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2023 NFL Draft Recap: AFC West Grades

A division run by the Chiefs, have any AFC West teams managed to close the gap on Mahomes and Reid? Time for AFC West Draft Grades.

Denver Broncos | Draft Grade: B+

  • 2.063 | Marvin Mims, Oklahoma, WR
  • 3.067 | Drew Sanders, Arkansas, LB
  • 3.083 | Riley Moss, Iowa, DB
  • 6.183 | JL Skinner, Boise State, SAF
  • 7.257 | Alex Forsyth, Oregon, iOL

Dynasty Impact

Still operating with limited draft resources following the Russell Wilson trade, a well-executed draft by the Mile High front office. While the latter part of the draft contains little dynasty impact, Denver’s top selection of Marvin Mims should peak interest in dynasty leagues. A consistent riser throughout the pre-draft process, Mims has incredible vertical speed, clocking a 4.38 forty at the NFL Combine. The play speed matches the testing. However, the competitiveness and ball skills do not mirror the size profile. Despite being undersized, Mims is outstanding in contested catch and “my-ball” situations.

Brought in as insurance on the role envisioned last year for KJ Hamler, Mims will get an opportunity at snaps in 2023. While target competition lies ahead for the former Sooner, ascending beyond Hamler seems likely in 2023. With Courtland Sutton’s and Jerry Jeudy’s futures in Denver uncertain, steady play as a rookie almost certainly will appreciate Mims’ value. For superflex leagues, he should not slip out of the second round.

Best Value

A top-100 rated player for me, the Broncos take a raw but toolsy player in JL Skinner. At 6’4”, 209 lbs., Skinner profiles best as a box safety. However, the most compelling aspect of his film evaluation for me was the frequency he was assigned to play deep thirds and the competency with which he did it. With good lower body flexibility and change-of-direction skills for his size, I see a more versatile and unique defender than sixth-round capital would indicate. Improvement in eye discipline and footwork are still needed, but even if development doesn’t reach starter level, Denver gets length and athleticism immediately applicable to special teams.

Biggest Reach

Good resource management in 2023 for Denver, reflected by a strong grade for a class with only five picks and no first-rounder. The pick delta for my board and Denver’s eventual selection only went into the negative once. Marvin Mims got “over-drafted” by five spots, according to my top 350, and after that, I considered every player a value. Should I do it? Yeah, why not? Broncos Country, Let’s Ride!

Las Vegas Raiders | Draft Grade: B

  • 1.007 | Tyree Wilson, Texas Tech, DE
  • 2.035 | Michael Mayer, Notre Dame, TE
  • 3.070 | Byron Young, Alabama, DT
  • 3.100 | Tre Tucker, Cincinnati, WR
  • 4.104 | Jakorian Bennett, Maryland, CB
  • 4.135 | Aidan O’Connell, Purdue, QB
  • 5.170 | Christopher Smith II, Georgia, SAF
  • 6.203 | Amari Burney, Florida, LB
  • 7.231 | Nesta Jade Silvera, Arizona State, DT

Dynasty Impact

Our second AFC West team, the Raiders, only made one meaningful selection for dynasty leaguers. A defensively focused draft netted three offensive players. Aidan O’Connell is an attractive ultra-deep Superflex lottery ticket, and Tre Tucker joins the Raiders for special team purposes above any offensive prowess. However, the big-ticket item was the selection of Michael Mayer at the top of the second round.

The trade that sent Darren Waller to New York and the departure of Foster Moreau left the Raiders’ tight end room vacant. That all changed after Las Vegas moved up from 38 to select Mayer at 35, seemingly in response to the Lions picking Sam LaPorta a spot earlier. With draft capital and opportunity now backing a strong analytical profile, Mayer is rightly moving up rookie draft boards. For Superflex purposes, Mayer is deserving of selection within the top 18. Still considered my TE2 for dynasty rookies, Mayer and the previously mentioned LaPorta have given me the confidence to pass on TE1 Dalton Kincaid in the first round of early rookie drafts.

Best Value

Besides Mayer’s selection at 35 (a +23 pick value delta from my ranking of 12), Christopher Smith was a fair value on the third day of the NFL Draft. An instinctive, disciplined, and experienced player in the back end for the Bulldogs, Smith’s selection at 170 was about two rounds too late, according to my evaluation. Poor testing cost most of the safety class draft capital, and Smith was no exception. A capable depth piece in 2023 with the upside to develop into a good centerfield free safety, I expect Smith to outperform this draft day price.

Biggest Reach

A draft that doesn’t align quite as well with my board as Denver’s but managed to stay within the realm of sanity. While Amari Burney and Nesta Jade Silvera were both uninspiring late picks, it’s hard to be overly critical of selections outside the top 200. Burney can be a competent special teamer, and in a limited defensive tackle class, Jade Silvera has shown flashes of starter upside.

Tre Tucker almost certainly surprised many, including me, with his selection at the end of Day-2. While better wide receivers were available, I understand the appeal Tucker offers on special teams. GM Dave Ziegler is bringing the New England mindset to Las Vegas, which involves prioritizing that third element of the game. No need to move Tucker up your rookie board, but less of an NFL reach than the fantasy community is implying.

