NFL Draft Class Recaps - AFC West

Updated: Sep 6

By Aaron Ussery


Denver Broncos

Round 2, Pick 64 - Nik Bonitto, EDGE, Oklahoma

Bonitto is a hyper-quick pass rushing EDGE with limited play strength. He's unlikely to beat out either Bradley Chubb or Randy Gregory for a starting role, but his twitch and bend should allow him to affect opposing QBs as a rotational piece along the likes of Jonathan Cooper and and Malik Reed.


Round 3, Pick 80 - Greg Dulcich, TE, UCLA

Noah Fant was, of course, one of the players traded away in the deal for Russell Wilson. So it makes perfect sense that the Broncos would try and find a similar type of pass catching tight end to replace him. He was commonly used out of the slot as a size mismatch for smaller CBs, and the 6'4" 240 lbs Dulcich can slide right into that exact same type of role. I project him to push Albert Okwuegbunam for the starting TE job right off the bat.


Round 4, Pick 115 - Damarri Mathis, CB, Pittsburgh

Mathis was one of the most under appreciated players in this class in my opinion, possessing starting potential thanks to his physicality and superior ball-production. He can suffer from some Marcus Peters syndrome, getting manipulated on double moves due to his overly-aggressive play style, but he can come away with enough turnovers to make up for it. Ronald Darby has an out on his current deal following the 2022 season, so Mathis has a chance to prove himself as a long-term starter opposite of Patrick Surtain II.


Round 4, Pick 116 - Eyioma Uwazurike, IDL, Iowa State

The second of two back-to-back selections for Denver, Uwazurike was a late-round prospect I highlighted in an earlier article this offseason. He is long and powerful with some devastating rip and swim moves for a DT, and has a chance to push names like Deshawn Williams and McTelvin Agim for the starting role vacated by Shelby Harris.


Round 5, Pick 152 - Delarrin Turner-Yell, S, Oklahoma

Between this pick and the selections of both Caden Sterns and Jamar Johnson last year, the Broncos are clearly taking a "spaghetti at the wall" approach to finding Kareem Jackson's eventual replacement. The 12-year vet was resigned to another one-year deal this offseason, but he can't keep going forever. Turner-Yell is a similar player, projecting as a aggressive downhill box safety despite possessing a CB build. He'll likely need to make an impact on special teams to make an impact as a rookie, however.


Round 5, Pick 162 - Montrell Washington, WR, Samford

A bit of a surprise pick, Washington was projected by most as a 7th round/UDFA type. He's undersized, at 5'8" and only 180 lbs, but his value in the league is likely to come as a return specialist. Currently, the famous Kendall Hinton is listed as the Broncos returner - but his experience doing so in the NFL is limited. Washington most notably totaled 180 return yards in a single game against Florida during the 2021 season. If he can do that against SEC level athletes, there's little reason to think he can't make a similar impact in the NFL.


Round 5, Pick 171 - Luke Wattenberg, IOL, Washington

Wattenberg actually finished with the second highest RAS score amongst all C prospects in the class, behind only Cam Jurgens and Dawson Deaton. His tape at UW was inconsistent, but many Husky fans will point the finger at O-Line coach Scott Huff. The center position is likely to be an open competition for Denver, as Lloyd Cushenberry has failed to impress thus far and the team may like Quinn Meinerz more as a guard. There's an outside chance that Wattenberg's physical gifts can earn him starting reps if he takes well to Butch Berry's coaching.


Round 6, Pick 206 - Matt Henningsen, IDL, Wisconsin

Henningsen, like Wattenberg, is another hyper-athletic trench player. He possesses nearly every physical trait you'd want from a pass-rushing 3-Tech type, but his on field impact at Wisconsin never quite developed in the way you'd like to see from a guy with his skillset. The D-Line is awfully crowded in Denver right now, but Henningsen's explosiveness and size could help him stand out. If not, he's likely a priority practice squad candidate for the team.


Round 7, Pick 232 - Faion Hicks, CB, Wisconsin

The second of two straight Wisconsin players, Hicks provides another body to the CB room. He really stood out at the Wisconsin pro day, showing out with a 4.38 40 yard dash and a 6.78 3 cone time. He's a loose, fluid player who likely will be competing with Essang Bassey for the backup nickel corner spot behind K'Wuan Williams.

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Kansas City Chiefs

Round 1, Pick 21 - Trent McDuffie, CB, Washington

McDuffie likely slots right in as the team's starting outside corner, but possesses a versatile skillset that could translate to other duties as well. Obviously Tyrann Mathieu is no longer in the building, and McDuffie comes with a similar physical profile, similar on-field attitude, and similar tackling ability. He can likely lineup just about everywhere from outside to nickel to even some light box duties, providing DC Steve Spagnuolo with the kind of playcalling flexibility that he likes to have.


