Road to Super Bowl 53: AFC West Preview

Settling in for the quiet summer before ramping up for training camp in less than a month, teams are readying to set their sights on the intense ‘Road to Super Bowl 53’ in Atlanta in 2019. Next up in our divisional previews is the always competitive and parity-driven AFC West.

Kansas City Chiefs

2017 Record: 10-6, AFC West Champions

Normally, you wouldn’t expect a team that got out to a 5-0 start on the 2017 NFL season and had an MVP-caliber quarterback at the helm to make too many changes. The 2017 AFC West champion Kansas City Chiefs, however, are an exception to that rule.

After finishing the season at 10-6, the Chiefs decided it was time to shake things up. The team shipped quarterback Alex Smith to the Washington Redskins in exchange for defensive back Kendall Fuller and a draft pick, opening the door for now-sophomore quarterback Patrick Mahomes to take the reins. And it wasn’t just the quarterbacking position that saw a dramatic makeover. The Chiefs also added two of the biggest prizes of the 2018 free agency period in wide receiver Sammy Watkins and linebacker Anthony Hitchens as well.
 


 

Los Angeles Chargers

2017 Record: 9-7

One of the more mediocre teams of the 2017 NFL season, the LA Chargers finished their first season back in the city of angels at just two games over .500, and followed it up with a relatively quiet offseason. Getting a steal in rookie safety Derwin James out of Florida State with the #17 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft was what could be considered the highlight of the transactional period. Aside from James, the team was able to help fortify their offensive line by bringing in former Pro Bowl center Mike Pouncey, as well as a new target for quarterback Philip Rivers in tight end Virgil Green.
 


 

Oakland Raiders

2017 Record: 6-10

After a disappointing 6-10 campaign, just a year removed from winning the AFC West and being a top-tier team in the AFC, the Raiders decided to shake things up when it came to the coaching staff. Enter; former Raiders head coach (and Super Bowl champion) Jon Gruden.

While many thought the Raiders would have an ‘all-out’ approach to free agency and the draft thanks to the returned presence of Gruden, that wasn’t the case for the Raiders. The Raiders weren’t short on moves, but it was the lack of ‘star power’ that surprised many. The team drafted offensive lineman Kolton Miller out of UCLA with their first-round pick, and brought in solid position players such as Rashaan Melvin (DB), Doug Martin (RB), Martavis Bryant (WR), Reggie Nelson (S) and their prized pickup, Jordy Nelson (WR).
 


 

Denver Broncos

2017 Record: 5-11

An offseason of turmoil and speculation followed the Broncos after their disappointing 5-11 campaign in 2017. Following the retirement of quarterback Peyton Manning, the team has struggled to provide an offensive presence at the quarterback position… something the Broncos believe they have solved in the 2018 offseason.

The Broncos signed former Minnesota Vikings quarterback (and 2017 standout) Case Keenum to take the reins as the team’s new quarterback. Keenum helped lead the Vikings to a 13-3 record and the #2 seed in the NFC, featuring an NFC Championship loss to the eventual-Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles.

Aside from Keenum, Broncos fans are feeling optimistic, as the team was also able to grab arguably the best player in the 2018 NFL Draft in edge rusher Bradley Chubb, pairing him alongside the already-daunting Von Miller.

 


 

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2018 NFL Expert Mock Draft: Picks 16-20

As teams get set for the month of April, the next step on the journey toward Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta involves invigorating the team’s rosters with an infusion of youth; the 2018 NFL Draft. We’re gathering some of the top experts from around the NFL world and taking a look at who they predict will go where, continuing with picks 16-20.

 

#16: Baltimore Ravens

CBS Sports: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech | Bleacher Report, NFL.com: Calvin Ridley, WR, Alabama

 
“The Ravens get a great value here in Edmunds, who doesn’t turn 20 until after the draft and has as much upside as any prospect this year. He’s scheme versatile and should be an interesting chess piece for the Ravens’ defense, someone who can line up next to C.J. Mosley inside or potentially be groomed to take over for Terrell Suggs down the road.” – R.J. White, CBS Sports


 

#17: Los Angeles Chargers

CBS Sports: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama | Bleacher Report: Connor Williams, OT, Texas | NFL.com: Lamar Jackson, QB, Louisville

 
“The first offensive tackle comes off the board at pick No. 17, and he’s an excellent fit and value for the Los Angeles Chargers. An aggressive 2017 draft and the signing of Mike Pouncey has the line in good shape for this year, but the future needs addressing, and Williams can be that left tackle of the present and long-term plan.” – Matt Miller, Bleacher Report


 

#18: Seattle Seahawks

CBS Sports, NFL.com: Will Hernandez, G, UTEP | Bleacher Report: Derwin James, S, Florida State

