AFC West Team Needs Heading into Free Agency and the 2023 NFL Draft
By - Leo Sells
The AFC West is undoubtedly one of the best divisions in the NFL, with the Chiefs reigning as the Super-Bowl Champions and the Chargers set to be in perennial playoff contention. It could become the undisputed best division in football if a couple of the bottom-feeder teams take a step up for next season, and today, we’ll be looking at needs each team has that they can address to improve for 2023.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS TEAM NEEDS
Offensive Tackle - The interior of the offensive line is held down by Creed Humphrey, Joe Thuney, and Trey Smith, but they need a lot of help at the tackle position. This is especially true with LT Orlando Brown Jr. set to hit free agency this year.
Defensive End - The edge isn’t necessarily a position of weakness for the Chiefs, but it could still use a lot of improvement. George Karlaftis is a solid young player, but he isn’t anything special yet and hasn’t been an absolute difference-maker. Frank Clark and Carlos Dunlap have also played well at various points in the season. The team could be looking to move off of one or both of them this off-season, however, and they will need some young talent to fill the void on the edge.
Wide Receiver - Kadarius Toney was a nice mid-season addition to help this team make a push for the Super Bowl, but they will still need to look for more help in the off-season. JuJu Smith-Schuster is a free agent and could find another team, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling was less effective than most had hoped he’d be. Skyy Moore had a fine rookie year, but this team could stand to surround Patrick Mahomes with some more young talent for next season.
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS TEAM NEEDS
Wide Receiver - The lack of speed and youth in the Chargers’ skill position players this year was a real issue. Justin Herbert is one of the best young quarterbacks in all of football, but he can’t be expected to do much when his receivers barely get open and can’t create separation down the field. Our latest mock has the team picking USC’s Jordan Addison, who’s speed and versatility would be an instant energizer for a slow Chargers’ offense.
Linebacker - The Chargers used a first-round pick on LB Kenneth Murray in the 2020 draft, but they still need lots of help at the position. He’s been solid enough, but more talent is needed to elevate this group from poor to decent. A versatile backer like Trenton Simpson or Drew Sanders could reasonably be available at pick 21 and would fill a major position of need on this underwhelming defense.
Offensive Line - Their offensive line isn’t terrible by any means, but it needs work. Rashawn Slater is great when healthy, and the Chargers can make this a solid unit by adding another effective player at OG or RT either in the draft or in free agency.
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS TEAM NEEDS
Quarterback - This is obviously the most pressing need for the team with Derek Carr now out of town. The Raiders could look to trade for a veteran like Aaron Rodgers or Lamar Jackson, but their rebuild would be better suited with a young quarterback at the helm.
Cornerback - The Raiders have had problems in their secondary for multiple years now. This seems to be the main issue on their defense, and they need to actually invest some real capital into a couple young players who can lead this unit for years to come.
Offensive Line - The Alex Leatherwood pick set the Raiders’ offensive line back a few years, and it’s still a major issue for them. It’s unclear who the quarterback will be in Las Vegas next year, but whoever it is will need to stay upright long enough to get the ball out if they want any success. Our latest mock had the team selecting Broderick Jones, who grades out as one of the best offensive line prospects in the class this year.
DENVER BRONCOS TEAM NEEDS
Offensive Line - This team needs help all over the line, so they can’t really go wrong with wherever they choose to add talent. Unfortunately for them, they don’t have much capital to invest for 2023, so this unit might be one that suffers next season as well.
Defensive End - Bradley Chubb was traded away for a first-round pick before the trade deadline last season, and there has been a gaping hole at edge for the team ever since then. They’ll need somebody that can contribute on day one if they want to compete next season, so they may be better suited looking to free agency for a fix.
Defensive Tackle - Another position of need for the Broncos in the trenches. Their current group of defensive tackles is underwhelming at best, and while it’s not the highest priority, it’s still a questionable position that will need answers before the season. With a later pick, the Broncos could draft somebody like Mazi Smith or Gervon Dexter Sr. to help solidify this unit for the future.