Round 1, Pick 30 - George Karlaftis, EDGE, Purdue

Karlaftis is exactly the type of EDGE the Chiefs love. He's a true base end with elite run-stuffing ability and a high pass rushing floor (I think of him as a solid 8 sacks a year sort of guy). This is almost certainly Frank Clark's final year with the team, and I think the odds are good for Karlaftis to take over as their main outside pass rusher following his departure (maybe even sooner than that).


Round 2, Pick 54 - Skyy Moore, WR, Western Michigan

I think this fit is fairly straightforward, yeah? Obviously Tyreek Hill is no longer in the mix, which left a gaping hole in the offense. Nobody has Hill's speed, but Moore's 4.41 40 time will play just fine in the NFL. Even if he isn't asked to be the same type of deep threat, I think Andy Reid will scheme up looks to get Moore the ball in space where he can utilize his physicality after the catch.


Round 2, Pick 62 - Bryan Cook, S, Cincinnati

Cook is a smart, technically sound safety with good size and speed. He likely fits more as a third-safety type behind starters Justin Reid and Juan Thornhill, but certainly offers a good insurance policy in the event that either player gets hurt (Thornhill in particular has struggled with staying on the field). Look for him to be something of a more athletic Daniel Sorenson.


Round 3, Pick 103 - Leo Chenal, LB, Wisconsin

Chenal has a chance to do some great things in Spags' defense. He is hyper-aggressive and lived in opposing backfields during his time as Wisconsin. Spagnuolo loves to get creative with LB blitz packages, and Chenal's aggression and downhill closing speed will be a great fit. When Kansas City wants to go with three linebacker packages, I see Chenal slotting in as the starting SAM LB alongside Nick Bolton at MIKE and Willie Gay at WILL.


Round 4, Pick 135 - Joshua Williams, CB, Fayetteville State

Williams, similar to the likes of Tariq Woolen and Zyon McCollum, is a traits-based CB prospect with the potential to grow into a plus-level starter with the right coaching. Both Mike Hughes and Charvarius Ward are gone, leaving plenty of room for Williams to stick on the roster as a developmental depth piece.


Round 5, Pick 145 - Darian Kinnard, OT, Kentucky

Kinnard was great value for KC here in the fifth round, as many saw him as a Day 2 pick. He performed well in one-on-one matchups with Jermaine Johnson at the Senior Bowl in January. Right tackle is the one spot on KC's O-Line that remain unsettled, and Kinnard is more than talented enough to win that job over Lucas Niang.


Round 7, Pick 243 - Jaylen Watson, CB, Washington State

Watson, like Williams, is another big press-man corner prospect with plus-level athletic traits. This is exactly the type of CB who the Chiefs covet, showcasing great physicality and not being afraid to get "grabby" with receivers. Flags may be an issue for him, but that's never been something that's bothered Steve Spagnuolo before.


Round 7, Pick 251 - Isaih Pacheco, RB, Rutgers

Pacheco is a compact, aggressive runner with excellent short area quickness and breakaway speed. His worst sin is a lack of patience, as he sometimes runs directly into contact -- however, once glance at Rutgers' offensive line last season and you find it hard to tell if that's really Pacheco's fault. With the way Kansas City's O-Line can run block, Pacheco could make a strong impact as a rookie. All he needs is a crease, and he's gone. I think there's a serious chance he pushes CEH and Ronald Jones for starting reps as a rookie.


Round 7, 259 - Nazeeh Johnson, S, Marshall

Johnson is another "defensive back" type (as opposed to a true CB or S), similar to McDuffie. He could fill a similar role in the defense in an emergency -- but his instincts are still a work in progress. He can be a solid special teams player due to his leadership (he was a 2 time team captain at Marshall) and explosiveness (4.35 40 with a 1.59 10 yard split). I think he sticks on the roster as the team's fifth safety.

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Las Vegas Raiders


Round 3, Pick 90 - Dylan Parham, IOL, Memphis

Even here in the late third, the Raiders may have managed to land a starting player with their first pick of the draft. Parham is a high-caliber athlete with the ability to play either center or guard, two spots where Vegas could use an improvement. I like him best as a center, where I think he could easily beat out Andre James for the starting job (James was a Gruden/Mayock guy who the current regime of Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler have no real commitment to).


Round 4, Pick 122 - Zamir White, RB, Georgia

It's not a coincidence that White was taken the day after Vegas opted not to use the fifth-year extension for RB Josh Jacobs. The 'Bama product has been a good starter in the NFL, but McDaniels and Ziegler likely don't subscribe to the philosophy of paying veteran RBs. White has the physical skillset of an NFL starter, despite a lack of production and somewhat concerning injury history while at Georgia. The plan is likely to see what he can do in 2022, and give him the nod in 2023 if all goes well.


