Denver hopes it has found its next franchise quarterback in Drew Lock
After every NFL draft, sports journalists tend to give draft grades, dive into the analytics of each draft pick, and sometimes make season predictions based on draft selections alone. But at the end of the day, each team goes into the draft with an objective in mind. These objectives range from team improvement to adding depth or perhaps replacing a star player.
When all is said and done each team has achieved some type of goal or objective once the seven rounds have concluded. Here is what each AFC West team accomplished with their selections in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Objective Achieved: Addressed the future of the quarterback position
After striking out with Paxton Lynch and cutting ties with Case Keenum after just one season, everyone knew that acquiring Joe Flacco was about 2019 and not beyond. After passing on a quarterback with their first two picks in the draft, general manager John Elway traded back into the second round and took Drew Lock.
With some projecting him as a possible first-round selection, Elway was able to get him in the second after drafting tight end Noah Fant and offensive lineman Dalton Risner. There has been much discussion about Lock's NFL potential as he threw for 12,193 yards and 99 touchdowns at Missouri. But Elway clearly likes what he has to offer and the good thing for Lock is that he should be able to learn behind Flacco instead of getting thrown into the fire early. Whether Lock is Denver's next franchise quarterback remains to be seen, but you have to credit Elway for doing what was necessary to get his guy.
Kansas City Chiefs
Objective Achieved: Taking a chance on an underdog
With the Chiefs switching to a 4-3 defense for 2019, they decided to draft a defensive lineman that will fit in the scheme. But they didn’t take just anybody, they chose Western Illinois defensive tackle Khalen Saunders (3rd round, 84th overall). Saunders was productive in his four seasons for the Leathernecks as he recorded 172 tackles, 16 sacks, and five pass deflections. He even had a touchdown run and a touchdown catch.
Unfortunately he didn’t always get noticed because he played for an FCS school where the offensive linemen are smaller and the level of competition isn't considered as strong. But after his performance at the Senior Bowl, and his workout at the Scouting Combine, NFL scouts were sold on his abilities. Now the Chiefs are looking for him to produce at the highest level for a defense that has seen plenty of changes this offseason.
Los Angeles Chargers
Objective Achieved: A new-look defense and potential future starting quarterback
After finishing 12-4 and making it to the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the Chargers' roster is in good shape but it doesn't mean there aren't some areas that can be shored up. In particular, defensive tackle Jerry Tillery and safety Nasir Adderley, the team's first- and second-round picks respectively, are expected to be immediate contributors if not starters. Los Angeles also selected three other defenders who may help bolster the depth up front and at linebacker.
With Philip Rivers set to turn 38 in December, determining the future of the quarterback position has to become more of a priority for general manager Tom Telesco. It's possible that he may have found his signal-caller of the future in fifth-round pick Easton Stick. Carson Wentz' successor at North Dakota State, all Stick did in his three-plus years as the starter was go 49-3 and was a part of three FCS national championship teams, including going back-to-back in 2017 and '18.
Stick certianly didn't get the same kind of buzz as Wentz did prior to becoming the second pick of the 2016 draft, but his resume speaks for itself, as he not only won practically every game he started, he also threw for 8,693 yards, ran for another 2,523 and was responsible for 129 total touchdowns during his Bison career. He played in a pro-style offense, which should help him make the transition to the pros and he has a golden opportunity to learn behind one of the best quarterbacks in the league in Rivers.
Objective Achieved: Star power
With the Raiders in rebuilding mode, it doesn’t hurt to take some of college football’s biggest names off the board and integrate them into your franchise. Their first round haul was a memorable one as they landed Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell (4th overall), Alabama running back Josh Jacobs (24th), and Mississippi State safety Johnathan Abram (27th). The Raiders grabbed some additional members of the reigning national champions in former Tigers cornerback Trayvon Mullen (2nd Round) and wide receiver Hunter Renfrow (5th). Now it’s just a matter of these guys making the adjustment to the pros and how all of the pieces fit in general manager Mike Mayock and head Jon Gruden's master plan for turning around the Las Vegas-bound Raiders.
— 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's a co-host of The Rewind Sports: 60. Follow him on Twitter @GabeSalgado82.
(Top photo courtesy of @Broncos)