When it comes to the NFL, most teams understand that drafting isn’t simply an exercise in adding talent to the roster. In many cases teams will draft in order to keep up with the division foes. Those six games a year are the most important of any on the schedule. Being able to match the personnel on your roster to the strengths of your division opponents and their strengths as well is a must. The 2013 NFL draft was no exception.
The AFC West is wide open. All four teams in division have a shot with a great offseason to, if not compete for the AFC West crown, at minimum fight for a wild card spot. With that you saw all four teams make moves to try and improve their teams for the upcoming season. I expect to see many of these players contributing right away.
Denver Broncos – The Broncos were the stars of the AFC West last season. After bringing in future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning, you could see the team was on the right track. This draft they addressed their primary needs of adding a massive defensive tackle in Sylvester Williams from North Carolina and a 3-down running back in Wisconsin‘s Montee Ball. Both can be impact players in a hurry and should return dividends. Later in the draft the Broncos brought in depth at wide receiver and offensive tackle, and even a developmental quarterback.
Sleeper pick - Quanterus Smith, DE Western Kentucky. The Broncos need to add a pass rusher for this upcoming season, and with Smith they got one. He is coming off an ACL injury so the start of his season could be in question, but make no mistake at full health, there are few defense ends in this draft with a better set of pass rush moves.
Kansas City Chiefs – Having he top overall pick means a team should get a real impact player and the Chiefs did that with Central Michigan offensive tackle Eric Fisher. He’s plug and play for 10 years at either left or right tackle. The Chiefs’ second round pick, Cincinnati tight end Travis Kelce, is a bit of a wildcard due to some off field stuff, but in terms of talent there might not be a better all around tight end in the draft. The rest of the draft was interesting if not spectacular, and several picks are questionable.
Sleeper pick – Knile Davis, RB Arkansas – Davis going in the top 100 was a bit of a shock because you have to go back to his sophomore film to see what he’s capable of, but there’s no doubt he can play. The key is if Davis can cure his severe fumbling concerns. If not, he’ll never get traction in the league.
Oakland Raiders – If there’s something we can always count on, it’s that the Raiders will do something wacky. This season it was drafting Houston cornerback DJ Hayden in the first round where no one but the Raiders had him. Hayden is a nice player, but is he a top half of the first round kind of player? I lean no. Then the Raiders took project offensive tackle Menelik Watson from Florida state in the second. Another player I would have graded much lower who likely won’t see the field as a rookie. The rest of the draft were role player types with an emphasis on offense.
Sleeper pick - Tyler Wilson, QB Arkansas – The Raiders needed a quarterback and for my money got one of the most interesting in the entire draft in the 4th round with Wilson. You have to throw away the 2012 tape and go back to watch 2011 to see that Wilson has definite starter potential and an NFL caliber skill set.
San Diego Chargers – Going into this draft, the needs of the Chargers were clear. They had to upgrade the offensive line and improve the wide receivers and linebackers. They were able to all of these with their top three picks. All the attention is on Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o, but it might be Cal wide receiver Keenan Allen who has the greatest impact. The rest of the draft focused on some solid defensive reserves.
Sleeper pick - Brad Sorensen, QB Southern Utah - Sorensen is a fascinating prospect because he has all the tools to be a great NFL quarterback, but is very limited in meaningful experience against top players. His development could be key.