Round 4, Pick 126 - Neil Farrell, IDL, LSU

Farrell is true run-stuffing nose tackle, and that's pretty much all he'll be asked to do for the Raiders. He carries his 340 lbs very well in a 6'4" frame, and possesses excellent quickness and power directly off the snap. Johnathan Hankins resigned with the team this offseason, but he's hit age 30 and Farrell is likely seen as his long-term replacement.


Round 5, Pick 175 - Matthew Butler, IDL, Tennessee

More reinforcements for the interior D-Line, a true New England-style approach from GM Dave Ziegler. Butler is a good complement to Farrell, projecting as a pass-rushing 3-Tech who can easily challenge Vernon Butler and Andrew Billings for early snaps. The IDL cupboard was bare for Vegas prior to the draft, so using two selections to add bodies here makes a lot of sense.


Round 7, Pick 238 - Thayer Muford, IOL, Ohio State

The three IOL spots should all be up for grabs, so drafting Munford to add to the competition there is a smart call. He has some positional flexibility as a former OT for the Buckeyes, but likely will slot in as a backup guard for the Raiders.


Round 7, Pick 250 - Brittain Brown, RB, UCLA

Brown figures to add to the competition at RB. In addition to declining Josh Jacob's fifth-year option, Kenyan Drake, Ameer Abdullah, and Brandon Bolden are all unlikely to be with the team in 2023 as well. McDaniels values having a deep RB stable, so planning for the future here is right in his wheelhouse.

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Los Angeles Chargers


Round 1, Pick 17 - Zion Johnson, IOL, Boston College

Johnson was seen as one of the safest picks in the draft, projecting as a starting guard from Day 1. That's exactly what he figures to do for the Chargers, slotting in at the right guard position and helping shore up that side of the line while the team figures out their solution at right tackle.


Round 3, Pick 79 - JT Woods, S, Baylor

Jalen Pitre's running mate in Dave Aranda's secondary, Woods often patrolled the deep hashes while Pitre played more nickel and box assignments. HC Brandon Staley loves using three safety looks, and with Woods now in the fold alongside Nasir Adderley he'll have two rangy ballhawks he can play deep while allowing Derwin James to prowl around more in the slot and in the box. This is a pick that can help this defense evolve into more of what Staley envisions.


Round 4, Pick 123 - Isaiah Spiller, RB, Texas A&M

Finding Austin Ekeler a running mate with some size and power has clearly been a goal for GM Tom Telesco for awhile now, as Spiller joins 2020 pick Joshua Kelley and 2021 pick Larry Roundtree as recent backfield additions. Spiller's tape is far superior to that of Kelley and Roundtree, and he's likely to have an inside track to be the team's main RB2.


Round 5, Pick 160 - Otito Ogbonnia, IDL, UCLA

Staley made it clear he wanted to patch up the defensive line this offseason, and the additions of Khalil Mack, Sebastian Joseph-Day, and Austin Johnson already went a long way towards doing so. Ogbonnia joins the fold as another sturdy nose tackle tape, helping the team boost its depth at a position that gave them a lot of trouble in 2021.


Round 6, Pick 195 - Jamaree Salyer, IOL, Georgia

Salyer was a surprising fall, as many pegged him to be a Day 2 pick. Even with the Zion selection, adding more depth to the IOL was necessary, as Ryan Hunter was projected to be the primary backup to LG Matt Feiler (I don't know who Ryan Hunter is either). Teams ultimately were concerned with Salyer's lack of length, but his tape as a LT for the Bulldogs was really impressive. If he can live up to what most media scouts saw, then the team may have landed two starting guards in this draft (which could allow them to kick Feiler out to RT).


Round 6, Pick 214 - Ja'Sir Taylor, CB, Wake Forest

Taylor has the speed and fluidity you want from an NFL CB, but his tape is a bit messy. He's very aggressive and has great route anticipation -- which led to a high number of turnovers while at Wake Forest. He looks like a project for Staley, who has a strong history of turning late round corners into starting caliber players (ie. Darious Williams for the Rams). Taylor also comes with kick return ability, something the Chargers could be looking for in 2023 after DeAndre Carter's one-year deal expires.


Round 7, Pick 236 - Deane Leonard, CB, Ole Miss

You could copy-paste a lot of what I said about Taylor to Leonard. He's another high-end athlete with some good instincts on tape, but lacks the same history of ball production as Taylor. The CB room needed an injection of depth behind JC Jackson, Asante Samuel, and Michael Davis -- so it makes sense that the team opted to double down at the position in the late rounds of the draft.


Round 7, Pick 260 - Zander Horvath, FB/TE, Purdue

A pick that may have some raising their eyebrows, Horvath is an H-Back sort of player who shows some good twitch with the ball in his hands but primarily thrives as a lead blocker. Former TE Stephen Anderson was employed by the Chargers in a hybrid TE/FB role while also contributing on special teams. Horvath can do the same, and could very likely push current FB Gabe Nabers off the roster.

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