 
“With the loss of DT Sheldon Richardson in free agency, and an obvious rebuild needed on that side of the ball, a pick to help the D makes sense. But, it also makes sense to do more to take care of the team’s No. 1 asset, QB Russell Wilson.” – Charles Davis, NFL.com


 

#19: Dallas Cowboys

CBS Sports: Leighton Vander Esch, LB, Boise State | Bleacher Report: Rashaan Evans, LB, Alabama | NFL.com: Mike Hughes, DB, UCF

 
“Defense, defense, defense. That’s how the Cowboys’ draft board should read with a wide receiver and offensive guard sprinkled in along the way. Rashaan Evans can do it all—NFL clubs have asked him to play outside linebacker or edge-rusher. In Dallas, he’s a natural to replace departed free agent Anthony Hitchens and adds youth and speed to a defense that’s being rebuilt well through the draft.” –  Matt Miller, Bleacher Report


 

#20: Detroit Lions

CBS Sports: Josh Jackson, DB, Iowa | Bleacher Report: Harold Landry, EDGE, Boston College | NFL.com: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

 
“The Lions re-signed Nevin Lawson and brought in Deshawn Shead, but neither should prevent them from selecting a potential starter at the position across from Darius Slay should the right opportunity present itself. Matt Patricia gets a ballhawk with this pick who led the nation in interceptions last year.” – R.J. White, CBS Sports

To see full mock drafts:

For Matt Miller and Bleacher Report’s full 2018 NFL Mock Draft, click here.

For Charles Davis and NFL.com’s full 2018 Mock Draft, click here.

For R.J. White and CBS Sports’ full 2018 NFL Mock Draft, click here.

 


 

Looking for travel packages, tickets and information for Super Bowl 53, including the 2019 Players Tailgate, the #1 Super Bowl weekend event?

Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta | Travel Packages

2017 Expert NFL Mock Draft (#6-10)

As we embark on the month of April, teams are beginning to focus on the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. A look at the expert predictions for picks #6 through #10.

#6: New York Jets

CBS Sports: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson | Bleacher Report: Marshon Lattimore, DB, Ohio State | MMQB: Marlon Humphrey, DB, Alabama

“We feel like we’ve seen this movie before (hi, Geno Smith!) inasmuch as the Jets took a flier on a physically gifted quarterback who needed a few years to grow into the position. It never happened with Smith, and the Geno era is officially over. Watson is better than Smith at this point in his career, but he shouldn’t be rushed onto the field. If the Jets can be patient, Watson could be worth the gamble.” – Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports

#7: Los Angeles Chargers

CBS Sports, Bleacher Report: Malik Hooker, S, Ohio State | MMQB: Jamal Adams, S, LSU

“Pick No. 7 overall is too soon for the Los Angeles Chargers to start thinking about a future replacement for Philip Rivers. It’s not too early to add a playmaking free safety to fill the hole Eric Weddle left when he went to Baltimore in free agency last year.” – Matt Miller, Bleacher Report

#8: Carolina Panthers

CBS Sports, MMQB: Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU | Bleacher Report: Quincy Wilson, CB, Florida | 

“Cam Newton had an off year, and Carolina needs to buttress its offensive line to ensure that doesn’t happen again. It’s too high to take an O-lineman here, but not too high to take a runner—if it’s a once-in-a-generation talent like Fournette. The LSU star could also alleviate some pressure on Newton as the Panthers look to reclaim a balanced offense and regain form in the NFC South.” – Emily Kaplan, MMQB

#9: Cincinnati Bengals

CBS Sports: Corey Davis, WR, Western Michigan | Bleacher Report: Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama | MMQB: Derek Barnett, DL, Tennessee

“The Bengals drafted Tyler Boyd last year, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the loss of Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones, who had great 2016 seasons in Atlanta and Detroit. Corey Davis (6-3, 209) and he would immediately upgrade a passing offense that already includes A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and Boyd.” – Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports

#10: Buffalo Bills

CBS Sports: Mike Williams, WR, Clemson | Bleacher Report, MMQB: Deshaun Watson, QB, Clemson | 

“Deshaun Watson has his warts as a prospect, but every quarterback in this class does. With Watson, you at least know you’re getting a poised passer with some dual-threat skills and an excellent leader. He’ll need some time to fully develop and learn an NFL offense, but he’s not far behind Jared Goff or Paxton Lynch in terms of developmental needs. His arm strength isn’t amazing, but offensive coordinator Rick Dennison doesn’t need a cannon back there. He needs touch, timing and anticipation. Watson has all those tools.” – Matt Miller, Bleacher Report

Full 2017 NFL Draft 1st-Round Mock Drafts.

For Ryan Wilson’s CBS Sports mock draft, click here.

For Matt Miller’s Bleacher Report mock draft, click here.

For Emily Kaplan’s MMQB mock draft, click here.

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