Draft Grades

AFC West draft grades: Chiefs deliver in big way; Broncos make value picks

Why provide instant grades on the selections of prospects who have yet to take an NFL snap? Well, you're reading this, aren't you? Considering the makeup of every roster and the factors surrounding each pick, Gennaro Filice and Dan Parr attempt a division-by-division assessment of the 2022 NFL Draft. Keep in mind that these grades are based on draft hauls alone -- picks traded for veteran players were not taken into account. Below is Dan's AFC West report card.

NOTE: Draft classes are displayed from best to worst within the division.

Grade
A
Kansas City Chiefs
Total picks: 10

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With their division rivals making a lot more noise than the Chiefs did in free agency, the pressure was turned up on Kansas City to make good use of the rich collection of draft capital it possessed this year after parting with Tyreek Hill. General manager Brett Veach and head coach Andy Reid did not disappoint. I identified receiver, edge rusher and cornerback as their three biggest needs entering the draft, and they addressed those positions with their top three selections, finding solid value with each pick. There was some handwringing when McDuffie’s arm measured shorter than 30 inches at the NFL Scouting Combine, but a couple NFL.com draft experts didn't sour on him: Daniel Jeremiah called him one of the safest players in the draft and Lance Zierlein likened him to Packers Pro Bowl CB Jaire Alexander. Sign me up for that. Jeremiah’s comp for Karlaftis is Ryan Kerrigan, another former Boilermaker and a guy who consistently produced double-digit sacks in his prime years. Karlaftis is not considered the biggest playmaker versus the run, but there’s no doubt about his motor and he’s here to get after passers anyway. On Day 2, finding Moore waiting for them at No. 54 was a bit of a surprise and a major boon for Kansas City. NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund locked in Moore as the best value pick of Rounds 2-3. The Chiefs added three more potential future starters on defense before the fourth round was over, nabbing a couple hard-hitting enforcer types in Cook and Chenal and a long corner with good instincts in Williams. Don’t sleep on the Chiefs’ seventh-round RB, either. Pacheco is an all-gas, no-brakes runner. Overall, it was an excellent draft weekend for a team looking to fend off some very hungry challengers to the AFC West throne.

B+
Denver Broncos
Total picks: 9

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The Broncos ranked toward the bottom of the league in 2022 NFL Draft capital after dealing away their first- and second-round picks as part of the Russell Wilson trade, but they managed to put together a nice haul relative to the selections that were still in their possession. General manager George Paton was able to fill needs and find significant value with his first three picks. Using NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s Top 150 prospects as a guide, Bonitto (ranked 44th, picked 64th), Dulcich (ranked 60th, picked 80th) and Mathis (ranked 99th, picked 115th) netted a value of +56. Dulcich was NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks’ No. 2 tight end in the draft and he fills a major void at the position for Denver after it traded Noah Fant to Seattle in the Wilson swap. The former UCLA star isn’t going to help much as a blocker, but he averaged 17.6 yards per catch during his collegiate career and brings it in the hair department. Obviously, the Broncos decided to add primarily to the defense in the draft -- re-signing Melvin Gordon prior to the draft last week might have helped make that so – and they spent wisely with their first pick. Bonitto has the potential to be a force off the edge versus the pass early in his career and could develop a more well-rounded game if he adds strength. They landed another exceptional athlete in Mathis, who posted an 11-foot-1 broad jump and a 43 1/2-inch vertical at the Pitt pro day (the top vertical at the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine was 42 inches). Uwazurike was a sneaky-good addition to the depth of the defensive line. The Broncos did not address their need at inside linebacker in the draft, but there’s not a lot to quibble with here.

Grade
B
Los Angeles Chargers
Total picks: 8

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My apologies to those who prefer to see these analytical blurbs move in linear fashion, but we need to start in Round 6 for the Chargers. That’s where they might have found one of the steals of the draft. Salyer started all 21 games he played for Georgia over the past two seasons, including 11 at left tackle for the national champions in 2021. He was the No. 120 prospect on NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah’s draft board. Yet, there he was, still waiting to hear his name called at Pick 195. General manager Tom Telesco shrewdly stopped his slide, coming away with incredible value for a player who will likely play inside as a pro. Offensive line was the team’s biggest need, so it made plenty of sense to double down on the front five after the Chargers drafted Johnson, a plug-and-play guard, with their first pick. Some folks will argue L.A. should have gone with the best potential right tackle available in Round 1 -- in this case, Northern Iowa’s Trevor Penning -- but it seems like the Bolts went with the safer choice early, and that’s understandable. The Bolts saved their gamble for Round 3 (they traded their second-round pick in the Khalil Mack swap). Woods has the tools to become a playmaker in the secondary, but NFL.com analyst Lance Zierlein cited “too many busted assignments” in his scouting report on the Baylor safety and wrote that “he'll need to prove that his run support and tackle finishing are on a functional level for the pro game.” If Woods puts it all together, the Chargers could end up looking back at this draft class very fondly. I would not have minded seeing a wide receiver added to the mix, but that was closer to a luxury to a necessity for this team, and Spiller was worth a shot in Round 4.

Grade
B
Las Vegas Raiders
Total picks: 6

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In a way, the Raiders’ 2022 NFL Draft was the anti-Vegas draft. There was very little gambling here, but that’s not a bad thing. New general manager Dave Ziegler and head coach Josh McDaniels only had one pick in the top 100 after trading their first- and second-round selections to the Packers for Davante Adams, and they addressed their biggest need with that pick. Parham came off the board in the range his skills merited and he should compete to start at guard right away. On Day 3 (Rounds 4-7), the Raiders did a nice job of identifying value. White, a powerful runner, was a top-100 talent who went 122nd and Butler, a gritty interior defender, was a good find late in Round 5. The decision to add help at running back made plenty of sense after the team declined the option on Josh Jacobs’ rookie deal, and the interior D-line was a top-three need for the club. Munford, who some projected as a fourth-round pick, might have been the best value of all in the middle of Round 7. The Raiders left one top need unaddressed, failing to pick an inside linebacker, but with limited capital, this was a solid first entry for the franchise’s new decision-makers.

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