The Kansas City Chiefs are the kings of the AFC West and every other team in the division is trying to catch them. If there's one thing that all four teams have in common after the 2021 NFL Draft, they all value their offensive lines. Each team added at least one big man up front as they hope to keep their quarterbacks upright for 2021. Here's what else each team accomplished through the draft.
Objective Achieved: Help on both sides of the ball
The Broncos are intent on moving forward with either Teddy Bridgewater or Drew Lock as the starting quarterback, so they added some supporting pieces on offense. North Carolina running back Javonte Williams should give a boost to Denver's ground game. Auburn wide receiver Seth Williams will be a nice target for either Bridgewater or Lock to throw to, while Wisconsin-Whitewater center Quinn Meinerz gives this offensive line a fresh face. But the Broncos should have taken another big man up front.
Their heaviest investment, however, was on defense. Alabama cornerback Pat Surtain II was the second defender overall (CB Jaycee Horn, Carolina at No. 8) to come off of the board. His counterpart from LSU, Kary Vincent Jr., is another solid addition to the secondary. The Broncos also selected Ohio State linebacker Baron Browning, as well as a pair of hard-working safeties in Caden Sterns (Texas), and Jamar Johnson (Indiana). They also made sure to aid the pass rush with defensive ends Jonathan Cooper (Ohio State), and Marquiss Spencer (Mississippi State).
Kansas City Chiefs
Objective Achieved: More weapons for Patrick Mahomes
The defending AFC West and conference champions also got in on the offensive line act by taking Oklahoma center Creed Humphrey, and Tennessee guard Trey Smith. Combine those moves with signing guard Joe Thuney in free agency and sending their first-round pick to Baltimore for tackle Orlando Brown Jr. prior to the draft, and the Chiefs have practically turned over Mahomes' protection detail from last season. He also was given two new targets in the passing game in the form of Duke tight end Noah Gray and Clemson wide receiver Cornell Powell. The big new piece on defense is Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton, as he is expected to start right away, and the team is that Florida State defensive end Joshua Kaindoh can add some juice to the pass rush.
Las Vegas Raiders
Objective Achieved: Beefed up the secondary
Half of the Raiders' seven picks were used on defensive backs, highlighted by second-round selection safety Trevon Moehrig. Las Vegas traded up to grab the former TCU standout before adding fellow safeties Divine Deablo (Virginia Tech) and Tyree Gillespie (Missouri), along with cornerback Nate Hobbs (Illinois). The team's first-round pick was used on Alabama offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood, who could start inside at one of the guard spots. The Raiders also added Buffalo edge rusher Malcolm Koonce with the third-round pick they got from Arizona for center Rodney Hudson. The team rounded out its seven-man draft class with Pittsburgh center Jimmy Morrissey.
Los Angeles Chargers
Objective Achieved: Top-notch protection for Justin Herbert
Upgrading Herbert's protection was the Chargers' top priority (34 sacks allowed in 2020). So after signing All-Pro center Corey Linsley and tackle Matt Feiler in free agency, the team took Northwestern tackle Rashawn Slater with the 13th overall pick. Nebraska's Brenden Jaimes will also try and earn a spot in the remade offensive line rotation. Other offensive additions in the draft included Tennessee wide receiver Joshua Palmer, tight end Tre' McKitty (who also got rave reviews for his blocking), and running back Larry Rountree III.
The defense certainly wasn't ignored either, led by Florida State cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. in the second round. He and Georgia safety Mark Webb will look to improve the secondary while Duke's Chris Rumph II will try and give a boost to the pass rush. Iowa linebacker Nick Neimann has a shot at cracking the rotation in the middle of the defense as well.
— Gabe Salgado is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. He's also written for NBC, Fox, The Sporting News, The Sports Journal, The Undefeated and Complex. He can also be heard on WGN Radio. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Rashawn Slater photo by Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Chargers, courtesy of chargers.com)