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AFC West Roster Analysis

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Jesse Kemp, Jun 27, 2014.

  1. Jesse Kemp

    Jesse Kemp BoltTalker

    Dec 25, 2013
    Howdy guys. Wrote this over on the CMB, but thought I'd share…

    Now that rosters are fairly settled, I want to take a look at our division by position and see where we stack up against the Broncos, Chiefs, and Raiders.

    1. Broncos: Until Peyton Manning falls off the age cliff or gets hurt, he's enough on his own to keep the Broncos here. Their depth chart behind him is crap, but that's really irrelevant as very few teams have true quality backups. Suffice it to say I don't think Osweiler is a future starter, and the other two guys are iffy to even make the roster.
    2. Chargers: In most divisions in football, SD would be #1 here based on Rivers. His rebirth in 2013 opened eyes as to how effective he can be in a scheme that caters to the talent available. I like Clemens and Sorensen better than the other backups in the division, the one being experienced and the other having flashed some interesting ability.
    3. Chiefs: Alex Smith is a below average starting quarterback. There are some interesting names behind him on the depth chart to develop like Bray and Murray, but intriguing backups don't do much to help a team in the here and now. I'm actually hopeful that the Chiefs will resign Smith and try to keep him for the long hall. He really limits their ceiling as a team.
    4. Raiders: Matt Schaub saves KC from landing 4th on this list. Carr's upside as a future starter might be meaningful to some, but he doesn't handle pressure well and that's pretty much a deal breaker for me. Matt McGloin should remain as a solid backup.
    Running Back:
    1. Chargers: San Diego doesn't boast a superstar of Charles' caliber, but they still top the list because they go three (maybe four?) deep with quality players. Mathews has evolved into the bruising foundation of the running game. Brown is a slasher with terrific balance and home run ability. And Woodhead remains a stellar receiver. Grice was a surprise pick in the 6th, but he's a talented pass catcher who may make an impact down the road or in case of injury.
    2. Chiefs: Not being a big fan of Knile Davis, I view this backfield as being basically comprised of Jamaal Charles and little else. But he's such a terrific player that I still considered ranking KC #1. In the end, the backups are just too uninspiring for me. D'Anthony Thomas, IMO, is setting up to be another in a long line of disappointing RB/OW types to come out of the Oregon offense.
    3. Raiders: Darren McFadden has been a talented tease his entire career, so I'm not counting on him for much. But I do believe that MJD could have something left, and Latavius Murray is a very interesting talent who could surprise if his knowledge of the playbook catches up to his freakish athletic ability. He's a 230 lb back with burst and quickness.
    4. Broncos: I fully expect Denver's backfield to outproduce this ranking, but more as a function of Peyton's offense than their own talent. Ball is an ordinary player who lacks the burst and quickness to take full advantage of his blocking. Ronnie Hillman might be better if he could hang onto the ball. I honestly wouldn't be surprised if C.J. Anderson looks the best of the 3 in 2014. Regardless, their lead back will be rushing against 6 man boxes fairly regularly.
    Tight End:
    1. Chargers: This is an easy choice for me given the quality that SD has at the position. Gates is still a consistent receiver, even at 80% of what he once was; he draws double teams and moves the chains. Green is clearly on the brink of a breakout as a big play pass catcher, and the position is rounded out by solid blockers in John Phillips and David Johnson.
    2. Broncos: Julius Thomas broke out in a major way last season. It will be interesting to see how he follows up in 2014. Dreesen and Tamme are uninspiring in the passing game but Dreesen is at least a useful blocker. Virgil Green has developed into their best player in that regard, and has some athletic upside to him to boot.
    3. Chiefs: Anthony Fasano isn't scaring anyone, but he's a good blocker and has very reliable hands. Travis Kelce is one to watch, as he may give KC their best option for a pass catching TE. Behind those two are a handful of unexciting role players.
    4. Raiders: Oakland has a couple of interesting names on the roster at TE, but none of them are anywhere near established so they remain at #4. Rivera is a nifty receiver and Kasa came in as a project who wasn't likely to help much in year one. Ausberry is listed as the starter, but I don't have any idea why.
    Wide Receiver:
    1. Broncos: Demariyus Thomas is one of the best in the league at his position. Wes Welker is still an effective underneath receiver with shaky durability, but Emmanuel Sanders will be a capable fill in for him in the slot if need be while also being capable lined up outside. Cody Latimer was one of my favorite receivers in a very good class and should ably fit into Eric Decker's role in the offense.
    2. Raiders: Oakland's receivers have become underrated through years of terrible QB play. Rod Streater is a reliable possession guy, James Jones is a solid veteran with some deep ball ability, Denarius Moore is a dangerous athlete, and there are some interesting names down the depth chart (like Brice Butler and Juron Criner). A talented bunch that goes unnoticed because of who is throwing them the ball.
    3. Chargers: Keenan Allen is an emerging star in this league, but he doesn't have much reliable talent behind him on the depth chart. Malcom Floyd and Eddie Royal are both effective in their own way, but both struggle to stay healthy. Vincent Brown will need to improve markedly if he hopes to deliver on his once exciting promise.
    4. Chiefs: Long overrated Dwayne Bowe tops a depth chart that lacks quality. Donnie Avery is a good YAC player when he's schemed open, but he doesn't have anything resembling a complete game. Behind these two, it gets really bleak. I'll leave it at that.
    Offensive Line:
    1. Broncos: Despite getting totally whooped in the SuperBowl, I think Denver's OL should still rank tops in the division. For starters, they get one of the best tackles in football back in Ryan Clady. That return allows them to move the solid Chris Clark to RT, which in turn gives them the option to put Orlando Franklin at LG. Franklin was a good tackle, and will likely be a great guard. Vasquez is a high end RG, while Ramirez is probably the weakest link as a good run blocker and poor pass protector. None of their depth excites me, but they're good enough at the starting spots to warrant this ranking.
    2. Chargers: What a difference a year makes, as Chargers fans went into 2013 holding their collective breath regarding the front 5. Since then, King Dunlap has shown himself to be an above average LT when on the field next to Chad Rinehart, who is a solid LG when he is on the field (seeing a theme?). The new offensive approach was a huge boost to center Nick Hardwick, who played great in 2013. Jeromey Clary was average at RG, which was an improvement over what he was at RT. And D.J. Fluker really impressed as the replacement on that end. Backup tackle Mike Harris was much improved in 2013, while 3rd rounder Chris Watt will push for playing time.
    3. Raiders: Offensive line is one of the handful of areas that the Raiders have made major improvements to since last season. Donald Penn is nothing special, but he brings stability to the position. Austin Howard is a big step forward at RT, Wisniewski is an above average center, and Boothe should at least be serviceable at RG. Gabe Jackson should be able to step in right away at LG. Menalik Watson remains on the roster as a backup with upside to develop.
    4. Chiefs: After losing Branden Albert, Geoff Schwartz, and Jon Asamoah, the Chiefs are going to look much different up front. They're going to have to hope Fisher acquits himself much better at LT than he did at RT. Rodney Hudson is a solid center, but they're banking on break out seasons from Jeff Allen and Donald Stephenson at LG and RT respectively. RG looks like it's going to be a problem area as it's up for grabs between Linkenbach and Watkins. The depth isn't exciting either. Looks to me like the Chiefs have lost too much, replaced too little, and are counting on way too many unknowns to break their way.
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  2. Jesse Kemp

