The AFC West is loaded with firepower on offense, and the Las Vegas Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs dominate our preseason team.
The off-season is when each team in the NFL tries to get a leg up on the competition within their division. The Las Vegas Raiders made several moves this off-season to attempt to catch up to their rivals in the AFC West.
However, games must still be played before the fans can see just how far the Raiders have come. They plan to be in the mix for a playoff spot in 2020, and the overall talent on the roster is better than it has been in years.
This two-part series will focus on the best players in the division, and here, we start with our All-AFC West offense.
Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Fresh off a Super Bowl winning season, and two years removed from a record-breaking passing performance, the Chiefs signal caller is the toast of the NFL at the quarterback position. Patrick Mahomes will be a terror in the AFC West for years to come with his ability to make throws from any arm angle regardless if his feet are set or not.
As talented a pure passer as the NFL has ever seen, combined with an innovative Andy Reid offensive scheme, Mahomes has taken the NFL by storm. The Raiders have their work cut out for them containing a player of his caliber.
Josh Jacobs, Las Vegas Raiders
Even though 2019 was Josh Jacob's rookie year, he rose to the challenge and had a very good season even by veteran standards. The Raiders bell cow back led the AFC West in rushing attempts (242), yards (1150) and was second in touchdowns (7).
What makes these totals even more impressive is that Jacobs played half the season with a broken scapula in his shoulder. Despite the injury, Jacobs never relented in his physical approach to running through defenders.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends
Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
Keenan Allen is a consummate pro, a big bodied wide receiver who has mastered his craft. Allen's ability to manipulate defenders in coverage with his eyes and his feet is elite for the wide receiver position. In terms of production, he is the only player in the AFC West to have over 300 catches in the last three years.
Every team going up against the Chargers circles Allen's name on the scouting report, and defenses must account for his proficiency defeating multiple different types of coverage. His route running can be a serious problem for the cornerback who draws him in coverage.
Tyreek Hill, Kansas City Chiefs
Tyreek Hill has improved every aspect of his game in the last several years. From beating press coverage, to running routes, to winning at the catch-point, he has developed into a well-rounded wide receiver.
Hill is more than just a gadget player, and he has something that can't be taught: speed. The fastest ball carrier over the last four years in the NFL since Next Gen Stats started tracking miles per hour in 2016, Hill is the only NFL player to eclipse 23mph with the ball in his hands.
Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Sensing a theme here? Another one of the Chiefs' offensive weapons makes this list. Travis Kelce is an elite tight end in the NFL, and many believe he is the best in the league at his position. He is so savvy at finding empty spaces in the defense and has become the security blanket in the Chiefs offense.
Kelce's 283 catches and 23 touchdowns since 2017 are good for second place among AFC West pass catchers, and he's a tight end. Kelce can beat defensive backs with his physicality, or linebackers with his speed, making him quite the dangerous weapon.
Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders
In a tweet I put out, I choose Denver Broncos wide receiver Courtland Sutton as the third wideout in this group. However, football is all about getting the best 11 on the field, so we're gonna go with 12 personnel here (1 RB, 2 TE, 2 WR). That means we include Darren Waller into the mix, who is coming off of a great season, catching 90 passes for 1145 yards and 3 touchdowns in his first year as a starter.
The 6'6 250lb Waller is a former wide receiver who brings incredible size-speed ratio which makes him one of the more difficult match-ups in the NFL. He is just getting started, and with better weapons around him in 2020, he should be even more of an impact player for the Silver and Black.
Eric Fisher, Kansas City Chiefs
Oddly enough, the best tackles in the AFC West all play on the right side. I'm sure Von Miller (and Khalil Mack to some extent) has something to do with that. That being said, Eric Fisher wins the dubious distinction of being the best left tackle in the division.
He has started 98 games in his seven-year career, and perhaps he has never quite lived up to his first round billing back when he was the first overall pick in 2013. He was finally elected to his first Pro Bowl in 2018, which is more than the rest of the left tackles in the division can say.
Richie Incognito, Las Vegas Raiders
Richie Incognito came on like gangbusters last season for the Raiders in his return to the NFL after sitting out in 2018. A player who has defied age and mental health issues, football has provided Incognito with the structure and outlet that allows him to still be one of the better guards in football at 36 years old.
In 2019 Incognito had 5 blown blocks in 742 snaps, one of the best rates in the league according to Sports Info Solutions. He was well worth the gamble the Raiders took when they brought him back into the NFL.
Rodney Hudson, Las Vegas Raiders
This comes as a no-brainer to even the most casual Raiders fans. Rodney Hudson is an elite center in the NFL and certainly the best in the AFC West. He has become the anchor in the Raiders offensive line, helping direct blockers towards blitz calls and picking up stunts.
Hudson is known for his mental side of the game, of which he has no peer in football. He is also the best pass blocking center in the NFL by a comfortable margin, leading the NFL is pass blocking efficiency at the position for the last 5 seasons.
Ronald Leary, Denver Broncos
The Denver Broncos lone entry on the offensive side of the ball, Ronald Leary is known for being one of the better pass protecting guards in football. A solid performer during his eight-year career, Leary has played in 77 games.
Leary isn't the run blocker that say Gabe Jackson is, but he rarely gets beaten in pass protection. In a passing league, a quarterback driven league, his skill set is more premium, and frankly harder to come by.
Mitchell Schwartz, Kansas City Chiefs
This might raise some eyebrows across Raider Nation, who assumed that Trent Brown is the best right tackle in the division. They would be ignoring the greatness of Mitchell Schwartz, who has been the model of consistency and dominance during his All-Pro career. Schwartz has never missed a game in his eight-year career, totaling 128 starts.
Schwartz has been given high grades by various independent statistical services, as well as being voted 2nd team All-Pro three times, and first team all Pro once. Brown has a ways to go before he can be considered in the same echelon as Schwartz, namely staying healthy all season.
- Chiefs - 5
- Raiders - 4
- Chargers - 1
- Broncos - 1