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NFL Draft Aftermath: Winners and Losers from the AFC West

Ray

Denver Broncos

Pick #23, Shane Ray, DE
Pick #59, Ty Sambrailo, OT
Pick #92, Jeff Heuerman, TE
Pick #133, Max Garcia, C
Pick #164, Lorenzo Doss, CB
Pick #203, Darius Kilgo, DT
Pick #250, Trevor Siemian, QB
Pick #251, Taurean Nixon, CB
Pick #252, Josh Furman, LB

Draft Overview

Following his pre-draft arrest for possession of marijuana, defensive end Shane Ray was among the most polarizing players in terms of draft value. Denver ultimately determined he had fallen far enough and traded up five spots from the 28th pick to acquire him. If he can move past his toe injury, this could turn out to be one of the best value picks of the first round. The Ty Sambrailo and Max Garcia picks in the second and fourth round, respectively, look especially important after the Broncos lost left tackle Ryan Clady for the season and need to move bodies around the offensive line. Tight end Jeff Heuerman, with good speed and strong receiving skills, was the fourth tight end selected but tore his ACL the following week and will miss the entire year. Athletic but undersized Lorenzo Doss and slot corner Taurean Nixon join the secondary while Josh Furman has played both safety and linebacker. Defensive tackle Darius Kilgo was initially recruited as an upper-tier offensive lineman and played on both sides of the line in Maryland, but was selected as a run-blocker. Northwestern quarterback Trevor Siemian will battle Zac Dysert for the QB3 spot behind Peyton Manning and Brock Osweiler.

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Winners

With an injured tight end and developmental quarterback as the only offensive skill players selected, veteran running backs, wide receivers and tight ends can breathe a little easier. C.J. Anderson appears to have the edge as the lead running back, though Montee Ball, Ronnie Hillman and even Juwan Thompson could be in the mix for reps and do not need to worry about a rookie in camp. With the departure of Julius Thomas, the starting tight end job is up for grabs between Owen Daniels and Virgil Green. James Casey is in the conversation as well, but they don’t need to worry about Heuerman for another year. Cody Latimer is the clear WR3 behind Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders as the only new bodies (David Porter and Jordan Taylor) were signed as undrafted free agents.

Losers

Denver replaces two stars (Julius Thomas and Ryan Clady) with players at opposite ends of the age spectrum, neither of which are likely to perform as well as their predecessors, and did not acquire any running backs or receivers Peyton Manning will likely be throwing to in what could be his final season.

Kansas City Chiefs

Pick #18, Marcus Peters, CB
Pick #49, Mitch Morse, OG
Pick #76, Chris Conley, WR
Pick #98, Steven Nelson, CB
Pick #118, Ramik Wilson, LB
Pick #172, DJ Alexander, LB
Pick #173, James O’Shaughnessy, TE
Pick #217, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, DT
Pick #233, Da’Ron Brown, WR

Draft Overview

Based on talent alone, Marcus Peters may have been the best cornerback available in the draft. Of course, we know all too well what off-field issues can do to a player’s value, but Andy Reid and company did their research before selecting Peters 18th overall. Mitch Morse projects as an interior lineman, perhaps at center to eventually replace Rodney Hudson and wide receiver Chris Conley could push to be the starter opposite Jeremy Maclin this season. Kansas City went to the defensive side of the ball with four of their next five picks, adding Steven Nelson as depth to an already deep secondary, linebackers Ramik Wilson (who could challenge Josh Mauga for snaps) and DJ Alexander (who will likely contribute mostly on special teams), and defensive tackle Rakeem Nunez-Roches for depth along the line. Tight end James O’Shaughnessy has good speed for the position and has received some comparisons to teammate Travis Kelce, though a poor man’s version. Wide receiver Da’Ron Brown faces an uphill battle to even make the 53-man roster.

Winners

With De’Anthony Thomas working with the wide receivers in OTAs and no running backs drafted, the backup job feels a little more secure for Knile Davis despite his overall underwhelming production when given the opportunity. Although he lost Hudson to free agency, quarterback Alex Smith should be pleased with the acquisitions of Morse and Conley as two of the Chiefs’ top three picks. Hopefully he can get the ball downfield to help Conley live up to his potential.