    Jesse Kemp BoltTalker

    Dec 25, 2013
    Interior Defensive Line (3-4 DL and 4-3 DT):
    1. Broncos: Denver has managed to keep Knighton motivated, resulting in some high quality interior play. Williams really started to come on down the stretch and enters 2014 as the other starter. Vickerson is a high end player for being a 3rd DT, while Unrein also offers some value as a role player. Derek Wolfe might get some looks inside too, if he can stay healthy.
    2. Chiefs: Dontari Poe is fast becoming the best 3-4 NT in the league, which makes up for a lot. Devito is a solid two down player next to him. And while Allen Bailey has failed to develop into the disruptor many thought he'd become, new addition Vance Walker might fit that role nicely. Not much depth here, but Poe is pretty impressive all on his own.
    3. Chargers: This area disappointed more than any other for SD in 2013. Corey Liuget was only a little above average, but playing hurt. The hope is that he will breakout after a healthy offseason. Lissemore was a nice surprise at NT, but isn't a dominating player and will likely need to stay in a healthy rotation. Reyes has really struggled as a run defender, and needs to put up or shut up in 2014 on early downs. But for all that, he's still a good pass rusher for the position. Lawrence Guy is a solid backup, and there is hope that Carrethers will help shore up the run defense. It will be interesting to see what the plans are for Cordarro Law, who is listed as a 3-4 DE on every depth chart I've looked at.
    4. Raiders: The Raiders might have a decent pairing in the middle if Pat Sims stays motivated and Antonio Smith has one more good year left in the tank. But that's hoping for quite a lot. Justin Ellis is an intriguing project behind those two, but the depth is otherwise bleak.

