2017 NFL Draft: The AFC West Looks Better Than Ever

Mar 2, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio speaks to the media during the 2017 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 2, 2017; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Oakland Raiders coach Jack Del Rio speaks to the media during the 2017 NFL Combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports /

Day 2 of the 2017 NFL Draft is in the books, and it appears that the entire AFC West has grown stronger from top to bottom.

Heading into the NFL Draft, the Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers and the Kansas City Chiefs all had holes to fill. With Day 2 of the draft behind us, and it appears that all four teams have not only plugged holes, but have strengthened themselves considerably.

The Chiefs made some bold moves, one of which included trading up 17 picks to grab quarterback Patrick Mahomes out of Texas Tech in the first round. Being able to pair up someone of Mahomes’ ability with Andy Reid could be deadly. The Raiders may not have to face the conservative Alex Smith any longer, which is Mahomes can live up to his potential, is a very bad thing.

In the second round, the Chiefs drafted Tanoh Kpassagnon out of Villanova. Tanoh was a prospect that was gaining more and more steam as draft day neared, and seemed to be a either a second or third round prospect. Personally, I was not the biggest fan of Tanoh, but at the end of the day, it is another pass rusher that the Oakland offensive line will have to account for.

The Chiefs ended day two by taking Kareem Hunt out of Toledo. Being able to team Hunt up with Mahomes down the road could be very frightening. Considering Hunt’s running style and big play ability, this should be something all Raiders fans pay attention to. This Chiefs and Raiders rivalry just got even better.

The Chargers also made some interesting moves, which started with wide receiver Mike Williams out of Clemson. This pick really confused some, especially if you look back at the sea of talent that was available to the Chargers at the time.

In the second and third rounds, the Chargers were able to snag offensive lineman Forrest Lamp out of Western Kentucky and Dan Feeney out of Indiana. Both were top five prospects at their positions.

The interesting tidbit I took from here is that it appears that the Chargers are taking a page out of the Raiders’ book, by strengthening the interior of their offensive line. However, the Chargers still need to improve at tackle with pass rushers such as Khalil Mack, Bruce Irvin, Justin Houston and Von Miller in the division.

And finally, the Denver Broncos. John Elway and crew have been known for doing an exceptional job with their draft selections over the years. This year, the Broncos selected Garett Bolles out of Utah in the first round, DeMarcus Walker out of Florida State in the second and Carlos Henderson out of Louisiana Tech in the third round.

The pick that seemed to be a head-scratcher here would be DeMarcus Walker. Many were not high on Walker, and although the Broncos needed to shore up the middle of their defense, Walker did not seem to be the right guy for them. I’m sure the rest of the division will not mind that selection one bit. Both Bolles and Henderson seem to be solid picks, and it could strengthen a rather pedestrian offense.

There were some clear power moves made here by the division rival teams, but when you look at what the Raiders were able to add during the draft, Raider Nation should be quite excited.

The Raiders added three total prospects so far — Gareon Conley, Obi Melifonwu, and Eddie Vanderdoes. All three players should be instant impact players going into 2017. Conley appears to be the slot cornerback for now, when you consider the versatility that Conley was able to display during his time at Ohio State.

Obi (who I am a huge fan of) will most likely fill either the free or strong safety position, which means he will probably sooner or later take that role away from Reggie Nelson. If anyone actually watched Nelson last season, you will know that he needed to be replaced sooner rather than later. Big ups to Reggie McKenzie for taking a safety early. Five years from now, Obi could be one of the ten to fifteen best players from the 2017 draft.

The Raiders ended day two by taking Vanderdoes out of UCLA. While this pick got the least amount of buzz, Raider Nation should be ecstatic about Vanderdoes. Being in a rotation with Mario Edwards Jr., Darius Latham and Justin Ellis, will provide the Raiders with a formidable front. This could be the missing piece to help this porous Raiders pass rush.

The AFC West just got a whole lot more difficult, and you can bet that the Raiders will be in a dog fight for the division title this upcoming season. Every division matchup will be oh so crucial to the Raiders success, and you can be assured the Raiders will be looking to go better than 3-3 like they did in 2016.

There are still four more rounds to go, and there is still a ton of talent left on the board for the Raiders. As of right now, linebacker and possibly an extra offensive lineman should be the Raiders’ priorities. Raiders fans should pay attention to day three because as you know, Reggie McKenzie has been able to scrap some talent in the later rounds.