Los Angeles Chargers | Draft Grade: B-

  • 1.021 | Quentin Johnston, TCU, WR
  • 2.054 | Tuli Tuipulotu, USC, ED
  • 3.085 | Daiyan Henley, Washington State, LB
  • 4.125 | Derius Davis, TCU, WR
  • 5.156 | Jordan McFadden, Clemson, G
  • 6.200 | Scott Matlock, Boise State, DT
  • 7.239 | Max Duggan, TCU, QB

Dynasty Impact

Despite only making one notable dynasty selection, several positive dynasty developments with the Chargers draft exist. Possibly redundant to Mike Williams, at first glance, this is only a mildly appealing landing spot for first-rounder Quentin Johnston. However, with the injuries the Chargers have experienced at WR in recent seasons, it seems likely Johnston will see starting action in 2023. An unrefined but high-upside prospect, Johnston’s presence gives more long-term certainty to Justin Herbert. Herbert, combined with an offensive-minded coach and veteran receiver core, fosters a terrific environment to bring along a raw prospect. He is a symbiotic fit for the Chargers and adds an element post-catch not held by Williams or stalwart Keenan Allen in three-wide sets.

I think it’s also worth noting that amid contract disputes with 27-year-old Austin Ekeler, the Chargers elected to pass on halfback in a strong 2023 running back class. I expect the two parties will find an amicable way to operate in 2023. Additionally, Isaiah Spiller, a fourth-rounder in 2022, may not have lost all hope in LA. With only Joshua Kelly and Larry Roundtree III on the roster for competition, if Spiller manages to take a step forward, there is ample opportunity for a second runner to have roster value.

Best Value

I love the value the Chargers got on Jordan McFadden on Day 3. An offensive lineman with tackle skills operating in an interior lineman’s body, McFadden continues the Charger trend of drafting versatile blockers. Like Jamaree Salyer a year ago, McFadden may profile best inside but has the footwork and arm length to play tackle in a pinch.

Biggest Reach

Like Las Vegas, the Chargers rarely had massive swings and misses relative to my board. Matlock was an off-the-radar prospect for me, so I won’t be critical of a player I didn’t evaluate. Derius Davis, like Tre Tucker for Vegas, holds far more special team value than offensive value. Similarly, he was correctly viewed as a reach in most fantasy minds.

That said, dynasty football is meant for fun, and so is the NFL. While none were overwhelming values, it’s ok to celebrate the addition of three offensive players formerly of the 2023 CFB runner-up TCU Horned Frogs.

Kansas City Chiefs | Draft Grade: B

  • 1.031 | Felix Anudike-Uzomah, Kansas State, ED
  • 2.055 | Rashee Rice, SMU, WR
  • 3.092 | Wanya Morris, Oklahoma, OT
  • 4.119 | Chamarri Conner, Virginia Tech, DB
  • 5.166 | BJ Thompson, Stephen F. Austin State, ED
  • 6.194 | Keondre Coburn, Texas, DT
  • 7.250 | Nic Jones, Ball State, CB

Dynasty Impact

Another solid NFL draft for the Chiefs and another second-round WR dynasty managers hope can monopolize targets from Patrick Mahomes. Selected one spot later than Skyy Moore a year ago, Rashee Rice presents a unique receiver archetype relative to previous Chiefs teams. A capable route runner and separator, what Rice offers that may elevate him within a crowded WR room is size and physicality. While I liked Rice pre-draft, and he fits well, I’m trying to reserve overreacting to an optimal landing spot. That said, in Superflex formats, Rice should go in the top half of the second round. While no WR may be able to garner actual alpha volume behind Travis Kelce, the rich get richer as Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid add another skill player to the best offense in the NFL.

While it’s still possible for KC to bring Jerick McKinnon back, the lack of investment at RB is a boost for those who chose to hold on to Isiah Pacheco’s rookie success. A final note, the Chiefs were able to sign UDFA RB Deneric Prince, an NFL Combine standout from Tulsa. Prince is a name to keep in mind as we approach training camp.

Best Value

There are a few massive value victories, but one that stands out is Chamarri Conner, a safety and corner hybrid. A multi-year starter for the Hokies, Conner fits the mold of versatile and long athletes the Chiefs have selected on Day-3 in recent seasons. With starter potential in 2023, Conner was one of my favorite picks of the fourth round.

Biggest Reach

Wanya Morris has enormous potential but has big shoes to fill with the departure of Orlando Brown Jr. via free agency. Morris had a solid but injury-riddled 2022, and while he was not an extreme reach, I liked several tackles better at this spot in the draft. However, Morris has a robust collegiate starting profile, making appearances for Oklahoma the past two seasons and Tennessee in 2019 and 2020. He reunites with former mid-round lineman selection from Tennessee, Trey Smith. A high-upside developmental player, KC is an excellent place for him to grow. However, Wanya may not see much action in 2023. This assertion becomes more apparent this week with the signing of Donovan Smith.

That’s it; another NFL Draft is in the books! If your favorite team wasn’t covered here, be sure to check all the other NFL Draft Grades from our #Nerdstaff. Do you disagree with the grade I gave your favorite team? Let me know here or on Twitter @DynastyOasis.

NFC West | NFC East | NFC North | AFC East | AFC North | AFC South | IDP Team Grades

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