasn’t surprising. Witten on a one-year deal can coach up a young and inconsistent tight end group and be a safety net for Carr, one he hasn’t had in years. However, they did sign Nelson “drop everything” Agholor, but if Gruden can train him to consistently catch, it may be the best signing of the Raider’s free agency.
The only thing I have against the Ruggs pick is that Jeudy was on the board, otherwise it was a great pick. He can stretch the field like no other receiver in the class. Damon Arnette was taken for being a fighter and an “underdog” but those qualities should be found on day two, day one you take a top tier talent and Mayock valuing Arnette as much as Okudah seems ridiculous, but this is Mayock and his evaluations have been as good as anyone’s for countless years. Bowden was announced as a running back and will be a change of pace for Jacobs. Add to this Bryan Edwards to fill the “big slot” and the Raiders are building a versatile offense to chase after the powerhouse Chiefs. Tanner Muse may struggle in coverage but his work on the field (chasing down JK Dobbins in the college playoff semi finals to stop a touchdown) is the kind of attitude any coach should want on his defence. Add to this the 5ft 8in corner in Amik Robertson and Mayock has picked up undervalued, tough guys on day two and three, it’s just doing it on day one with great athletes still on the board (Jeff Gladney) that seems detrimental.
Los Angeles Chargers (C)
Inconsistency in the offseason for the Chargers so far. Picking up Chris Harris on a two-year deal is fantastic and helps fill a need at outside corner. At 31, a two-year deal is the perfect duration for a past (and present as far as we know) top corner. Bulaga on a 3-year deal to help a dismal offensive line feels like the Nate Solder signing for the Giants a few years ago, it feels as if it won’t work out. Losing Rivers at QB is a massive loss but he needed a change of scenery and the Chargers needed to move on. However, letting Adrian Phillips walk, for the amount they could have paid him, seems ridiculous for a very undervalued player. They needed more depth at WR and the Chargers didn’t get it in free agency and they should have perhaps done more to sure up the O-line, especially considering that by the end of the coming season, they will have a rookie relying on it’s protection.
The draft was very inconsistent. One of my least favourite picks in the first round was Justin Herbert. He is inaccurate, he throws late and relies on receives winning 50/50 balls. He desperately needs to sit behind Tyrod Taylor for a year (and probably more). If the Chargers are patient with Herbert, they will be rewarded because of his high ceiling but he is not ready right now. We’ve seen young QBs thrown behind bad O-lines who aren’t ready before (David Carr and Deshawn Kizer). Herbert hopefully won’t be one of them. Then they took maybe the best value pick of the first round. An explosive athlete who is reportedly ready to take on play calling duties for the Chargers. His off-field value may be just as much or more than his on-field performance. A great pick. Joshua Kelly will be asked to replace Melvin Gordon and Joe Reed will start at slot most likely. However, depth at receiver is still a massive issue, it is Allen and Williams and then Reed and other unknown quantities. Very inconsistent but at least they have great uniforms.