    Pass Rushers (3-4 OLB and 4-3 DE, plus Mack and Miller):
    1. Chiefs: This ranking probably won't surprise anyone after Hali and Houston combined for 22 sacks last season despite both missing time. And while Hali is starting to show some regression, the addition of Dee Ford just gives them another talented player to bring pressure off the edge. There are worse OLB4's out there than Frank Zombo.
    2. Broncos: 2013 was something of a lost season for Von Miller, but he returns this year and I have no doubt he'll be back to his sack artist ways. At 32 and coming off of back issues, I'm less confident about Demarcus Ware but the upside is certainly there to be an upgrade. Derek Wolfe isn't much of a pass rusher, but Malik Jackson is useful as a role player and Quanterus Smith will have a chance to prove himself now that he's healthy.
    3. Raiders: The Raiders could see a big improvement in their pass rush this season if they get decent production out of their veteran acquisitions and 1st round pick. Khalil Mack is going to play a Von Miller style 4-3 SOLB and will get plenty of chances to sack opposing QB's. Sio Moore is a lite version of that same player and tantalized with 4.5 sacks as a rookie. Meanwhile Lamarr Woodley and Justin Tuck both strike me as guys with incredibly wide spectrum of possible outcomes. But both have proven themselves in the past and neither are necessarily washed up quite yet. Tuck in particular was playing very well down the stretch in 2013.
    4. Chargers: I am expecting big improvements from this group in 2014, but until they show something I can't put them anywhere but 4th without feeling like a homer. Ingram will be 100% and will hopefully breakout as a pass rushing playmaker. Counting on a 34 year old Freeney to stay healthy and produce seems a little too optimistic, but explosive rookie Jerry Attaochu may well emerge in that same PRS role. At this point we know what JJ and English are as pass rushers-- that is to say, not much.The 5th spot will be contested for by Thomas Keiser and Tourek Williams, with the winner hopefully being able to chip in with some spot duty.
    Linebackers (3-4 ILB and 4-3 LB, minus Mack and Miller):
    1. Chargers: While lacking a star of Derrick Johnson's caliber, the Chargers linebackers are deeper with quality than any other in the division. Donald Butler had a down season, but we know what he is as a playmaking WILL. Te'o was merely average for most of the year at MIKE, but really started to come on down the stretch. Kavell Conner is a high end LB3, who could likely start on some teams. And Reggie Walker is a serviceable, versatile backup when needed.
    2. Chiefs: Derrick Johnson essentially warrants the #2 spot by himself. He is the rich man's Donald Butler, and doesn't seem to be slowing down yet. Thumpers Nico Johnson and Joe Mays have their place, but neither are going to be able to handle 3 down work. James-Michael Johnson may be something in time, but that remains to be seen.
    3. Raiders: The Raiders are by no means awesome at linebacker, but they have some solid components on the roster. Nick Roach is a serviceable starter who may be pushed by the returning Miles Burris. Kaluka Maiava is a good player for a backup role, and Sio Moore should continue to grow as a versatile weapon for Dennis Allen's defense. Veteran Kevin Burnett also remains on the roster.
    4. Broncos: If we're counting Miller in the pass rusher category, the Broncos are in really bad shape here. Irving is entering his 4th season and has been a disappointment to date; if he was going to really win the MLB job, he had ample chances to do so by now. Danny Trevathan is a nice player, but we've already seen in Wesley Woodyard that the WOLB position in this defense can produce some fool's gold. And there's not much else on the roster to take note of, unless one thinks Lamin Barrow is going to be ready to make an impact in a hurry.
    1. Broncos: While I think that going from 2013 DRC to Talib is actually a downgrade, there's no denying that the latter is still a fine player. And what's more, he allows Chris Harris Jr. to kick back into the slot full time, where he's at his best. Bradley Roby is talented, but I think he will struggle mightily as a rookie and may lose playing time to Kayvon Webster, who looked surprisingly solid as a rookie. The team is still waiting for the frustrating Rahim Moore to put it all together at FS, but T.J. Ward was probably their biggest upgrade of the offseason at SS. The depth at safety is strong as well.
    2. Chargers: This may seem bold, but the switch of Flowers from KC to SD really solidified this spot for the Chargers. He gives them an above average starter on one side, meaning competition will be very heavy for the 2nd and 3rd spots. The way Wright played down the stretch, the introduction of Verrett, and the return of Steve Williams are all reasons for optimism. Eric Weddle continues to be one of the league's elite safeties. Strong safety, as ever, is the most questionable spot. But Marcus Gilchrist and Jahleel Addae both seemed to grow into the position in the 2nd half of the season, so hopefully progress continues. Darrell Stuckey is the perfect backup given his versatility and ST acumen.
    3. Raiders: Because D.J. Hayden was a surprise pick in 2013, people were unfairly quick to dismiss him as a bust when he struggled at times last season, as almost all rookie corners do. I thought he was the best talent at CB in the 2013 draft, and believe he'll be a good starter in time. To help him, Oakland has raided their bay area neighbors for Carlos Rogers and Tarell Brown-- neither are dominant, but both are solid and represent improvements over what the Raiders have been fielding recently. 4th rounder Keith McGill is a good developmental player to stash for the time being. At safety, Tyvon Branch isn't as good under Dennis Allen as he was previously but he's still a good starter. Charles Woodson, even at 37, isn't a liability.
    4. Chiefs: There was a lot of optimism coming into 2013 regarding the Chief's revamped secondary. Since then, Sean Smith has proved to be merely average, Dunta Robinson has been let go, and they were forced to part ways with Brandon Flowers for the sake of cap space. That means that the 2nd and 3rd corner spots are going to be up for grabs between rookie Philip Gaines, Chris Owens, Marcus Cooper, and another 1st year player in Sanders Comings. I'm foreseeing some major struggles. And while Eric Berry is one of the best safeties in the game on one side, they're arguably weaker across from him than they are at corner with Husain Abdullah slotted to start.
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  3. Fossil

    Fossil BoltTalker

    Jan 6, 2008
    Nice breakdown thanks. Flawed in that you didn't rate SD #1 in all categories, but nice breakdown nonetheless. :abq2:
    • Funny Funny x 1

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