Losers

Flashing in limited opportunity at the end of the 2014 season, Albert Wilson had the edge on the WR2 job leading up to the draft. Now, he will have to fend off a high draft pick as he battles a hamstring injury. He should be no worse than the third option on the depth chart, but even that spot holds little value in Kansas City. O’Shaughnessy further clouds the outlook for Demetrius Harris, an athletic tight end who gained sleeper steam last offseason.

Oakland Raiders

Pick #4, Amari Cooper, WR
Pick #35, Mario Edwards Jr., DE
Pick #68, Clive Walford, TE
Pick #128, Jon Feliciano, OG
Pick #140, Ben Heeney, ILB
Pick #161, Neiron Ball, OLB
Pick #179, Max Valles, ILB
Pick #218, Anthony Morris, OT
Pick #221, Andre Debose, WR
Pick #242, Dexter McDonald, CB

Draft Overview

Although some lobbied for Leonard Williams, it’s difficult to argue with the selection of wide receiver Amari Cooper as the fourth overall pick. Defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. has the pedigree, and though he was inconsistent and unproductive at Florida State has upside at a position of need for the Raiders. Tight end Clive Walford is strong at nearly all aspects of the game, though he doesn’t have the ceiling of an elite tight end. Offensive lineman Jon Feliciano is versatile but by all accounts a reach in the fourth round. With their three picks between 140 and 179 overall, the Raiders selected three linebackers who are likely to be nothing more than depth and special teams contributors. Offensive tackle Anthony Morris, wide receiver Andre Debose and cornerback Dexter McDonald are all fliers who likely won’t make the final roster.

Winners

Derek Carr must have been estatic to see the Raiders add Cooper and Walford in the first two days of the draft. Both could finish the season as Oakland’s top receiving targets at the position. The Raiders’ backfield became crowded through free agency with the additions of Roy Helu and Trent Richardson to incumbent Latavius Murray, though fantasy owners breathed a sign of relief that the much-rumored acquisition of Adrian Peterson never came to fruition. Michael Dyer was added as a free agent following the draft, but he feels like this year’s version of Colt Lyerla (a talented but troubled player unlikely to stick) and represents the only rookie who could challenge for a roster spot. Consequently, unless Richardson can surprise in the preseason, Murray and Helu should share duties and both be fantasy-relevant options.

Losers

The acquisition of Cooper (and Michael Crabtree to a lesser extent) has a ripple effect down the wide receiver depth chart. James Jones has already been released and the fantasy value of other rostered wide receivers (Rod Streater, Andre Holmes, Kenbrell Thompkins and Brice Butler) has become very cloudy, particularly when some passes are likely to go to Roy Helu, Mychal Rivera and Walford. Speaking of the latter two, Rivera sees his fantasy upside capped with the arrival of the more talented Walford.

San Diego Chargers

Pick #15, Melvin Gordon, RB
Pick #48, Denzel Perryman, ILB
Pick #83, Craig Mager, CB
Pick #153, Kyle Emanuel, OLB
Pick #192, Darius Philon, DT

Draft Overview

San Diego expected Houston would select Melvin Gordon, so they moved up two spots in the middle of the first round to secure him, trading away a fourth-round pick in 2015 and fifth-round pick in 2016 in the process. This left them with only four more picks in the draft, all of which they used on defensive players. They drafted inside linebacker Denzel Perryman in the second round, a very physical player who could lead the team to void the final four years of Donald Butler’s contract. Hard-hitting cornerback Craig Mager was likely a reach in the third round as he joins a crowded secondary. Kyle Emanuel has a great motor and could surprise as an outside linebacker, though he will likely start by contributing on special teams. Defensive tackle Darius Philon is raw but was effective in his two years in Arkansas.

Winners

Unlike free agency, when Stevie Johnson and Jacoby Jones were added to the wide receiver depth chart, the draft was kind to all receiving options for the Chargers. Dontrelle Inman and Austin Pettis are on the roster bubble, but only have undrafted rookies Titus Davis and Tyrell Williams as new competition. Antonio Gates is another year older and although Ladarius Green is as well, he remains the backup as he enters his contract year.

Losers

Melvin Gordon‘s presence is clearly a hit to every other running back on the roster, particularly Donald Brown as he was the only logical replacement for Ryan Mathews on first and second downs. Branden Oliver was effective from weeks four to six before his yards-per-carry dipped below 3.0 for the remainder of the season, and he is more effective as a third-down back. Whether 30-year-old Danny Woodhead can return from his injuries is still a question mark, but he will not have nearly as many opportunities with Gordon in town.

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